giving up on good: grace, please?

I’m linking up with Jessi and Hayley for Giving Up On Good today. Check the link-up on their blogs to read about what other good things women are giving up to focus on best in their lives.

Can I ask up front for grace on this one? I admittedly withheld such gentleness from other women before my own experience, but I am asking you for it now. No public flogging, at least, okay? Pretty please? Because I am about to talk about the wonderful act of breastfeeding and how I gave up that good, good thing.

I want to preface by saying that I believe breastfeeding is the optimal nutritional choice for our little ones, and, in addition, it is a beautiful, natural, awesome-in-many-ways ability that God crafted within our female bodies. But it’s hard and complex and in our generation has become something about which we seem to feel justified in judging other women. I’m not okay with that, and I say that as someone who has experienced both sides.

Caroline had a textbook latch from the beginning. My hospital was pro-breastfeeding and provided around-the-clock lactation support. I had studied up. I should have succeeded. But every time we nursed, my delicate little girl ended up in a red-bodied, scrunched face, totally pissed off crying fit.

We kept at it every three hours with nurses supporting us at each feeding, but in the wee hours of our last morning in the hospital, my favorite nursery nurse gently told me that Caroline had lost 11% of her body weight, and that meant we had to supplement. I hated seeing her drink that stuff, and I hated even more that she seemed to like it so much.

When we came home, I was still determined to figure it out. It took time; I knew that. That first night at home, though, something painful started to happen: I began to truly dread feedings. All my interactions with my baby seemed hard and tearful and just plain negative. What I didn’t know then was that I was developing symptoms of postpartum depression as well, which clearly contributed to the difficult emotions–and lack of positive emotions–I was experiencing. I looked at the long stretch of days and nights before me and decided I could not go on feeling that way about my baby and myself.

I moved onto pumping exclusively, which solved the problem of the screaming fits and revealed the likely culprit. I was producing next to nothing. As I struggled with my production, I cried and prayed and dreaded so many moments of my baby’s first several days.

Eventually, it was enough. Not enough milk, but enough of sacrificing the peace in my family for this ideal set up in my mind. While I can give you logical reason after logical reason that I wanted to breastfeed, the truth is that it became a pride issue for me. I had seen other women give up so quickly, complaining about how extremely difficult or painful or impossible for them it was, and I had thought they were weak. Then it happened to me, and giving up breastfeeding salvaged what peace and happiness I could find in those early weeks.

If you happen to experience something similar, you should know that you can stick with it, overcome many obstacles, and be successful breastfeeding. Most women say it takes about 6 weeks to get the hang of it. But….if you find that peace is leading you in a different direction, then it’s okay. Like so many choices we make in parenting, sometimes the optimal choice truly isn’t the best when you look at your family holistically. I wish breastfeeding would have worked out for us, but I have zero regrets about my decision to give it up, and I’ve had many sweet bottle moments with my girl.

giving up on good: the golden girl

I was a pretty perfect kid. Just ask my parents, and they’ll tell you. I was an easy baby, a mature child, and a decidedly unrebellious teenager. The possibility of getting in trouble was the only deterrent needed to keep me in line. In fact, I was more of a “good kid” than I think my parents even required.

I liked it that way. I liked being the girl that all the adults fawned over for my superior maturity and behavior, my intellect, and my good decisions. Other kids might not have found me all that cool at times, but whatever. I was on the pathway to sure success.

I had finished college, gotten married, moved into a new house, earned a Master’s degree, and landed a big girl job. Society’s orderly timeline had been followed to the tee. I entered full-fledged adulthood with my golden child status soundly in place. And I was flat out miserable.

You know when an idea starts to develop and you get that flicker of a thought, like a match that doesn’t quite light? And you know when that thought is so out-of-bounds crazy that you can’t believe your mind had the audacity to produce it? That’s happened to you, right? This idea popped into my head one day–quit my job, it said. And it started there, with that audacious idea.

This isn’t the post to hash out all the details of the journey, but I must tell you that God has done some fun, hard, glorious work in my life since that day. He has wrenched the grasp of my heart off of my golden girl status. It’s not that I don’t want to do good things or play by the rules or be respectful. It’s not about any of that.

He showed me how prideful I was, how deeply I treasured others’ positive opinions of me, and how I had come to depend on my sense of achievement to fulfill my sense of self.

So I gave it up. I gave up the glowing golden crown I had been wearing since babyhood. I gave up the safe plan and all the “shoulds” that come along with it. In return, God shepherded me through an explosive growth in my faith, a newfound understanding of His grace, and a contentment in just knowing that I am His and He is mine.

His plan is turning out to be way more interesting than mine was, anyway.

do not be discouraged

Last night, a group of old friends gathered for the first time in a few years to send off one of the families with love, well wishes, and, of course, food.

The totality of the story wasn’t known to everyone present, but the truth was that we were celebrating a mighty work of the Lord in that family’s life. For many months, a friend had been begging and wrestling and, ultimately, trusting God like never before and in a way that even amongst Christians is often rare. It isn’t my story to share, but it is a testimony, not only to the world but to other Christians as well, of the absolute, magnificent, wondrous power of the Lord we serve.

On the dark drive home, my heart was overwhelmed with praise. So many months of prayer, such a common but heartbreaking situation, and then God’s glorious work right there before my eyes. He can mend our broken places. He can transform our human hearts. He can tend to every. little. bitty. detail of our lives.

Then–

My husband and I got some disappointing news this morning about an exciting potential opportunity. We’re trying to let the chickens hatch before we count the eggs, but honestly, we’re pretty invested in this possibility. I tried to encourage my husband, prayed that he wouldn’t feel discouraged, reminded myself that God knows what is good for us better than we do. But–

I was feeling a little let down, especially for my husband.

Then I remembered my friend and that family and how my heart had wanted to burst with praise only twelve hours ago.

Not only is God in control, and not only does He know what’s best, but He is fully able to make it all happen. No situation is too great.