Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Motherhood and Community

Leslie Basham: After her second child was born, Erin Davis felt like a dark cloud arrived. She didn’t talk with anyone about postpartum depression until finally she reached out to the body of Christ.

Erin Davis: They got up out of their seats, they physically circled around me, they were all crying—and genuine tears—and they prayed for me in that moment, and then they didn’t stop, for weeks.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, July 10, 2014.

All this month, you’re hearing from authors in the True Woman line of books. Here’s Nancy with this week’s True Woman author.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: It’s been a lot of fun for me to have my dear friend, Erin Davis, with us on the broadcast over the past few days. I'm so excited about her love for the Lord and for her family and the the way God is using her to reach teenage girls through the Lies Young Women Believe blog. There are lots of terrific resources there for your daughter or granddaughter day after day, week after week.

I'm also so thrilled that Erin has written a new book on motherhood. It’s called Beyond Bath Time: Embracing Motherhood as a Sacred Role. This is one of the first books in the True Woman book line. It's published by Moody Publishers. It's a book that has been a great encouragement to me as I read it prior to its release. It has spoken to me in some practical areas of life that don't even relate to motherhood.

Erin, thank you for being a friend of this ministry and a friend of moms and for being willing to walk this journey and for sharing insights with us from God's Word about how we can fulfill and embrace His calling in our lives.

Early on in this series you talked about the birth of your first son Eli and some of the challenges and the adjustments you faced in your first year of being a new mom.

Then God blessed you with a second son, so far. His name is Noble, and you found out that you still didn’t have it all together. In fact, with the birth of this second child, you faced some new challenges. As I’ve read about this and heard you talk about it, I’ve thought there are a lot of moms who are going to relate, to resonate, with this.

Thanks for being transparent about your journey. Tell us a little bit about where God found you at that point and the process that He walked you through—again, part of learning to embrace motherhood as a sacred role.

Erin: You’ll be hearing me on the radio, so you won’t be able to see the emotion on my face, but this is a hard season for me to talk about. Noble was a few days old, we were home from the hospital, our house was full of balloons, the casseroles were coming in . . .  I was so excited to be a new mom again. 

I remember I was sitting on the floor in the nursery, folding tiny clothes, and it felt like a dark cloud came and enveloped me, and that was the beginning of a real struggle with postpartum depression.

Something was happening hormonally there. The hormones exit your body soon after you have the baby, and that mass exodus of hormones from my body brought on this wave of deep sadness, uncontrollable anxiety, a lot of weeping, a lot of fear . . . that really was nothing like the way that I was used to feeling.

So, much like Elisha, I was torn between what should be joy over a new life and this battle over—in this case, it was really my emotions and my feelings. It was very, very overwhelming.

Nancy: Did it totally catch you off-guard?

Erin: It certainly caught me off-guard. I thought, being my second baby, I had this thing down. I was going to be well-adjusted; I had support in place, and I felt really ready to be a mom again. So this wave of sadness, fear, worry, and anxiety really knocked me down. I was very unprepared for it.

Nancy: And I assume Jason experienced some of the impact of that as well.

Erin: He did. He was working in the garage at that moment when I first felt so overwhelmed and panicked. I went out there and said, “I am wrecked. I feel sad.” I started having these really racing-train feelings . . . I felt really out-of-control. I was fantasizing about hopping in my van and just driving. Those were not rational thoughts.

When the baby would cry in the night—I never wanted to hurt the baby as some women struggling with postpartum depression do—but I had entertained thoughts about hurting myself so that the crying would stop. It was not me. It was like somebody else was inside of my head.

My husband could only do what he could do. He didn’t know what to do. We had this new baby, and we had a toddler, and I was feeling all these thoughts that didn’t make a lot of sense. So it was a trying time for all of us.

Nancy: Did you know others who had gone through something similar?

Erin: I knew one woman in my church who had mentioned to me in passing that she had had postpartum depression twenty years earlier and that was the reason why she had only had one child. So I called her and said, “I have postpartum depression, I think. I feel out-of-control.”

Hers was extremely severe, so mine must not have seemed so severe to her, so she said, “You’ll feel better in two weeks.”

Nancy: Was that helpful or not?

Erin: Not at all! She didn’t take it very seriously, but I did eventually speak up to my MOPS group.

Nancy: When you say “eventually,” how long did that take?

Erin: A few weeks.

Nancy: So, for a few weeks you struggled with that alone?

Erin: For a few weeks I struggled with that alone. My mom had come to stay with us, to help with the baby, and I would talk to her a lot about it. She would say, “Yes, I know,” or “I remember that from when you were a baby.”

I’d gone to the doctor, and the doctor asked me how I was doing, if my emotions seemed normal, and I was afraid to tell her. So I didn’t.

I said, “Well, I feel a little sad.” And she said, “A little sad is normal, but are you dreaming of leaving your family, are you imaging hurting yourself, are you having trouble with sleep?” . . . those kinds of things.

I didn’t tell her the truth. I remember sitting in my car after that and crying because it felt like that was my moment to get some help, and I blew it. But I didn’t know how to go from this strong, confident, fully-together woman, to saying, “I can’t control my mind. I’m afraid. I don’t want to be left alone,” . . . those kind of things.

I couldn’t get the words out, so I didn’t say anything to my doctor. I felt even more hopeless because I thought, What? Am I going to call her back now and say, "I didn’t tell you the truth?” I wasn’t sure my doctor was the right person to talk to about it, anyway.

So for a few weeks after Noble was born, I was in this fog of sadness and anxiety and feeling like, How long am I going to feel this way? What’s normal, and what isn’t normal?

Nancy: And you had to keep functioning.

Erin: I had to keep functioning. I had a baby who was demanding on his own, and I had a two-year-old who was demanding, and Jason had to go back to work. I did have mom and sister and those kinds of people rotating in and out, but my mind was really where the battle was being waged. I didn’t know how to stop the racing.

Nancy: Did you find it difficult to even pray during that time?

Erin: I found it very difficult to pray, to concentrate my thoughts on anything at all. When I did pray, I found it was something like, "Help me, help me, help me, help me . . ."

Nancy: That’s not a bad prayer.

Erin: The Lord heard it, I can assure you of that, but it was very hard for me to choose God’s truth, because I just wasn’t myself. I couldn't control my circumstances, and I couldn't control my thoughts. I couldn't make myself snap out of it. If I could have, I would have.

That's part of the reason I didn't go to my pastor. I have a really wonderful pastor. I know that if I had gone to him, in hindsight, I can see that he would have been able to help and feeds God's Word to me. But I was afraid to say what I was thinking and feeling. I was afraid, wrongly, that he was going to say it was a sign of weakness in my faith or I should just read my Bible more.

I felt so out of control that I didn't use those lifelines that were already there in place. In hindsight I can see that they really would have made a difference. But I didn't tap into the help that was there.

Nancy: So you finally did go to a MOPS group, which you were thankfully already a part of, and you did find a means of grace there.

Erin: I did. I had been involved in MOPS . . . Mothers of Preschoolers. It’s a nationwide, maybe international, ministry to mothers of preschoolers. Where I live it’s a group that meets twice a month, so I had friends there.

You are assigned to a table, so I met with the same eight moms every meeting. We knew each other really well, and we were having a prayer time at the end of the meeting. People were sharing safe prayer requests, like, “I’m having rotator cuff surgery,” or “My grandmother’s ill,” or those things that are important but weren’t overly transparent.

I remember all the moms bowed their heads at the table (and I’ll cry just remembering it) the woman who was leading in prayer started to pray, and I said, “I don’t love my husband.” That wasn’t true then; it’s not true now. I love my husband . . . but that’s what I was feeling.

And the levee just broke in my heart. Those women circled the wagons around me immediately. They knew what it was like to feel, even for a passing moment, that they didn’t love their husband. They knew what it was to feel like getting in their minivan and leaving their children, even though they had never done it.

They knew what it was like to have “crazy brain,” as I started to call it. They didn’t miss a beat. They got up out of their seats, they physically circled around me, they were all crying—and genuine tears—and they prayed for me in that moment, and they didn’t stop, for weeks.

There were eight of them. They all called me every day or texted me or emailed me or sent messages on Facebook. They all came to my house and sent me meals. Somebody organized it so I had somebody coming every night. When they came, they’d say, “How are you doing?”

And I made the choice not to just give the safe answer. I could have continued to say, “I’m okay . . ." but I didn’t. They would hold the baby and ask, “How are you doing?” And I would say, “I’m not doing very good. I feel this and this . . ."

And they would breathe life into me, and they would speak God’s Word to me, and they would pray for me when I couldn’t pray for myself. One of them emailed me months later and said, "Of the whole year of MOPS, that was the most impactful . . . walking you through that trial,” because she had felt postpartum depression, and she never told a soul.

Her mom came after her baby was like nine months old and she said, "You are in your house all the time; it's dark. I think you need help." Her mom pushed her to get the help she needed. But she had never told any of us at MOPS—even years later.

They really were the eyes and the ears and the hands and the feet of Jesus to me in that season, in a time when I couldn't pursue Him in a way that I needed to on my own. By the time they got me through a few weeks, that lady from church was right. By the time my hormones equalized to some degree and I adjusted to change, I was better.

Nancy: The clouds started to lift.

Erin: The clouds started to lift. When they knew I was okay, the women backed off, but continued to check in on me regularly. It was really neat because I saw, over the course of that year, a transparency in all of them. They all felt like, If Erin can do it, if Erin can say, "I don’t love my husband" (which is a very bold statement to make), then I can be real about what I’m facing.

So it really impacted our lives in a lot of ways. I say frequently that MOPS saved my life. I feel like it did, that those women really shored me up at a time that I was really struggling.

Nancy: And what really saved your life was the grace of God mediated to you through the people of God. What an incredible provision that God would gift to us in other believers—the body of Christ.

Erin: Those "help me, help me, help me" prayers were answered by this flock of moms who gave practical help, spiritual help, emotional help. Every kind of help I needed, they stepped up and gave it. You're right. God had a provision in that season.

Nancy: I’m sure some listeners are thinking, Yeah, well I don’t have a group like that. If I shared that in my church or my small group, people would think I was nuts, or they would reject me, or they just wouldn’t be there for me.

But you didn’t know until you got open and shared that they would be there for you. You didn’t know how they would respond.

Erin: That mom that’s feeling that way has a choice. She can continue to feel what she’s feeling, the pain and anxiety, the fear, or she can risk it. Is it scary? Certainly. But it’s not been my experience that they’re going to think you’re crazy.

Postpartum depression is actually very common. It’s more mild cousin is the “baby blues.”  Almost every woman has the baby blues for a season. It’s just the nature of all those hormones pumping through our body, then they exit immediately, then we’re sleep deprived on top of that, then we have an adjustment of a new baby.

I think you’ll be surprised how many women can relate to those feelings. Little things make a huge difference in that season . . . someone to take a walk with you, someone to spend a meal with you, someone to get you out of your house every once in a while, until you can get over the hump and start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Nancy: We’re really talking about the power of sisterhood and how God gives grace to us through His people. And for some listener, it may not be postpartum depression, it may be some other major issue they’re dealing with . . . some life-changing, life-altering circumstance or adjustment, or just a season of life.

We’ve all had them. I’ve had my own within the past year—not postpartum—but other times when you just feel emotionally paralyzed or traumatized. What a gift to be able to reach out to the body of Christ and ask the Lord to send someone—or ones—who can be His hands and feet. At times, we’ll need others to do that for us and then there are times we can be that for someone else.

We need each other. For women to stay isolated in these different seasons of life—Satan does such things with your mind. You think nobody else understands, nobody else is going through this, this will never end, and the lies just go on and on. To be able to break the secrecy and to be honest . . .

And it’s biblical. God says when we humble ourselves (and that’s what it takes to take the risk), then what does He do? He pours grace out on those who humble themselves. What a huge need that is for mothers.

Erin: One of the things I’ve become so passionate about, from my own life and from writing this book, is to impassion the church to equip moms and to create vehicles for sisterhood. Because we know from the Bible that God has a heart for mothers. Part of the role of the church is to have a heart for things God has a heart for.

Titus 2—verses you often talk about—talks about older women and younger women. Those things used to happen more naturally in days gone by. I know I depend on my church to fill in the gaps for family and relationship and mentoring that don’t happen as naturally with my family because my mom lives two hundred miles away, my sister lives hundreds of miles away, and that’s just the nature of the beast now.

So the church is uniquely positioned to meet this need for moms to connect with other moms. I give lots of ideas in the book how to do that. Maybe it’s starting a big program like MOPS. Maybe it is three moms who meet at the playground once a month. Maybe it's two moms to seek God's heart in motherhood and to do it together and to encourage each other. I don’t know what that looks like, but I do think the church has a responsibility to connect moms to each other so that they continue to live out God’s calling for motherhood as high and holy.

Nancy: And if you’re sitting there thinking, “Well, my church isn’t doing that,” don’t wait for somebody else to do it. I have three friends who are young moms who, just on their own—they live within a short driving distance from each other—they meet together once a week to pray for each other and for their children and the kids play in the basement The older ones take care of the younger ones.

It’s one hour or ninety minutes, and that is their lifeline. They need to do that when times are good, when times are bad, and they’re laying a foundation for ongoing ministry in each other’s lives. They’re lifting each other up. We all need that. Don’t wait for somebody else to come and make that happen.

Erin: You can’t wait. I know, because I tried to pass the buck in my own church. I felt the need for it in my own church, and I went to the children’s pastor and said, “We need a mom’s group.” And she said, “Bless your little heart”  . . . Christian code for, “It ain’t happenin'.” I continued talking to her and talking to her. It wasn’t that she was unwilling; she did end up helping me launch a mom's group.

But it wasn’t a passion button for her, and I don’t think she had the vision. I don’t think a lot of people in the church have the vision for the need to equip parents.

So eventually, I said, “Okay, I’ll do it. As a mom of young children, my time is in short supply, my financial resources are in short supply, my energy is nil.” So it was difficult to take on this additional responsibility, but I’ve seen blessing on top of blessing on top of blessing come out of this little group of moms.

And for us, we meet once a month, there are about eight of us. Our mantra is, “We’re going to eat food we didn’t cook off of dishes we don’t have to wash.” That’s all we do. We pray for each other, and we’ve been on Titus 2 for months and months. We just read that passage and try to glean a lot out of it.

It’s up to you, mom. It’s up to you, non-mom, woman in the church, now that you’re aware of the need, now that you’re aware that sisterhood is powerful and that moms needs that connection to other moms, do something about it.

Nancy: And don’t feel you have to be a young mom to be involved in this. That’s the whole theme of Titus 2, older women are to be the encouragers of the younger women. As an older woman myself, I realize there are places I have walked where God has met me and encouraged me when I felt overwhelmed and hopeless and helpless. Now is the time of my life to be taking some younger women under my wing and, informally or formally, encouraging them, blessing them, being a prayer support, an encourager.

Your children may be out of the nest, the heavy lifting of your mom days is behind you, but now is the time to share out of your life message, out of the deposit that God has placed within you. And maybe it’s just looking for one other mom, one young mom in your church who looks tired and looks like she could use some encouragement, and to say, “Bring your little one over, and let’s have coffee.”

It may be just one-on-one like that. Erin, you’re a go-getter and a little bit entrepreneurial, so starting a group with eight women may be something God had graced you to do. For some other women, that’s going to seem impossible. It doesn’t have to be eight. Make it one, make it two—don’t say it has to be every month.

It may be just as you’re at church on Sundays. You’re not just looking at women in your own age group and demographic, but you’re looking around for a mom who has three little ones hanging on her. You say, “Can I hold your little one? How can I pray for you this week?”

Erin: The first step I give in the book about reaching out to moms in your own church is to pray. And I don’t mean that as Christian cliché at all. You know what moms need? They need somebody praying for them; they need somebody praying with them.

So you might have a long list of reasons why you feel you can’t minister to moms, but I doubt any of them are going to prevent you from praying for moms. So find a mom and pray like crazy for her, and let God take it from there. He’ll do something more wonderful and radical with that offering than you can probably imagine.

Nancy: Pray for her and pray with her. Catch her at church, catch her on the phone, say, “Can I just pray for you?” And that will do so much to minister grace.

So, the power of mom to mom, sister to sister, ministering to each other. I'm also really thankful that today through the means of technology we have some opportunities to minister to one another. I’m excited about the True Woman blog here at Revive Our Hearts, that you’re a part of, Erin, and others as well. I meet a lot of people who listen to Revive Our Hearts who are not at all familiar with the True Woman blog.

I say, “Go to the True Woman blog, TrueWoman.com." Especially if you’re a young mom, you can’t get out a lot—although it’s for women at every season of life—you’ll find other women there you can interact with. Now, Erin, you have a blog—you’ve already had one for young women, Lies Young Women Believe, and now you’ve started one that goes along with your Beyond Bath Time book. Tell us about that blog.

Erin: BeyondBathTime.com is a blog we started to support this book. I have a cadre of mom writers that are just top-notch. They’re in every season of life, and they’re writing about motherhood through the filter of God’s Word. I just glean so much from that blog.

We also have supports there for how to launch a mom’s group and how to use the book in a small group setting and those kinds of things. But we’re new . . . it’s a new website. Our vision for it is to become, really, a hub for those moms who read the book, or not, but who decide, “Okay, I’m going to embrace motherhood as a sacred role. I’m going to re-envision this. I’m going to rethink my role, and I’m going to use it as kingdom work from here on out.”

Well, that’s counter-cultural. You can decide that, but flipping the switch to actually living it is going to take some equipping. BeyondBathTime.com is a place where you can get some of that encouragement, interact with other moms, and get daily fodder for continuing to live this out.

Nancy: Well, lots of good resources here. I want to encourage older women, as well, to pick up a copy of this book, Beyond Bath Time. You may feel a little silly. You may say, “My kids are grown and married and have their own kids.”

Well, they can use an older woman who understands some of what they’re going through. Read this book and then pass it on as a resource to a young mom. It will help equip you to be an encouragement and source of blessing and grace in some other mom’s life.

We’re not called to retire from active duty and ministry. I know, Erin, as I read the book—and I’m not exactly the target demographic for the book, being an older single woman—but it just fueled me and charged my batteries about extending grace and help and encouragement to some of the women in the same season of life that you’re in.

So it’s a great resource—Beyond Bath Time: Embracing Motherhood as a Sacred Role, by Erin Davis.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been talking with Erin Davis, author of the book Beyond Bath Time. Today, you have a chance to interact with Erin. She’ll be part of the Revive Our Hearts listener blog. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com and scroll to the end of today’s transcript.

Ask your question or make a comment about today’s program. Maybe Erin will respond to your post. We’re able to provide you rich content at ReviveOurHearts.com and the daily radio program, thanks to listeners who support the ministry financially.

When you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size, we’ll send you a copy of the book you’ve been hearing about today. Ask for Beyond Bath Time by Erin Davis when you call 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Erin Davis says every mom can be a missionary. Find out how, tomorrow. She’ll be back with Nancy on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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