From time to time on Tuesday Mornings, we like to have our women share their stories. This week we were blessed to have Sheila Clayton share with us how God has helped her overcome some tragedies and battles in her life. I know you will be encouraged by what she had to say.
Fear is defined as an unpleasant, often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger or anxious concern.
I was born and raised right here in Lincoln and graduated from Lincoln Christian School. I attended college for 5 years, graduating from Bethel College in South Bend, Indiana, with a Business Degree. I worked as a DOD employee at AAFES for 3 years, being stationed in Oklahoma and Virginia. I moved back in 2003 and have been back ever since.
I met my husband Brady in 2009 at a Halloween party. He was a pirate. I was a cowgirl. I had no interest in him, but God had other plans. We were friends for a long time and started dating in 2010. We were engaged in 2011 and married in February 2012. We have two beautiful children, Ella who will be 4 this month, and Miles who is 2 today! I am a stay-at-home Mom and just recently started my own Pampered Chef business.
When I lived in Virginia, I met a woman named Kristen. Her husband was in the military, and they lived two floors above me in the same apartment complex. Looking back, I know we were brought together to be friends. We seemed to hit it off from day one, and I was privileged to be her friend for almost 10 years. Kristen and I went through a lot together including the birth of her son, her fight and victory over cancer, struggles in her marriage, as well as my life as a single woman. She was my go-to, especially since my family lived so far away and, with working retail, I very rarely got to come back home. She moved to Georgia and eventually Germany where I was blessed to visit a few times while they were there.
Her family ended up in Colorado, where our friendship still bloomed. You see, even though we had our distance, we still found some way to talk on the phone almost everyday. We had the kind of friendship that at the end of every conversation, we always told each other, I love you. One February afternoon in 2011, driving home from work, I made my usual daily call and her husband answered. All he said was, she’s gone. I remember thinking, gone where? Kristen had passed away from a brain aneurysm while she was at work. She was 37 years old. I had never lost anyone so suddenly, and boy, did it rock my world.
I remember being numb, in shock and in disbelief. I had just talked to her two days prior and the last thing we said was that we loved each other. I will never regret that. How could this even happen? She had beat cancer, was healthy, she loved to teach dance and loved her caramel macchiatos. But just like that, she was gone. Gone were my daily phone calls where I could vent, cry, tell her all my guy drama and just be there for each other. I remember after she was gone thinking, now what do I do, other than put one foot in front of the other? Some days, that was even hard.
I have always believed in God and accepted Him into my life when I was young. I felt strong in my faith for the most part, but once I lost her, I felt lost. Where was God in all this? I finally had a girlfriend who was like a sister, and now she was just gone. I believe that is when fear started to set in. I seemed to always be a worrier, but once this happened, the what-if game began. Fear and worry soared to a new level. I remember after she was gone how my friends and family surrounded me, took care of me and did what they could do to help me grieve.
As those of you know that have lost someone you are close to, whether instantly or over time, grief looks different for everyone. Unless you have been through losing someone instantly, it is hard to understand what that person is going through. So after some discussion with Brady, we felt it was best that I seek some help. So I called the church office and was seen by Gary Jones to evaluate where I would receive the best help. They decided to have me meet with a spiritual caregiver named Chris. You see, Chris lost her husband when he went out to farm one day and a tractor rolled on him and killed him instantly. While her story is definitely tragic, I know that God used her to help me through a time I never thought I would get through. She knew how to listen, how to counsel and how to hold my hand and just let me cry as I worked through Kristen’s death. You guys, this church has amazing ministries, and they want to help women like us get through our hard times. Don’t be afraid to reach out for that help. They are here and want to help you!
As I mentioned, Brady and I got married in 2012 and in 2013 our daughter Ella was born. For those who are either going through the baby phase, or remember the itty bitty baby phase, it is tough. I realized about 3 months in that something wasn’t right with me. I loved Ella, but this whole keeping a little person alive–trying to figure out nursing, not sleeping, hormones, keeping up a house, etc.–was TOUGH. There were days of fears and tears and just being overwhelmed. I think, deep down, I knew I had postpartum depression but didn’t want to admit it–not to my husband, my family and especially not to myself. I didn’t want to have the stereotype of having to be on depression meds. I was AFRAID they would take my daughter away and that my husband would think I was a terrible mother.
Ladies, those are LIES! When I finally broke down and admitted it to the doctor, she got me on some low-dose meds to help balance me out. The doctor was glad to help and PPD is something that more mom’s suffer from than you think. It is nothing to be ashamed of and something that doctors can help with. My husband was amazing and so supportive as I worked through these fears. Fears surround us everyday as mom’s but when you have wacky hormones and a new baby, that just magnifies it. Looking back I am so thankful that I got help. When our son Miles came along, I knew what to look for. So when I did see the signs again, I knew to get help right away.
Brady, as well as my mom and sister, helped keep me accountable through it as well. I also found that eating right, getting exercise and having other mom’s (through MUMS) around, prayer and worship, helped me get through these dark times. While I thought I was doing okay, last year at MUMS, Dr. Chelsea Davis spoke about self care and how important it is as a mom and wife and just a woman in general to take care of yourself. I knew that I wasn’t doing what I should do to take care of myself. The Lord really laid it on my heart that I needed to see Dr. Davis to work through some of these issues I thought I had gotten through. She is an amazing Christian counselor who helped me continue to work through my struggles.
While I still have days where I miss Kristen terribly, I look back and see God in all of it, even when I felt He was silent. I still have days where I’m fearful—-am I good Mother? A good wife? Am I doing enough? Am I enough?
SO. MANY. FEARS.
It is during those times that I have to push those fears aside and go back to the truth of God’s Word. I also have to remember that God loves me. Yes, me. Despite my fears, despite my what-if’s, He is never disappointed in me.
Joshua 1:9 reminds us, “This is my command–be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Even in the dark and scary times, He is always there! Looking back, I know He was always there even when I didn’t see Him. Fear is a choice. And so is faith. I pray that as you walk through your dark days, that you cling to your faith and know that God has been and will always be with you.