“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7
Before we dig deep here, you should know a few things.
I have high expectations of God. Like, raising Lazarus from the dead, high expectations. I know He is capable of these things, so a lot of times, when I pray to God asking for help, I envision that He will unleash some divine grace that will float down from the heavens, and magically fix my situation.
The next thing you should know is that I’m not a traditional pray-er (a verb I made up).
Sure, I drink my coffee in the morning and read the Bible and say nice, calm prayers. But God hears my real prayers when the kids wake up and the day starts rolling. They aren’t flowery, and they aren’t uttered in a calm voice.
“God, please don’t let her puke in the car, please.”
“Ok God, I submit to your will. But could you at least keep it contained to the car seat?”
“God, please don’t let me puke while I clean up this puke, a situation you could have entirely prevented if you answered my first prayer.”
I view prayer as texting. I anxiously await quick responses, and I see a lot of read receipts, but God rarely responds immediately, or by text.
Going through darkness
The other thing you should know is that I have two beautiful daughters who are complete and total terrorists but also adorable. And in the process of becoming a mom, in the postpartum days, weeks, months, and years, my world turned dark and hopeless.
I cried a lot. Like, enough tears for a lifetime. I experienced anxiety that I was going to do something horrible to my precious baby. I hid the knives.
And when all of this happened, I prayed. I prayed that I would make it through yet another night of cluster feeds, prayed that my eyes wouldn’t be red when I walked out of the bathroom to continue hosting guests, prayed that life wouldn’t feel as dark- as hopeless. I prayed in desperation, through tears, grasping for something; anything, to get me through.
I looked up to the heavens; they were silent.
I began to doubt God’s existence. And, I concluded, if He did exist, He must not love me. Because how could He let this happen without intervening?
Yet God was there
What I didn’t recognize at the time, is that God was right there.
My husband held me in his arms as I sobbed, for the 18th time that day. He held me, as my world collapsed, as the future was bleak, as I felt to be the biggest failure of a mom.
He waited until the tears stopped, looked me in the eyes, and lovingly but firmly said, “You. Need. Help. It is time to go to the doctor.”
I wiped my eyes, “Yeah, but…” I paused, “We are only two weeks out from birth. This still could just be the baby blues.”
I put up a convincing argument against the fact that anything was wrong, because I really, truly, didn’t want anything to be wrong. I didn’t want PPD, so maybe if I ignored it, pretended I didn’t have it, it would magically go away.
That night, I prayed. “God, please, stop the tears.” And He smiled down, mimicking the motion of shaking my shoulders, “I tried.”
Each night, I continued to pray, and God continued to speak to me through my husband, so I continued to ignore him.
I finally, finally listened
Finally, one day, I listened. I listened because it was time for my 6-week checkup, and I was still crying most of the time. My husband insisted that I tell the doctor and promised he would come with me for moral support.
And so, under bright fluorescent lights in a room that smelled of rubbing alcohol, with my clammy hand clutching my husband’s warm, strong, hand, I admitted that all was not well in my world. I cried as I told the doctor I couldn’t make it through the day without crying. Heck, I couldn’t even make it through a conversation.
He listened. He had been listening all along. And He, was going to help, through my doctor, my husband, family, and friends.
I missed a lot of graces
My postpartum depression was not cured in a raising-Lazarus-from-the-dead kind of miracle. Instead, God dumped buckets of grace on me through others. Through the doctor who empathetically listened and prescribed the right medications that helped my brain recover. My husband, who helped with the night shift to ensure I was getting enough sleep for my brain to be functional. My sister, who came over once a week to watch the two-year-old so I could nap while the baby napped. Friends, who frequently checked in and offered encouragement.
Looking back, I wonder how many graces God was trying to share with me that I didn’t accept, didn’t seek out, or was too embarrassed to ask for.
It’s entirely OK to ask for help
I think, especially in the American culture, asking for help is one of the hardest things we can do, seconded by accepting help. But when we reject help or don’t ask for it, we are cutting off God’s ability to work in our lives.
God works in mysterious ways, and because of this, we need to open our hearts to sources of grace that we might not expect.
If you are in the same boat that I found myself in four years ago, open your heart to the possibility that God is trying to provide comfort in ways you might not imagine, or ways you might not want to accept or ask for.