Anxiety · Legalism

The Postpartum Legalist: Part 2

 This is part two of a series where I’m sharing my experience with postpartum depression and legalism. To read part one, click here.
Also, read Leaving Legalism.

Displayed in a tiny box on the mantle of my heart sat my Savior. He was angry, vengeful, and ready to point every flaw as I walked through each day of my life. He was a system of rules and preferences that, if I could achieve them, pleased my flesh. Serving Him meant completing a, b, and c so I could be in right standing with God.

I threw out CD’s. I shunned some of my family. I pat myself on the back when the guy next to me wasn’t as uber-spiritual as I was. It was all an effort to become more separated unto God, but really it was more about becoming isolated in myself. Living this way was perfectly okay with me, because I thought I was really doing God a big favor.

This is where I’ll note that no one forced me to believe this way. I was sitting under good, solid Bible preaching and teaching. My husband often was the more “liberal” out of the two of us. I simply wanted to be right and do right all of the time. The problem wasn’t my desire, it was the fact that I was trying to do it in my own power and for all the wrong reasons. I was also very spiritually immature and ignorant of the Word. 

I knew His saving grace.

I knew that He found me on a Sunday night after I had fought to believe that my good works could earn Heaven. I remember knowing it was me who was headed to hell, in desperate need of Jesus. I knew the feeling of the greatest weight being lifted off of my shoulders as my name was written in the Book of Life. I knew His transforming power and how it changed my life. I knew being set free from a life of trying to attain righteousness.

But it didn’t take long before I was taught that to teach me, He would give me a hard way to go. I was afraid of getting on His bad side. 

I knew I couldn’t ever lose my salvation. I knew I couldn’t go to hell. 

I just obsessed about always being right. 

My third baby was born and it was as though my brain snapped. All of those thoughts combined with my usual hypochondria went scrambling in my brain on repeat. My legalistic thinking is where I immediately resorted to. It didn’t occur to me that it was hormonal. I didn’t discuss it with my doctor. I thought most doctors (especially those in the psychology or psychiatry field) were messengers of the devil. Instead, I resigned that God was trying to tell me something and there was some kind of hidden sin I was unaware of.

To me, there was no way a person who was happily walking with Jesus could feel this way.

“You’re too blessed to be depressed!”

I’d hear that and panic. I knew that I was blessed beyond my wildest imaginations and yet I couldn’t keep it together. I was always obsessing over my kids dying somehow or discovering my baby had passed in her sleep. My stomach always had this sick feeling of impending doom and I couldn’t make it go away. I was motivated and driven by it. I figured that my feelings were the Holy Spirit trying to guide me and direct me.

Those feelings condemned me, tormented me, and screamed that I wasn’t truly His. 

I was a terrible mom. I couldn’t breastfeed because I needed to serve God more. I messed up on the piano because I picked the wrong song. My kids got sick because I yelled at them. My house never got clean because God was trying to teach me a lesson. My dog died because I didn’t pay enough attention to her.

Every bad thing that happened had to be a consequence for disobedience to God.

As I shared in my previous post, I was no stranger to panic attacks. This went way beyond. It was my constant mental state. It was who I had become. It controlled me.
I had found myself in a personal hell on earth mixed with babies, late nights, ️laundry, and these oppressive thoughts that were a part of me.

I looked around and the other moms seemed okay. They just prayed and worked through it. It was incredibly frustrating because that had once been me. However, 6 o’clock in the evening came around and I’d still be curled up in tears because of my thoughts. I was in constant torment. I felt it was my fault because I just couldn’t get it together.

My husband, my parents, my in laws, my pastor, my closest friends – they all suggested the same thing.

You are probably suffering from post partum anxiety. 

A couple of people even went further and said that my thinking stemmed from a very unhealthy and unscriptural view of God. A view that preached a loving Jesus on the cross, but a vengeful jerk in the sanctification of the believer.

Anxiety takes those normal fears and amplifies them by a thousand. It clutches tightly to them, making it feel impossible to remove oneself from them.

Realizing that perhaps all of this wasn’t my fault was the moment I saw hope.

There was no epiphany. There was no come to Jesus moment where I laid it all on the altar and walked away free of my burdens. I always thought it would work that way.

Instead,I began the journey of admitting that mental illness is real and that it had happened to me.

At the same time, it was also admitting that maybe God was bigger that tiny box I had kept Him in. My black and white rules about how He worked didn’t seem to fit. That awful judgment I had passed on others had turned out to be false.

As I said before, anxiety takes fears and thoughts that already reside in your heart and enlarges it before you. It could have destroyed me. It could have taken my life, as the thought briefly crossed my mind. But I was too scared of dying at that point.

Anxiety was what God used to propel me into seeking answers and demanding truth. Eventually, this thorn in my flesh became my gift.

The next part of my story is an important one. My legalistic thinking and anxious thoughts collided, coming to a head. My head began to spin faster with the thought …

“Truly saved people don’t feel like this. Are you even saved?”


Anxiety · Legalism

The Postpartum Legalist: Part 1

(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 2 Corinthians 10:4

To read about my experience in walking away from legalism, read here.

It always started with a sick feeling in my stomach. Kind of the same nervous way you would feel on the first day of school. It would rise into my throat and I would struggle to swallow.

“Mom, I think I’m going to throw up!”

She’d calmly tell me that feelings aren’t facts. I wasn’t likely to throw up even if I felt like it.

“Think of eating the biggest piece of pizza,” she’d say.

“Cake? Cookies? A peanut butter and jelly sandwich?”

Every time this happened, we would name a list of food. If I still had an appetite, I was less likely to truly be sick. This always brought a calming assurance and got me grounded in reality. I wasn’t going to throw up. It was just a panic attack.

Looking back, I realize I have been having them from a young age. And yes, a lot of them revolved around the fear of throwing up. I remember a small period of time in kindergarten when I would refuse to swallow my food in fear of it coming back up. Every time another kid in class threw up, I complained of chest pains.

It always revolved around puking.

Amazingly enough, I’m the hair holding, puke cleaner upper in our house. I have a stomach of steel and very few things make me sick.

Even as a young adult, I would sit in church services and check for the nearest exit just in case.

I don’t have stomach issues. I don’t have any strange food allergy that makes me nauseous. Goodness, I only had mild morning sickness during pregnancy!

But even as a young adult, I was still obsessed with this fear of puking.

Anxiety takes those normal fears and amplifies them by a thousand. It clutches tightly to them, making it feel impossible to remove oneself from them.

Once our home got hit with the stomach virus of 2011 (which we dubbed “the plague”), I got over my fear. As silly as it sounds, it was quite a victory! I praised God for it! I figured I had the anxiety thing all figured out. I was saved, living for Jesus and right with God – I guessed that I probably wouldn’t struggle with it any more. I knew that feelings weren’t facts. I knew enough Bible to calm me on a bad day. I was so strong that I believed mental illness was more often than not a sin issue, not a physical one.

There wasn’t much grace for me to give to people who struggled with mental illness. My own parents both struggle and for years, I thought they just didn’t want to deal with life. I did not understand what they had gone through. When other people would share their experiences, I’d roll my eyes and think, “well, maybe if you got right with God or trusted Him more, you wouldn’t have that problem.”

Or, I’d do them a solid and question their salvation for them.

Clearly, I had some lessons to learn.

This begins the series of my journey with the worst anxiety I have ever dealt with in my life. I thought I understood anxiety and how to cope with my strange emetophobic obsession. However, time would pass and my third baby would be born, bringing in fun hormones and all my notions into question.

Combined with my own spiritual immaturity and ignorance, my days turned into a horror show. I was walking in terror with my worst companion: the anxious thoughts which consumed me.

I was afraid of living. I was afraid of dying. I was afraid of moving some days.

Sadly, I was even afraid of God.

The same thing I had said about others who struggled with mental illness was the same merciless garbage I preached to myself.
You must not be right with God. Maybe you’re not really even saved. People who are right with God don’t deal with this.

It was the scariest place I have been in a long time, but I believe it was Holy Spirit ordained. There were some truths I needed to see, things I needed to understand. This experience pushed me to seek Truth and demand answers, to go boldly to the throne of grace with my fear. Jesus held me tightly through each step and each blow that hit emotionally. He reassured me that I was His with each panic attack as I’d calm down, remembering the moment I first called on His name.

All of this had been building in me for quite some time, as I do believe it’s just in my DNA to be anxious. (As I shared, it’s kind of a family trait!) I was also developing a lot of beliefs about God that were shallow, small, and simplistic. I was quite ignorant of the Word of God, though I would’ve proudly argued otherwise.

Quite simply, this story begins after I delivered our third baby. This was my story as a postpartum legalist.

Bad mix.

Continue reading here.


Let’s Homeschool! Let’s Jump off a Cliff!

This was our morning. Constance was feeling sick and did her work on the couch. 

A little over a year ago, my husband and I decided we were going to homeschool our children.

Talk about feeling like I had just went free falling off of a cliff.

Immediately, I was filled with self doubt over whether or not I could really do it. I wondered if my kids would turn out normal or if they would learn anything. I was terrified.

My actual critics have been few. Yeah, I’ve had a few curious questions from others.

What about socialization? How do they learn? How do you teach two at the same time? What about high school? What about college? Will they turn out to be normal?!?!?!(Post coming soon with answers to those questions!)

I’ve also heard the strange comment that boys who are homeschooled turn out effeminate, weird, and only know how to knit and play piano. Mmkay.

{Commercial break: Weird kids are cool. I don’t even know how to knit, but if my son learned, it would be great for his hand-eye coordination. And I want all of my kids to play piano. As long as my boy understands how to be a Godly man that works hard and raises his family, I believe his masculinity will remain intact. Not to mention my five year old boy is already wanting to grow a beard.}

My kids are weird. They’re my kids. I was one of the weirdest kids in school and I went to both public and Christian schools my entire life. My husband was a preacher’s son; weird by birth.

I had to stop allowing people’s opinions of how I raise my kids affect my mindset. Just like when I screamed for that bloody epidural, when I chose to breastfeed, when I chose to stop breastfeeding, when my kids can’t watch a movie their friends watch, and how I discipline my kids. People have opinions of that, right?


Everyone has an opinion. That’s life. Everyone also has fear before they jump into a big decision that could impact their child’s life. That’s normal.

So, I had to decide I was going to homeschool my kids in spite of any criticism or fear. I was going to homeschool and I was going to own it.

Ehhh even when I thought, “There is no way I can do this.”

Maybe you’ve just made the decision to homeschool or you’re teetering on the idea. Just know that once you’re actually in the thick of it, you’re too busy learning to worry about it. You’re busy watching your kids grow. You’re busy troubleshooting a problem to ensure your child has that lightbulb moment.

You are too busy enjoying the wonderful privilege of watching your child learn.

The thoughts do come. My oldest has days where she acts like she can’t read very well although the day before she did perfectly. I sometimes feel like my middle son’s mind is on another planet while I’m trying to teach a new concept to him. My toddler? Y’all know toddler life. I’m just trying to keep that kid from digging into the toilet or taking her pants off.

On days like that, I do feel frazzled and wonder if I really can do this. I just remain determined. We pray, we get our books out, and we get busy as we try again. It doesn’t take long before I’m reminded why I chose to do this or how much of a blessing it is.

I’m still pretty fresh into my homeschooling journey, but I desire to share my experience so that others may see it’s possible. By the grace of God and a giant mug of coffee, it can be done. In just these last few months, I have seen my kids grow and learn in ways I never thought possible.

Forget the critics. You probably wont have many anyway. Even people who don’t want to homeschool their kids will typically respect your decision and may even find it kind of interesting. The older folks at the grocery will say, oh that’s just so good in this day and age, you know? 

As far as you’re concerned, remember that you’re the one God gave to these kids to raise, nurture, and love. You are capable of doing this.

All that is required of you is diligence, determination, a great support system, and a willingness to learn. (Yes, prepare to be schooled even on the kindergarten level.)

Most importantly, you need the Lord to help you and guide you each step of the way. He can give you the confidence you need to help your child succeed. He can help you on those chaotic mornings where you’re an hour behind schedule and your house is a wreck. (Oh wait, that was me today.) He will meet you right where you are and give you just what you need to pursue this goal.

My next homeschool related post will be answering some questions I’m frequently asked. It will also include some resources that have helped me as I have gotten started!