Practical Proverbs: How Should I Dress Today? by Sarah McElvaney

The last four years have been so painful.  The kind of pain that leaves scars of fear that seep out at any given time. 

“What happened?”

Well.

We lost a baby in the summer of 2012.  My body was unable to miscarry on its own, and after a month of carrying that child, I had to have surgery.  I felt like my body was broken!  And I’m not sure if I ever fully recovered from that before I got pregnant again.  I chose to look at this baby as a miracle, tried to find joy when I felt the fear, and BEGGED God to just “keep knitting” that baby inside of me.  

He did, and my precious boy was born in the spring of 2013.  Even through all the first time mom struggles, I knew what a miracle he was.  I knew how much I had yearned for him and motherhood.   Jesus Christ, my promise & my hope, the anchor for my soul, had delivered this baby to our family. 

Two years later, we decided that it was time if God chose, to add another little one to the family.  While we got pregnant right away with both of our previous pregnancies, this one took a bit longer.  Those thoughts of a broken body crept up and I began to believe the lies again.  But truly, before long we were pregnant again!  I was absolutely miserable.  I was so sick, had to care for a toddler, and I wondered why I couldn’t do it when so many other women do. (seriously, was I broken?) I was afraid of losing this baby and afraid of permanently damaging my toddler with the number of movies I let him watch. 

We encountered so much adversity in this last year while I was pregnant.  I was incredibly sick with morning sickness & migraines.  The doctor was unable to find a heart beat at 14 weeks, causing me to get a bonus “peace of mind” ultrasound.  I had bleeding at the beginning, and again in the middle of the pregnancy.  I got pneumonia.  I talked with my doctor about depression mid-pregnancy.  AND one week before my scheduled c-section, my son contracted influenza A.  (yowza…!)

After a week longer than anticipated (due to the influenza), she was born.  The most beautiful baby girl I have ever laid eyes on.  We knew our family was complete.  We basked in the wholeness of our house.  My husband had two wonderful weeks off work, to spend time with us while I recovered.  It was amazing. 

Then I entered into the darkest depression I had ever experienced.  I wanted to run away.  I was always mad at my kids (yes, even the 4 week old.), and I didn’t want to be!  I was so afraid I’d never find my way out of this.  My mind wandered all the time, and one day I had the very distinct thought about what kind of woman I wanted to be.  I didn’t want to be the kind of woman who threw in the towel…or just stuck around for all the wrong reasons & made her family miserable.  That was definitely the path I was on. 

I sought help.  I knew that however “normal” this was for moms after giving birth, however common this was, this just wasn’t the normal me.  {SIDE NOTE: If you have the “baby blues,” it is OKAY to get medical help.  It is more than okay for you to need and receive this help!}  I reached out to my friends, and I reached out to my doctor.  My friends held me up.  They held me up in prayer, and texted/called/visited me so that I was full to the brim with love. 

Ultimately, the Lord gently lead me to Proverbs 31.  This is the kind of woman I have always wanted to be.  I read through Proverbs 31 quite a few times.  I found it therapeutic to create pages and pages of this passage in my creative journal, & even went out on a limb and colored in my bible for the first time(!).  I felt like I discovered encouragement and more strength each time I read it.  As I read about finding food & making clothes, working to contribute to my family, helping those less fortunate, and making sure that I am healthy and strong, one verse stuck out to me over and over.

Proverbs 31:25 “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” 

Different versions state that she is clothed in strength & splendorstrength & honor are her clothing…she laughs without fear of the future…she looks to the future with confidence…she is full of joy about the future…she laughs without fear of the future

THIS is the woman I want to be!  HOW do I do this??  HOW can I possibly laugh without any fear!?  My laughter is more ofa nervous chuckle right now… how do I get to this place of laughter without fear?!? I want this confidence about my future!!!

In verse 30, the author gives us the answer:  A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. 

And THIS is my practical proverb y'all.  A little well-placed fear will change your life.  It will turn your world around to fear the one true God.  To trust in the power of His name for you & your family.  It seems easy right?  BUT as cliche as it is, you must make this choice daily. 

If I wake up in fear of the unknown, I will live in that fear all day.  I will live in that fear until my anxiety reminds me that it’s there with a pain in my chest, and I’m begging my husband to come home early.  When I wake up and find the Lord first, I can place my trust in him before my feet hit the ground, and I can live a completely different day. 

Here is how I do that:  leave the phone on the night stand until I’ve prayed.  When I do pick up that phone, I “Swipe here to read today’s First 5” (check out the First 5 app!!).  AND then when those spiritual needs are met, I get up & brush my hair and teeth.  Because no matter how you read it, you can’t “dress [yourself] in strength and make [your] arms strong” with dragon breath. ;)

ABOUT ME:  Sarah McElvaney has attended Valley MOPs for two years.  She is a wife to Justin of 8 years, and a mom to Ethan (3), Evelyn (7 months), and a baby being held in the arms of Jesus.  She wears a lot of hats, including daughter, sister, friend, & photographer, but sometimes her biggest accomplishment is getting a shower before leaving the house.