So I'm halfway there and I have so much to celebrate! This baby is still growing inside me! Things are going right. The baby looks healthy. It's a sweet little baby boy, a new chapter for our family in many ways! And yet while I'm thankful and truly full of praise and wonder that God would allow us another opportunity to be parents to a little soul on earth, I'm also feeling farther from Him than I have in awhile.
I'll call it my "Pre-Advent Slump".
In my times of sorrow and grief, most especially after losing Mary Grace, I was so close to the Lord. It felt as if he had nestled me right next to His heart and carried me for days and months. I had a better understanding of suffering and how it brought me closer to Him, and how it was useful for other souls as well.
And now that I have crossed through that "valley of death" of loss and infertility, it is as if the Lord has set me back down to walk on my own again. I don't feel His presence like I did in the valley. I know that He is still there. He hasn't stopped walking by my side. But perhaps, now that I am in a "good place" in my life with things going amazingly well I have forgotten to turn to Him. My suffering has been removed and replaced with great joy, but at the same time it is a lonely feeling. To be carried by the Lord and then to be set down to walk on your own is more difficult than I had imagined.
Some people won't understand this. So let me clarify a few things. I don't wish to be in the past. I don't want to be stuck back in the pain of infertility, and I don't want to lose any more babies. But it was in that suffering that the Lord drew me to Him in a new way...and it was the most beautiful place to be. In a way I would almost explain it to be like those people who have had a near-death experience and seen the light of heaven, only to be sent back to their earthly life with disappointment that it wasn't their time to be with God. I think it would be like that. I have had that taste of closeness with the Lord and now I no longer have it and even joy seems muted.
Maybe it is something you only experience during suffering. Or maybe after He set me back down, I stumbled from His path. Different roads caught my eye and I was lured the wrong way, not necessarily into sin, but into complacency and self-reliance. I know God doesn't push me away, so maybe I have been pushing Him away without even meaning to.
And it's not as if I've been skipping Mass or jumping into huge piles of sin either. It's more like my prayer life has faltered. In these "good times" it is easier to be lacking in a complete and utter dependence on God. I have been starting to subconsciously feel like I can do this on my own...see how well everything is going? And while saying that out loud brings me to the quick realization that that is simply not so (I know in my heart that everything...every breath, every beat of my heart is because God allows it), my prayer life does not reflect that reality.
I thank God during our morning prayer, mealtime prayers and Isabel's bedtime prayers and here and there throughout the day for that random baby kick, or Isabel's 4 year old humor, or Robert's patience with pregnant-old-me. But there is nothing beyond that.
What I know is that prayer life takes work and I have not been lifting any "spiritual weights" if you will. I know there are times when I will feel spiritually "dry", but I've got to lift myself out of the rut of self-reliance and get back into completely relying on my Creator for all that goes on....the good and the bad.
Somehow for me, it was easy to rely on Him in the bad....but is much tougher to rely on Him in the good.
So on that note I'm glad that Advent is right around the corner! Lent and Advent are my favorite liturgical seasons because as a Type-A I need to PREPARE! And by the time that they get here, my heart is in deep need of new preparation...like soil that needs to be tilled.
What are my plans for Advent to get my soul into better spiritual shape?? More about that in the next post, and I'll humor you then with a belly shot too.