There and Back Again – My Journey at MOPS Convention – Part 1

If you know me, you know I’m the Coordinator of my local MOPS group – MOPS @ Crossroads Community Church – here in Summerville, SC. I.LOVE.MOPS. I can’t say it enough, so let me repeat: I.LOVE.MOPS. And I especially love MOPS International Convention.

I have a story I want to share here. I need to share here. God has told me to share here. And it’s not especially pretty in parts. And in other parts, well, it’s absolutely Divine (really, I mean Divine).

But to get to what I want to say, I think I need to start at the beginning. Hence, the “There and Back Again” reference (on an ADD note, I love Tolkien, and I’m super excited about The Hobbit which is currently in production). Anyway, back to the beginning.

My journey through miscarriage is fully documented in the pages of this blog. And while I honestly felt healed, I think deep inside there must have been a small part of me that hadn’t gotten an entire handle on my issues regarding prayer. It’s so hard to explain, but seriously, I don’t think many churches teach properly about prayer. Or maybe I’m just dense and totally didn’t understand the subject or what not. But too often, I can recall preachers and evangelists and teachers from my developing years almost making it sound like God answers prayers if you have enough faith, God answers prayers if you are a good Christian, blah, blah. And in my fundamental upbringing, often time, not having the answer your heart desired was akin to some hidden sin or something that kept God from blessing you.

So, back in April of 2007, when for days I begged God to save my baby but instead I miscarried, my faith and my prayer life were rocked. Mary Beth Chapman, at MOPS Convention this year, worded it best when talking about the death of her 5 year old daughter. She said she “faceplanted” on her faith. And that analogy probably fit me best. I struggled for a long time after with faith in my prayers. I struggled with what exactly is prayer. And after a time, God healed my heart, increased my faith, and I moved on. But the prayer issue continued to nag at me. So, for four years, I have struggled with prayer.

But I didn’t really know how to tell anyone that. I’ve been a Christian since I was 4 years old. I took on the leadership of MOPS @ Crossroads. I felt I was looked to for some sort of spiritual leadership that at times I just didn’t feel I had, but through my pride, I didn’t want to let anyone down by admitting, “Hey, I need help with prayer.”

Over time, I did pray again. With my kids, with ladies at church, through my second miscarriage, etc. But deep inside I never felt comfortable with prayer. And for much of the past year, I haven’t prayed like I should. And what happens when you don’t pray? What happens when you don’t fellowship with your Father? The relationship becomes strained. And for much of this past year, and especially this summer, I just haven’t been feeling it spiritually. I felt like I had lost my spiritual mojo. I wanted to ask for help, ask for accountability partners, but I couldn’t admit it.

And this past summer has been so rough. I struggled with so many things. Parenting became difficult. As the temperatures climbed and the heat spiked, so did my temper. I was just an angry person pretty much all summer, maybe even looking back since not too soon after the new year. I lost my temper easily, I snapped at my kids, and sadly, yes, I yelled… a lot. Emphasis on a lot. I was a mean mommy. And I hated it. And I hid it.

I think I started to realize I was on a downward spiral though for some time and I didn’t know how to climb up out of the pit. I went to lunch with a dear friend I made through MOPS (though we are more than just MOPS friends now) in May. She admitted during our 4 hour lunch (Yippee for mommy breaks!) that she was having some issues with anger, and for the first time, I confided in someone that I too was far from the perfect mother. And you know what… it felt good to talk to someone. I knew with her that I could be transparent and real and that she would love me anyway.

As summers go, she got busy and I was busy and so we didn’t get much chance to follow-up with each other and I just continued being mean mommy. Yet, no matter what, my kids still loved me, and hugged me, and showered me with affection, and I felt so undeserving of this unconditional love.

Then, shortly after that, Julie Barnhill, who spoke at MOPS Convention in 2010, announced on her Facebook page that she was going to do a pilot online book study of one of her first books she published long ago called, She’s Gonna Blow: Real Help for Moms Dealing with Anger. Well, I loved her when I heard her speak, so I signed up. I read the book and it made me face some hard truths about myself.

Meanwhile, as the summer ticked on, I watched my countdown clock to tell me how long it would be until MOPS Convention in Nashville. All Summer long, all I could do was countdown the days until Convention (as us MOPS ladies call it) and hope that I would find some solace, some healing, some motivation to get back to where I needed to be.

Little did I know what exactly God had in store for me during a road trip with 8 other women to Nashville for Convention.

To be continued

For Readers Edification: Published from My Little Corner of the Internet: http://mandilivingston.blogspot.com/. Unless otherwise notated, all written content is the intellectual property of Mandi Livingston.

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