On Super Tuesday, Vote Your Hope

My friend Lucas has asked if he could guest post today on the topic of Super Tuesday. As soon as he asked, I said, “who am I to say no?”

Then I couldn’t get that question out of my mind.

Who am I to say no? Would I put up a pro-Trump guest post? Pro-Cruz? It’s a fair question.

I do tend towards political writing, although I usually publish those pieces elsewhere and keep posts here to more family- and faith-oriented topics, but a large part of what I write about is the hard work of learning to understand one another, and treating those with whom we disagree with the same compassion and standards we treat those with whom we do agree. Getting feedback from the choir is lots of fun, but not why one goes into the business. Or shouldn’t be, anyway.

So with that in mind, must the answer to my burning and introspective question be “yes?” I’d love to know your answer (and reasoning), but more importantly, I’d love to hear your voice on what Lucas has to say, whether it’s agreement or otherwise.

And for those who disagree (I have many friends and family who will, as does Lucas!), may grace abound.

Without further ado…

On Super Tuesday, Vote Your Hope
We Need a Better Choice in November

By Lucas Jackson

It’s pretty unlikely that Donald Trump is literally a fascist.

But you don’t have to believe the worst about Trump to recognize that his candidacy has unleashed something dark in our country. Like all demagogues, he’s exploited legitimate grievances. Disastrous trade deals that benefited corporations at the expense of everybody else. A corrupt political system owned by special interests. Politicians who can’t answer simple questions like:

What did you say in your speech to Goldman Sachs?
or
Will you ever lie to the American people?

And like all demagogues, Mr. Trump takes those grievances and spins them to play on the darkness in all of us – racism, prejudice, nationalism, hate.

And he is poised, today, to put a stake through the heart of his GOP opponents and become the most disliked candidate in American history from either party to win the nomination. That is not an opinion, it’s a statistical fact.

The second most disliked candidate in history to win a nomination? Hillary Clinton. Unless she isn’t nominated.

Hillary Clinton is the worst possible candidate to run against Donald Trump. Every one of Trump’s legitimate critiques of the political system hit home with Clinton. Trump is self-funded, Clinton and her Super Pac takes millions from Wall Street. Trump is against terrible “free trade” deals. Clinton has supported them. Trump is even, apparently, against the Iraq war. Clinton voted for it.

But far more than any one issue, Clinton embodies everything that sends so many voters of all parties (including independents) searching for an alternative of some kind. The lack of honesty and trustworthiness. The shifting positions on issues to fit the political mood. The corruption. Many of those voters have fled to Trump. But many have turned away from the siren call of hate and division and instead supported Bernie Sanders, an actual independent who takes no money from special interests, has no Super Pac, is funded by millions of small contributions (the average is, what, 27 bucks? I think we’ve heard that somewhere) and seems to be the rare politician who – agree with him or not – has the courage of his convictions.

With Clinton vs. Trump, the choice is between the same old politics of corruption and greed vs. something even worse.

Democrats scared of losing to Trump might consider supporting the more electable Democrat. And despite multiple polls showing Sanders doing better against Trump than Clinton, the media seems to be convinced that Clinton is more electable. Democrats wary of the rise of Trump may support Clinton out of fear, even if they like Sanders better.

Don’t vote your fear. Vote your hope. Vote your love. Vote your conscience.

The alternative is that come November, we’re left to choose between two troubling candidates – one of them is surrounded by aides who lobbied against the Affordable Care Act, is on record supporting the use of cluster bombs, which mostly kill children, has been involved in coups around the world and promoting perpetual wars of regime change and whose last campaign used racist divisive rhetoric.

The other candidate is Donald Trump.

We can do better.

Advertisements

Why a Pro-Life Christian Supports Bernie Sanders

Today I’m happy to feature fellow political junkie, Lucas Jackson, as a guest blogger. Lucas takes on the oh-so-sensitive issues of both abortion and politics, and makes a strong argument for why he, a pro-life Christian, is voting for a pro-choice candidate, Bernie Sanders. Lucas and I would love to hear your thoughts on this; you can leave your take on the issue in the comment section below. And if you want to contact Lucas personally, you can reach him at jacksonlucas149@gmail.com. Enjoy!

Why a Pro-LIfe Christian Supports Bernie Sanders
By Lucas Jackson

Jesus isn’t running for president.

Neither is Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King Jr. or Gandhi. Dietrich Bonhoffer and William Wilberforce also aren’t on the ballot.

No matter who we support he or she will be very flawed.

I’ve watched almost every debate, followed the political cycle religiously and read up on the candidates’ records extensively.

And my takeaway is that the candidate who best embodies my values as a Christian – and it’s honestly not that close – is Bernie Sanders. And while my perspective below is a Christian one, I feel strongly that much of it may resonate with people of other faiths or more secular backgrounds.

Make no mistake – Bernie Sanders’ position on abortion troubles me, and his rhetoric on that issue is largely unhelpful. He calls pro-life Republicans “extremists” and gives no ground to the other side. Marco Rubio showed the type of dialogue the abortion issue in our country so desperately needs at the Republican debate Saturday night, saying that he recognized the right of women to control their own bodies and respected that right but views it as less than the right of an unborn child to life.

But the reality is that the Supreme Court is not going to fundamentally change abortion in America – only a revolution in our political and economic systems will.

Our political system must change because right now it gives us two parties that selectively choose when life matters. We need a realignment that brings together people of conscience on the right and left. But it also must change because it’s corrupt, and our government, like any of us, cannot serve two masters. Abortion will be sacrificed like any other non-financial issue to political expediency when the powers that be (for lack of a better phrase) decree it.

We need an economic revolution that puts the needs of people first and gives women and families the resources they need to both prevent unwanted pregnancy and reduce the economic hardship associated with having a baby and raising a child.

Sanders is not perfect. In most ways he has not yet converted his message of anger at Wall Street and Washington into a hopeful, unifying message of what the future in America can be. He has not elaborated on his foreign policy views nearly enough and stumbled when asked about them in the last debate. As far as my views on gun control are concerned, he’s not as strong as Hillary Clinton.

But Sanders is running a campaign that resonates with my most deeply held Christian values – loving our enemies, serving the least of these, telling the truth, acting with humility. When Jesus overturns the money changers’ tables in the Temple, Sanders says “exactly,” he doesn’t say “yes, but what could they offer me in the way of campaign contributions or speaking fees?” When Jesus says “love your enemies,” Sanders passes up opportunity after opportunity to take advantage of political moments to attack his main rival. He will not run a negative ad. He doesn’t have a Super PAC to run one for him.

When given the chance to savage Clinton – already struggling with the issue of trustworthiness – over her State Department emails, Sanders said “enough about the damn emails.” When confronted about his staff accessing Clinton campaign data, Sanders offered an explanation of what happened and noted he’d fired the staffer. When the debate moderator persisted and said “will you apologize?” there was an audible gasp when Sanders turned to Clinton and said, “Yes. I’m sorry.” Politicians just don’t do that.

When Jesus and page after page of scripture calls us to walk humbly before our God, Sanders seems to be the only political candidate in either party whose campaign is based on something other than “look how great I am.” He rarely praises himself. When he talks about his record, it’s usually to defend it or emphasize facts. Compare that to the other candidates in both parties and the contrast is surprisingly shocking. He is campaigning on an idea, not for his own glory. (I personally think Rand Paul in many ways matched Sanders in this respect, but he’s no longer running.)

And my God, he tells the truth. He does seem to avoid exaggerating or twisting facts, but what is really remarkable is that for all the criticism that his health care and anti-poverty proposals are “unicorns and rainbows,” he’s actually got it exactly right – he says clearly that he can’t get these proposals passed under the current Congress, that the only way we are going to fundamentally change our country is if millions of Americans engage in the political process and demand change. He’s right.

I admit, I also agree with a lot of his policies. Wall Street tanked our economy and controls our political system. Our criminal justice system and economy are corrupt and racially unjust. Climate change is real, almost certainly man-made, and serious. And so on.

But what attracts me to him most of all isn’t that I agree with his solutions, it’s that he’s addressing the actual problems in our society. Agree or disagree with his proposals to fix these problems. But what must be recognized is that Bernie Sanders is offering solutions that actually meet those problems head on, rather than solutions that are politically expedient.

I find his message of revolution to be deeply Christian. Jesus’ message was one of radical love. President Jesus would not accept millions of children living in poverty. He would not accept 30 million Americans without health insurance. He wouldn’t accept the greed and corruption on Wall Street and in our political system.

And that’s what’s so important about Sanders – his message isn’t just that we should fight child poverty, it’s that we shouldn’t accept the idea that poor children are a fact of life. In that sense, he’s not just challenging economic policies or political realities, he’s challenging the fundamental assumptions that underline our political system and our society. That’s what’s so radical – and so Christian – about Sanders.

In challenging our political system, he’s begun to recognize that the solution to our problems doesn’t lie solely on his side of the political spectrum. He’s winning independents who are voting in the Democratic primaries. In New Hampshire, where some undecided voters are choosing between Sanders and Trump, he’s recognizing that our disastrous trade policies have devastated working families on the right and left. There’s space there to forge an unlikely coalition, the type a corporate, pro-trade Democrat like Clinton could never forge. And Sanders went to Liberty University and spoke eloquently about the possibility of working together to fight poverty even when there’s disagreement on abortion and gay marriage. It would have been easy for him to reject the invitation from Jerry Falwell Jr. to attend. But he went.

There are other candidates with redeeming qualities. John Kasich has a unifying message in an otherwise angry primary field. Chris Christie deserves enormous credit for talking about how being pro-life means being pro-life for people after they’re born, like the 16-year old drug addict lying on the floor of Juvenile Hall. “I’m pro-life for her,” Christie said.

Ultimately, we need a President who will challenge the idea that childhood poverty is acceptable. Who will unify people across religious and political lines, rather than turn politics into a team sport. Who will govern effectively with the Congress he or she has, but inspire and lead the country to elect the Congress it deserves. Who will stand up and say that the dignity of human life must be protected, all human life, from the womb to the villages of Iraq and Afghanistan to death row to the streets of Chicago. A President who understands that family values include letting women bond with their baby after it’s born rather than sending them back to work three minimum wage jobs within a week or so after giving birth. A President who radically rethinks how we interact with the rest of the world. A President who is actually pro-life and not “pro-birth,” and understands that abortion rates decline when we address poverty, when we take care of mothers and families, when we end the school to prison pipeline that destroys families.

Until that President comes along, the best I can do is Feel the Bern. And there’s no shame in that.

sanders-2016-feel-the-bern

Heavenly Treasures

Today I have the pleasure of writing for my friend, Lindsey Smallwood. I wrote this over a year ago, as we prepared for our move to Maryland. I’m happy to say I’ve learned my lesson, but it did take a while. We’re all a work in progress…

You can read the post here, at Lindsey’s excellent blog.

(Graphic by Lindsey Smallwood)

(Graphic by Lindsey Smallwood)

Tattoos and Cardigans

Once upon a time, I was young.

I thought all the admonishments, advice, and wisdom of my elders would not apply to my life, and I shook off their words.

I believed but didn’t always live prayerfully.

I thought through things as wisely as I could, often better than most, but youth does have its shortcomings.

I got my first tattoo when I was fifteen. A friend performed the task, in my living room, using a hollowed Bic pen, thread, India ink and a guitar string. I was in a band then (Christian punk), and each member got the same x-eyed smiley face to commemorate our commitment to one another.

Click here to read the rest of today’s post over at my friend Bronwyn’s site. I know she’d love to have you.

 

1262497_10201585304982101_489722948_o

Surviving in Difficult Marriage: Car Wash

Today’s post is from author Elisabeth K. Corcoran. Give it a read, and be sure to check out Elisabeth’s new book!

I don’t know why I remember so vividly sitting in the car that cold, sad January morning, while my then-husband washed our car, and my kids sat in the backseat.  They were tired and whiney, pre-teens who just wanted lunch and to be done with the day.

It was one month prior to being threatened for the first time with the cruelest words anyone had ever spoken to me.

And it was two months prior to me breaking the news to our little world of the abuse that had been going on for fifteen years.

But I didn’t know any of that then.

What I knew that morning was that my aunt had just died and we were on our way home from her funeral.  And that my husband had just taken us to Wendy’s where the kids were only allowed to get hamburgers and water, no fries, and I couldn’t decide what to get if anything because my husband wasn’t getting anything at all, choosing instead to wait until we got home to eat, and I always gauged what I would get based on how much he spent on his order.  So I remember struggling with this guilt and resentment and restriction that felt so disrespectful and intrusive on the grief that was supposed to have top billing that day.

I remember a few days before when I told him that my aunt had died and he hugged me, and I felt emptier in that hug than if he hadn’t hugged me at all.  I didn’t know then that that would be one of our last hugs.

And we sat in the car, and I watched him walk around with the hose, his breath coming out in vapor because it was so cold, thinking he was crazy for not just paying the extra two or three dollars – two or three dollars that we totally had – to get a regular carwash on such a freezing day.  And I was spent.  And I just wanted to go home. And I remember how the sadness I was feeling about my aunt dying completely paled in comparison to the sadness I felt about my marriage’s constant dying, but I wouldn’t have said that to anyone then, because I was ashamed.

I didn’t know then that was our last carwash as a family.  I didn’t know then that was the last fast food run we’d make as a foursome.  I didn’t know then that was the last family death we would walk through together.  I didn’t know a lot of what I know now.

But something in me must’ve known something was coming or shifting, because why else would I remember every detail of a carwash four years later?  Because within months, every single thing would be different.  My marriage would be on its way to being beyond repair and then, within a year, the time of death would be called on it.

So everything changed and something died, and now, new life is springing up.  Slowly.  Painfully at times.  In fits and starts.  But it’s coming.  And now instead of recounting all of our “lasts”, I’m celebrating as many firsts and new things as I possibly can.

EKC photo2Elisabeth Klein Corcoran is the author of Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage and Unraveling: Hanging Onto Faith Through the End of a Christian Marriage, along with several other books. She speaks several times a month to women’s groups, and is a member of Redbud Writers’ Guild. She has been featured on Moody’s In the Market with Janet Parshall, This is the Day with Nancy Turner, and Midday Connection with Anita Lustrea.She lives with her children in Illinois. Visit her online at http://www.elisabethcorcoran.com/difficult-marriage-divorce/ or https://www.facebook.com/ElisabethKleinCorcoran.  She is the moderator of two private Facebook groups: one for women in difficult Christian marriages, and one for Christian women who are separated or divorced. Email her at elisabeth@elisabethcorcoran.com if interested in joining.

If you’d like to support Elisabeth’s work, go here: http://www.patreon.com/elisabethkleincorcoran.

2014.3.3ekc_surviving

Guest Post: Things I Couldn’t Do

EKC photoI am happy to have a guest post today from author/speaker Elisabeth Klein Corcoran.

Elisabeth’s new book, Unraveling: Holding on to Your Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage (Abingdon), was released earlier this month.

Things I Couldn’t Do

Someone recently emailed me to say that she is in a difficult marriage and is in ministry and doesn’t know if she’ll be divorcing but she was encouraged to see on my speaking page that I have a full schedule, so people must not have dropped me like a hot potato just because I was divorced.

She doesn’t know the backstory, which is this.  (But before I say what I’m about to say, I need to first say this: I was treated 95% well by Christians through my divorce, and I will be forever grateful for those who stuck by my side. However…)

When I announced my separation, I was oozing shame.  I was beyond embarrassed.  I was full of guilt.  I would write an email to another round of people telling them the news, hit send, and then go run and hide in another room so I wouldn’t have to see the responses as they came in.  And if I had thought that the hardest part of telling people would be the occasional inappropriate comment, I was mistaken.

I soon realized that some people thought there were certain things that a divorcing woman should no longer do, until further notice.

I lost speaking engagements almost immediately, even one for a Christmas talk, because apparently divorcing women are either not allowed to celebrate the birth of Christ or wouldn’t know how to give a Christmas talk without bashing their soon-to-be-ex-husband while ruminating on the wise men. (“And while we’re on the subject, let me tell you about a man who wasn’t wise…” Really?!)

I couldn’t host teenagers in my home. Which made me doubt my mothering. Because I had two teenagers.  If my home is not fit for other teenagers – just to hang out in – is my home not fit for my own children now that I am divorcing? I cried.

And I needed to steer clear of a couple women in precarious marriages so as not to guide them down the wrong path with my counsel.  (My counsel being things like, keep reading the Bible, and keep working the steps, and stay in counseling, and don’t be disrespectful.  Controversial, marriage-hating stuff like that.)

Not one of these things that I was told I could not do was under the guise of, “We think you need time to heal.”  Had that been the case, I would’ve embraced the kind support and leaned into it and felt taken care of and looked out for.

No.  Instead, these rules implied one thing: people needed to be protected from me because I was sinning (I guess) and my divorce was apparently potentially contagious.

Women in my audiences might learn a quiet time tip only to find out that I was divorcing which would make it completely invalid.

Teenagers might get the impression that my situation was “okay”, something they could replicate in their future. God forbid someone get served with divorce papers in fifteen years; we can’t send the message that they’d make it through.

And those gals in hurting marriages might leave because I was left.

I guess.  I mean, I don’t really know.  Because it was never fully explained to me.  Except that it was clear – it wasn’t about protecting me; it was about protecting everyone else from me, the sinner.

I’m sounding bitter.  I am.  No, I’m not.  I have gotten over these specific things.  But I’m not over the message that was sent to me.  And I’m actually okay now with learning it because what this taught me was that Christians don’t always know what to do with those of us who are hurting, grieving, maybe sinning, maybe bouncing back from the effects of someone else’s sinning against us.  I know this to be true, because I used to be a staunch, rule-keeping women’s ministry director who didn’t have time in her schedule for messes like this or room in her heart for the grace to cover it over.

But now I’ve been through the fire.

I doubt I’ll ever lead a ministry at a church again…but if I do, I know I will handle the hurting ones much differently than I was handled, much differently than I used to handle.  I will ask what they need.  I will ask if they need rest, protection, a covering.  If they do, great.  I will give it as long as they need it.  But if they don’t – if what they need is to keep serving so they can get out of their own heads for ten minutes or to keep plugging away so they can pour out some of the comfort they’re receiving from God – and it truly doesn’t seem like it will hurt anyone, then I would let them.  God, I would let them.  I wouldn’t add to their shame.  Because I know they’re already carrying around a lifetime’s worth and even one more drop could send them over the edge.  Because I know that what she would really need more than anything else is support and love and grace. And that’s what I would give her.

Elisabeth Klein Corcoran is the author of Unraveling: Hanging Onto Faith Through the End of a Christian Marriage, along with several other books, who speaks several times a month to women’s groups, and is a member of Redbud Writers’ Guild. During her time at Christ Community Church’s Blackberry Creek Campus in Aurora, Illinois she began and led their women’s ministry for ten years prior to moving to the city’s Orchard Community Church. She lives with her children in Illinois. Visit her online at http://www.elisabethcorcoran.com/difficult-marriage-divorce/ or https://www.facebook.com/ElisabethKleinCorcoran.  She is the moderator of two private Facebook groups: one for women in difficult Christian marriages, and one for Christian women who are separated or divorced. Email her at elisabethkcorcoran@gmail.com if interested in joining.
Unraveling can be purchased at Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/po3ek2w.

What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Unraveling book cover

Guest Post: Postpartum Depression–How My Church Helped and Yours Can, Too.

Last week, I wrote an article for Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics about postpartum depression (PPD), and how the church can be at the front lines of reversing the stigma of PPD. Prior to forming an opinion and writing the article, I asked several Christian women if they thought “women who are heavily involved in the church would have an easier or harder time addressing their PPD?” One of the responses I received was the loveliest, best articulated take on PPD I’ve ever read. Completely honest, well-written, and, at times, hilarious. My friend has graciously allowed me to share her thoughts here, she asks only that she remain anonymous. So if you think you know the author, please no “outing” by name, or Facebook tagging. That said, we’d love non-tagged “shares,” “tweets,” and comments.  I’m sure you have a friend who needs to read this—please pass it along.

Enjoy!

Postpartum Depression: How My Church Helped and Yours Can, Too.

By Julie C.

Before I address the question “Do you think women who are heavily involved in the church would have an easier or harder time addressing their PPD?,” I want to first address what I feel is the elephant in the room when it comes to postpartum depression:

What is it? What does it mean that I have or don’t have it?

Does it mean:

“I am having a hard time with the transition of being a professional to being at home with a screaming child for 24-hours a day with no family support. I’m really depressed. Is that postpartum depression?”

“Being a mom with a tiny baby isn’t as great as I thought it was going to be, and I have some regrets. Is that postpartum depression?

“I haven’t felt like myself for three years since I had my kids. Is that postpartum depression? Or is that just life?”

If we don’t actually feel like drowning our kids in a bathtub, many women can’t put a name on what they feel after they have children. The ridiculous “baby blues” moniker really doesn’t encompass the reality that women face as their hormones go haywire and their whole world changes overnight. There is a middle ground that isn’t addressed, and it is a failure of our entire community that it isn’t spoken about.

As Christians, we tend to look at our lives differently than those who have chosen a different path, but when we have problems such as PPD, I think our church- and hopefully Christ-focused lives can get off track. We think Christ alone can solve our problems, and when prayer isn’t enough, we feel we’ve failed. We don’t want to look like failures or people of little faith to others, so we suffer in silence. On a related but different topic, I had someone tell me that if I “just prayed more,” my mentally ill mother would be healed. The lesson I took from this was, “your Mom is sick because you aren’t praying for her enough and that is your fault.” This myopic view of faith in God prevents good people from seeking professional help and services because of shame. We feel, as “good” Christian men and women, we should be able to pray our way out of any trouble. ‘Our hope is set on God alone’—and when we aren’t healed, we feel we are being punished, ignored, or aren’t faithful enough. To seek help outside of prayer and the Bible is to go outside of faith and not rely on God’s wisdom.

In terms of women who are suffering with depression and other mental issues after childbirth, this is also relevant.

In Christian culture, motherhood is held up as one of the most important things you can accomplish. If we “fail” this rite of passage—if we don’t embrace it with abandon, bond with our children over board books of Noah while playing kids’ praise music 24/7, and feel that every iota of self has been happily fulfilled in the ultimate expression of womanliness: having children…well, we aren’t very good Christians. We guilt in silence. We apologize. We fake it.

Because of my previous experiences with my mother’s issues, I didn’t have the same qualms as others may about counseling after I had my first child. I just didn’t know if what I was experiencing WAS post-partum depression or just me being a terrible mother. I didn’t have a community of friends that also had children to talk it out with. I lived hundreds of miles away from family, and all of the discussions went like this:

“Mom, my kid has colic 8-10 hours a day, and I am exhausted and depressed”

“Wow honey, none of my children ever had that. Must be from your husband’s side of the family. You were such an angel. So easy.”

So, that was super helpful.

My friends stopped visiting because they didn’t have kids, and they didn’t know what to do about my unfriendly baby crying the entire visit. They were uncomfortable with me trying to explain how everything was different after having kids. I could see the gears in their heads turning as they thought, “it wouldn’t be like this” for them, as they watched me bounce my child and complain that I hadn’t had a shower in three days.

Things got weird with my husband. I cried a lot and didn’t know how to relate to him the same way, since I had no career, was alone all day and felt like I looked like a bloated manatee. When he came home he had to listen to a child scream for hours at a time, and I was already exhausted from a day of colicky crying, but didn’t want to burden my husband with her and take a break because I wanted to be a dutiful wife. We argued a lot, because that is what you do when there is a child crying all the time and you can’t stop it.

When the colic stopped, I thought I would be OK. But I wasn’t. I woke up with my teeth clenched, and had to get fitted for a mouth guard at night. I started getting chest pains. I felt keyed up and tense all the time, and I was never a tense person before children. I went off the birth control I was on in the hopes that it was the cause of my problems, and it helped some, but I was still tense and still not right. I couldn’t ever turn off the “mommy on the alert” button once it was turned on.

I had a second kid. No colic, but the same thing after I had her. She was 3 ½ before I felt like myself again, but still the anxiety and tense feeling never went away. She is 5, and I still struggle. I feel that something went haywire in my brain chemistry after I had children, and I will never be right again. Is that a form of PPD? Is it mental illness? What kind of label will doctors put on it, and what kinds of pharmaceuticals are they going to try to sell me for this new label?

Even now, I talk with women (sometimes even vaguely) about some of my struggles since I had my kids, and I feel them suddenly get very tight lipped about it. I feel they are thinking, “yep, she was one of the ones who wanted to drown her kids in the bathtub. So great I didn’t ever have any problems like THAT.” But I didn’t ever feel that way (not even for one second), and I want to educate people that it isn’t a black-and-white problem, and it doesn’t have to be shameful and behind the scenes. We all struggle to some degree, and some more so than others. But because we struggle doesn’t mean we’re nuts. We are good mothers, and we love our kids.

And then there are the Christian questions we all ask ourselves on top of the secular ones:

“Have I not prayed enough to be released from this burden?”

“What is God trying to teach me with this burden? If I learn it, can I be released from it? Why haven’t I learned it yet?”

“Am I being punished for something?”

“Does God even care for me if he can let this happen?”

I went to a Christian counselor to try to work on some of these questions and to try and figure out how to work through my anxiety and depression without drugs. I learned that I actually was pretty stable mentally, and that whatever was going on was probably chemical. I went to a great acupuncturist, and got some fantastic results.

(Note: using drugs for treatment of PPD may be a good choice for some women. I personally choose not to because my mother has prescription substance abuse problems, and I just can’t go there, unless it is a last-resort measure.)

But really, the best form of healing I received was my mom’s group at church, Mothers’ Council. We read books that have a Godly focus on motherhood and discuss them, but really, that wasn’t what helped. It was relationships. It was hearing from others—good Christian woman—that they too were having issues: with babies, with toddlers, with their husbands. My table group brought all those things from the shadows into the light and took away the shame and taboo of not being perfect. My table group reminded me that, like Peter and David, we all fail (and sometimes fabulously), but we can still have a whole heart for God that yearns to seek his face. We can go and seek our solutions and answers to our issues, with God and without stigma.

Christian women can be extremely hurtful in their vanity and pride and judgment, but in this case, these Christian women were being like Jesus—kind, welcoming, and truthful.

For women who may be suffering with PPD or any form of imbalance in between, some of the best medicine can be community—real community that embraces the people who are hurting and lifts up those to authority who have been through it and gained wisdom. Real community recognizes a woman struggling and finds a way to help. Real community brings meals to a new mom to check in, and actually talks with her. Real community talks about real challenges a new mom faces in our culture today with parenting and spouses. Real community knows that Christ is the center and the power in our lives, but knows that being a Christian doesn’t guarantee a worry-free existence. Real community takes the messed up ideas of our relationship with God, drags them out into the light, and sets them right.

With postpartum depression, isolation is the enemy. Real community is the way out, and we as Christians are commanded to “gather together” and to “encourage each other.” (Hebrews 10:24-25). What a perfect environment for healing for the broken, for the tired, for the depressed—and for those suffering with postpartum depression.

How has your faith helped–or hurt–your struggle after childbirth? With PPD? We’d love to hear your thoughts!