Devotional: The Hardest Year of My Life {James 1:3-4}

‘…because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.’ {James 1:3-4 NIV}

Newborn photo ideas | newborn photos | postpartum mom

Let’s talk about the hard stuff. We’ve all got it. Maybe you’re even in the midst of a really hard season right now.

I know what it’s like to dream about pushing fast-forward on your own life. To not recognize the expressionless face in the mirror. When fear and anxiety blanket everything in your life. 

I was there. I’m not there anymore, and I’m so thankful I’m not there anymore! In the squares of what tends to be a lot of smiling photos on here, I think it’s important to share that life isn’t all smiles. But also that if you’re in the hard stuff right now, you will get through this.

Since part of my story will be publicly shared this week on stage at the American Heart Association of Minnesota Go Red for Women Gala, I thought I’d share the whole story on my blog. So when you hear the story of my mom’s cardiac arrest, and see another smiling photo of me talking about how performing CPR saved her life; you don’t credit me for being ‘so strong.’ Because really I wasn’t, there’s more to the story…

The Hardest Year of My Life as a Mother

On the day my son was born, March 8, 2017, I had no idea what a beautiful, exceptionally hard, life-altering, soul-shaping year 2017 would really be.

Newborn photo ideas | newborn family photo

As a new mom I was the most insecure in my abilities I’ve ever been. Postpartum life is just plain HARD. The sleepless nights, learning how to latch, then the latching and endless amounts of nipple cream. The freedom to enjoy a warm meal or cup of coffee, taken captive by the feeding needs of a tiny human.

I finally understood what it really felt like to lose my identity, and my husband, to motherhood.

The body I knew and ran, and jumped, and moved in, was the mushiest it’s been in a long time. I was no longer an energized group fitness instructor on the regular, but a mother searching for energy.

The schedule I knew and operated by daily was flipped upside down. My mental load went from content calendar planning for my business to whether or not I dress my son in a long sleeve or short sleeve onesie for his doctor appointment. And somehow the latter paralyzed my thoughts, and anxiety weighed in on every decision.

The husband I knew and loved and touched and texted multiple times a day was now a partner in the business of keeping a tiny human alive. We touched rarely; eye contact was even hard at times as I resented him eating warm peanut butter toast for breakfast and leaving for work each day.

The Hardest Year of My Life as a Daughter

Then on March 20, 2017 my healthy 57-year old mother came over after a half day of work to help with my new son. Moments after arriving and carrying a pack-n-play up the stairs, she went into cardiac arrest on my kitchen floor.

You can read the full story on the American Heart Association website here.

CPR saves lives | cardiac arrest survivor story

Performing CPR on my mom had to be the most terrifying moments of my life, but if you listen to the CPR call {which I’ll be sharing on my Instagram later this week} you might respond like a lot of people have…

‘You’re so brave, so strong…’

Truth is, in that moment I truly believe God was with me and the 911-dispatcher on the phone, counting every chest compression. But after that day, I felt as if he’d abandoned me. As if he’d left me in a mess of hospital visits and late night feedings.

When Your Faith is Tested

As a daughter I was terrified for my mom, the unknown of what recovery actually looked like, and what this meant for our family.

As a mother I was even more insecure in my abilities as the mental load grew.

And the layers kept piling on. My husband was traveling a lot for volleyball and work. A pipe burst, flooding our basement flooded while he was in London on a 3-week work trip.

I was drowning and the realness of postpartum adjustment disorder, anxiety, depression — whatever you want to call it — set in.

Fear, insecurity, anxiety, resentment, anger…these feelings consumed me. I kept trying to ‘do the right thing,’ to box up my feelings and stuff them into the back of the closet. Read my Bible, pray harder. I even went against my personal ‘buck up’ theory and got a therapist.

The more I tried to box up my feelings, the more they spilled over into every aspect of my life.

For the first time in my life I had empathy for people living with depression and anxiety. I had no idea it was possible to feel like this every day.

Why I’m Sharing This Story

I’m sharing this personal story not so you know that I’ve faced hardships; but because I want this to be a story about who God is and what he does in a human heart.

‘…the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.’ {James 1:3-4 NIV}

2017 was a hard year for me. But now I’m able to look back and see that 2017 forced me to lean into God harder than I ever have. 2017 is the year I actually started reading the Bible. 2017 was the year I pulled back the curtain and gave God real, honest, desperate prayers that didn’t include a whole lot of praise, but a whole lot of ‘where the heck are you? What are you doing? And WHY?’

Like Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, I begged God to take these burdens away from me. But as we know by Jesus’ death on the cross, not all burdens can be taken away.

And that’s why I love coming back to this verse, James 1:3-4. God wants to make us mature and complete, not keep us from all pain.

Now I can look back and say, ‘I now know the depth of my character, of my strength as a mother, daughter, wife.’ I can assure you in the moment I just wanted OUT. But as I reflect I see how God used 2017 to transform my heart. To change the way I view how strong I am, but more importantly, to put into perspective how much bigger God is than any giant I will face.

This is why I don’t believe everything happens for a reason. Somethings that happen in life are so painful that there is just no good reason for them. But I do believe that God is the only one who can provide peace during these seasons.

I’m sharing this story now, two years after this all happened, because when I was in it, I couldn’t share it. It was too intimate, too hard, too real, too dark. But now that I’ve walked through it and come out on the other side, it’s easier to share it. Because I can see how God was working to transform my heart.

And it was reading 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 that encouraged me to share this story: ‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.’

Because now it’s a little bit easier to look at someone in deep pain and say, I’ve come out from the darkness, and you will too. Lean into God, have faith, and let Him bear this heartache with you. 

You will get through this. You will find yourself again. You will laugh easily again. You will sleep again. Just keep leaning into God. 

God knows pain deeper than anyone, watching His son die on the cross for us. But that’s how much he loves you.

So when my faith is tested, this is my prayer.

Dear God,
Do not just hear my fear, insecurity, anxiety, resentment, and anger, but bear it with me.
If you cannot take this burden from me, then let me know that you are close, and walking through this with me.
I know that the testing of faith produces perseverance, but I cannot do this alone.
I need you.

Find more faith-inspired stories and devotional posts here.

Pin this Devotional Prayer: When Your Faith is Tested

Prayer | Postpartum prayer | a prayer when faith is tested

  1. Thank you for sharing this so beautifully and honestly. What a marvelous testimony that God is faithful even though life is hard.

    • Melinda! Thank you for reading. God is good and always closer than we think, sometimes we just have to lean in to feel it. Thanks again for following along! -Lindsey

  2. Lindsey….

    Thank you for opening up such a deep part of your heart. Your vulnerability is commendable, so very brave for going there. It is clear to see the work you have done to mend your heart. The most beautiful part is how you were honest with the Lord….He knew and saw your heart but there is freedom in crying out to him in the depths of our pain, we become intimate with Him. Thank you again….

    • Janet! Thank you for reading. It’s never easy to share these stories, but my prayer is it sheds a little light into someone else’s darkness. And sometimes nothing feels better than a real, desperate prayer and just crying it out all to God! Thank you for following along! -Lindsey

  3. I am in tears reading your blog post. Although I’m not able to relate to my mother going through cardiac arrest, I can certainly relate to your post-partum struggles as I also went through them. Thank you for your raw, authentic truth. And I’m so glad to hear you’re on the other side. You’re an amazing mother, daughter and wife. I wish you continued happiness and blessings. XO!

    • Mallory! Thanks so much for reading and for your kind words! The postpartum life is HARD, and I’ve come to find out that more women struggle than we think. And it’s always a bit more comforting to know you’re not alone in these struggles! Thank you for reading and keep up the good work mama! Lindsey

  4. But you ARE strong, even if you don’t see it that way. You performed something we all hope to never have to do, all while enduring the hormonal and chemical chaos of the postpartum period. AND you saved your mom’s life! Thank you so much for sharing your story. I was lucky to not have PPD, but it’s so common and I wish more people would talk about it so women know it’s NORMAL and can learn how to cope or get help. I’m so impressed that you and your mom have come out stronger from this emotional experience and are using it to positively affect legislature to help others!

    • Tracy! Thanks so much for reading and for your kind words! PPD is a crazy experience, but I think it’s much more ‘normal’ than we are led to believe as well. I’m so grateful to have come out the other side with a happy ending and stronger heart for God! Thank you for following along! -Lindsey

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your story! It’s so amazing to hear how God walked with you through this season of your life! ❤️

    • Michelle! Thanks so much for reading. And yes, I think God is much closer than we know during these seasons, and just grateful to have come out the other side with a strong dependence on God. -Lindsey

  6. Wow, this gave me goosebumps! You are such an inspiration for sharing this and being so open about your struggles and overcoming them through your deep faith. Thank you for this 🙂

    • Nic! Thanks so much for reading…it’s never easy to share/talk about this stuff, but praying it helps paint a more realistic picture of my postpartum life and sheds a little light into someone’s dark. Thanks for reading! -Lindsey

  7. Thank you for sharing. 2016 was my year of hard things as I watched my dad fade away from cancer. Then 2017 brought my precious daughter 3 miscarriages. I aches for her pain. Now, she has a 7 month old, Lachlan, who is a great joy! Praise the Lord!

  8. 2017, same post partum despressed whatever that was year. Thanks for sharing your story, it made my story sound normal for once. Praising God for his work in you to help you walk in light and freedom Christ provides! And that makes this the best story!

    • Laura! I think we can both agree we are glad we survived 2017 and are on the other side of that :). Thank so much for reading, and sharing in what was a very hard year for both of us. You’re right the best story really is God’s relentless love through it all! Thanks again for reading! -Lindsey