What I Really Needed
Last week I shared about how We Get What We Need. I want to continue on this subject of needs. What do we really need?
When I was 2 months postpartum with my first baby, I thought that I needed to go back to work (waitressing during the evenings). So I did. And leaving that baby every evening was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. But I thought that I needed to do it because my husband’s job just wasn’t enough to support us.
You would think that returning to work after I had my second would have been easier because I would have been used to it by then, but it wasn’t. In fact, I had the most postpartum depression I have ever experienced, and I attribute it to going back to work when she was only a month old. I also babysat a little boy who was between my daughters’ ages, five days a week, during that time. I had always been a hard worker, I had watched both of my parents work hard as I was growing up, and it’s just what I thought I needed to do.
Then I ripped open an inguinal hernia on my right side when I was pregnant with my third. Did the burning pain of my muscle wall being ripped open and a loop of my intestines poking through the hole stop me? Nope. I slapped on an uncomfortable brace and worked as usual, crying all the way home nearly every night because of the pain.
All this time my husband was telling me to quit. I’m pretty sure everyone who loved me was wanting me to quit. I didn’t listen. By now my husband had a better job, but I still didn’t think it was enough. I wasn’t babysitting anymore, and this waitressing job was the best way for me to bring in the most money for the least amount of time on my feet and away from my family.
Insurance wouldn’t fix my hernia for me in between my third and fourth babies, and when I was pregnant with my fourth I ripped open a partial inguinal hernia on my left side. Did I quit? I think you see the pattern here and know that I didn’t. So. Much. Pain. And I kept working. I thought it was what I needed to do.
Insurance finally approved surgery. The surgeon was going to go in, spend 1.5 hours, and fix both sides. When I awoke from the surgery I was told it took 4 hours and he only was able to fix the open hernia on the right because there was so much damage on that side.
Something went wrong. I’m not sure if the surgery trapped a nerve or things were pulled together too tightly, but I still had pain at my hernia site and in two new places along that same muscle group. But my cover for work was leaving for Europe a month after my surgery so I went back to work. And I worked through that season, until I couldn’t stand it anymore. I rested the winter and then went back to work in the spring.
I was insane. I know it now, and I look back and shake my head at myself. My husband had an even better job by then and was begging me to stop working, but I was so blind and focused on what I thought I needed to do that I missed out on seeing how God would take care of us if I just surrendered and stayed home and let myself be taken care of.
Instead I worked 1.5 years after my surgery, with one partial hernia and the unresolved pain from my surgery sucking the joy out of my life. I suffered continuously and made my family suffer, too, by having a mama and wife who was in pain all the time. I wish I could go back and slap myself in the face. Or something! Anything to make me wake myself up and realize that I was wasting years trying to do something I didn’t need to do.
Because I realize now that if I had stopped working after I had my first baby, when I felt like my heart was being ripped out every time I left her, we would have been ok.
I know this because I eventually did quit working. I finally came to my end and couldn’t take the pain anymore and quit waitressing. I haven’t worked for 1.5 years, and guess what? We haven’t starved to death! We have always been able to pay our bills, too. Isn’t that amazing? Not really. God is in the business of taking care of His children, He always has been, I just wasn’t letting Him prove it. Six months ago He provided my husband with an even better job, one that my husband is really happy with. And, even though I am injured and still in pain, I am living a beautiful life because I get to spend so much time with my children!
I often wonder if I would have even ripped open my hernias if I had stopped waitressing 10 years ago. I could have been spared the pain of the last 6 years if I had listened to my heart (and everyone else who loved me) at that time. Or maybe not spared the pain, because the muscle weakness has been genetically passed down to me, but at least it would have been less and maybe a shorter time of pain because I wouldn’t have been waiting for the work season to end before seeking help from the medical world. Who knows what could have been? I can’t go back and change it now.
But what I want to do now, the reason I am telling you this story, is to encourage you to drop the unreasonable expectations you have for yourself. Maybe your expectations have to do with work, like mine did, or maybe it’s something completely different. We women are pros at thinking we need to do more than we actually need to do.We place such high standards for ourselves that there is no possible way we can achieve them. Stop it, mama! Give yourself grace. Allow yourself to be human. Allow God to take care of the rest.
My foolishness has made me suffer, I don't want you to suffer, too! Don't take so long to realize that your high expectations are not really needs.
God bless you, sweet mama!