I remember the day I turned 22. It was only a couple months after my divorce was finalized, and a month after I had moved to North Carolina to live with my parents (along with my nearly 1-year-old son, Casey). At that point, I had been attending the LDS Singles Ward (congregation) in Chapel Hill, and had made a handful of friends. Some of them took me for ice cream that night, and I remember saying that I felt old being 22. As ridiculous as that sounds, I think I must have felt old because of all that had happened to me in my life up until that point.
That year was one of the hardest of my life, trying to figure out who I was again, seeing where I fit in and who would accept me, and looking for the path that would lead me out of my current, difficult situation.
I didn’t remember at that time that I was a beloved daughter of God, that He loved me no matter my circumstances, that I should be grateful for my experiences, and that I was indeed blessed. It took me a lot of time not to define myself by things I couldn’t control.
I may have felt old at age 22, but since then, as I have aged, I haven’t concentrated on getting older, but rather, getting wiser.
I am 33 today. Eleven years ago, I would have freaked out about turning this age. Honestly, though, these last 11 years have included some of the most important, difficult, and miraculous experiences of my life: finding an excellent job, dating and getting remarried, quitting the job I loved after having our first child together, having faith that my husband would survive a surgery that would remove a huge mass of his liver, buying our first house, bearing a son early and unexpectedly in the master bathroom at home, taking a leap of faith and taking steps for my husband to completely change careers by going back to school, and finally having our baby girl, though prematurely.
Those are only some of the experiences I will never forget for the rest of my life that have happened in the last 11 years. I can’t express how much each of those experiences means to me. They have each strengthened my faith in Christ, and helped me remember how much God loves me, and how much His hand guides my life, and the lives of my family members.
That being said, though, this past year has also been one of the hardest of my life. First, though, I must express how it has been one of the most joyful at the same time: I had the pleasure of planning for a baby girl to arrive in my home, and I got to deliver her, bond with her in the hospital, and then take her home and enjoy raising her. Eve has brought so much joy to our home, joy that we all truly needed. She has brought a tenderness to my boys that I didn’t realize they had.
Why was year 32 so hard, then? Well, during pregnancy, I gained more weight than I ever have, while trying very hard not to do so. Since having Eve, I have tried to lose weight, and was successful in losing 20 pounds, only to find out I just gained nearly all of it back on vacation. It has been so hard for me to lose my baby weight, and I often feel so gross. My confidence has been low. For a while, I gained some confidence back after finding a clothing line I felt beautiful in. But then, I found myself buying way too much, and that turned into a temporary shopping addiction that I had to work really hard to overcome. Thankfully, I have.
I also haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep at all this past year, not to mention I have also been busier than I have ever been in my life (hence why I never blog anymore). Having four kids is no joke, especially when you have two boys that fight all the time, and a baby girl, though precious, who wants you to hold her and give her attention all day long.
Being busy and sleepy leads to more eating as a way to cope with stress, doesn’t it? Well, at least it does for me. I think that is why I am having such a hard time getting healthy again.
I have been down quite a bit this year. I have never been one to be depressed. I am usually the type of person who is there cheering other people up and having a positive outlook on life. I can be that person still, but sometimes I find myself saying things I know aren’t true (like, I am the ugliest person on earth, for example) and I sometimes just cry and can’t deal with everything around me. Yes, life is hard right now.
The good thing is, that in moments of peace and clarity, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I know that I will eventually get healthy again, as I always do. I know that as my kids continue to get older, that they will grow out of some very frustrating stages. I know that my husband loves me (even when I irrationally think otherwise), and that he will be there for me through it all. Most of all, I know what I learned years ago, that I am a beloved daughter of God, that He loves me and wants me to have joy.
I pray that age 33 gets a little easier, but if it doesn’t, I know the Lord will help me endure what comes. I also know that through the lessons I learn, I can help others. I try to focus on the positives as much as I can. I have my beautiful family, my husband moving up in his career, loving friends and extended family, a good home and all the necessities of life, and most importantly, the gospel of Jesus Christ.
If any of my friends or family is struggling right now, just know that though I am also struggling, I am here for you. I am always willing to lend an ear, a hand, or an embrace.
Here is to another year. I look forward to what it will bring, good and bad. I know I can do anything with the Lord’s help, as can you.