Jacey Rogel shares about asking God for relief from difficult circumstances and depression. Now you can find the Kindred Mom book, Strong, Brave, and Beautiful: Stories of Hope for Moms in the Weeds, wherever books are sold. Subscribe to the Kindred Mom newsletter and receive a preview of the book today! Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
My family moved into my dream apartment five years ago; I was grateful for the circumstances that allowed us to move in, for the close proximity to family and friends, and the chance to immerse ourselves in the community I longed to live in.
Nestled between houses, the brand new apartment community beckoned me as I drove back to college. Parks where movies play every Friday night during the summer, a corner store, a recreation center, and a yoga studio. I was enamored by the old world charm, the yellow, maroon, and dark blue houses with white trim and big porches, the matching apartments. I’m going to live there someday.
It was bliss. At first.
I walked into the living room to play with my then 18-month-old son. I glanced down at the floor and thought my eyes were betraying me. Upon closer look, I saw it. Them. Large black and brown spiders crawling on the beige carpet, hiding in plain sight. My eyes moved to see them crawling up the walls. Tears pricked my eyes, my heart beat wildly. I whisked my son away and called for my husband. He killed the predators and assured me everything would be okay.
It wasn’t. For over a month, we lived with these eight-legged creatures. They set up home in our shower, crawled out of our bedroom vents, and were found dead in our son’s toy box. Every night, I rubbed my hand along our beds, shaking out pillows and blankets. Every morning, I checked our clothes and shoes, the shower, and any other surface they could be lurking. I could never fully relax; I didn’t want to be caught off guard.
I was thrust into surprise immersion therapy. Spiders have always been my greatest phobia; living amongst them only made my fear worse.
We found at least five a day in every crevice of our small apartment, not including the dozens found dead in traps or the ones who escaped our careful eyes. I needed to calm myself, so I researched to ensure they weren’t poisonous; I never made it past the first few websites. My camera roll became a dumping ground of proof for the apartment staff, pictures of my son interspersed with my worst nightmare.
I prayed constantly for them to disappear, thinking that would be easier than easing my fear. I was new to my faith and didn’t know what I was doing. It seemed easier to pray for signs than anything else. I needed proof He was real, that He would break through and save me.
Our life on the outside was everything I hoped it would be: movie nights at the park, my son on his Radio Flyer tricycle, my husband pushing him while I followed behind, trips to the corner store for ice cream, the patch of concrete outside our apartment where we played catch every morning.
We didn’t spend much time inside our apartment. We would pack up and go to my parent’s house and spend the rest of the day there until my husband came home; he would kill spiders while I hid my face in my son’s curly hair. The very sight of them sent a visceral reaction through my entire body; I couldn’t control it.
My kitchen table became my war-room. Notebooks and Bibles and Christian non-fiction covered the surface and made me believe my prayers would be heard. I hoped those women could teach me how to believe, that their faith would rub off on me. I didn’t know what else to do.
The exterminators weren’t having any luck ridding our apartment, the only apartment with this infestation. My eyes were constantly down, looking for big brown spots near the floorboard. I needed to move my eyes upwards, to believe God would show up and fix this, or at least ease my phobia so we could live in peace. I knew I couldn’t come through this on my own.
Weeks felt like years. The stress was too much and I was tired of waiting for God to move.
We broke our lease.
“What is this?” I ask my six-year-old son. I pull out a piece of paper from his homework folder and he reads me a note he wrote asking for a baby brother.
“Please, can I have a baby brother?” He begs. “Please?”
“No,” I say with a slight laugh. “I’m sorry, buddy.” I hold his head in my hands, he leans into my stomach, soft after three children. He’s been asking for a baby brother ever since his second sister was born a year ago. I always give him the same answer: “It isn’t that easy.”
“Can’t you ask God?” he says, desperation in his little-boy voice. “I really want a baby brother. Please? Please ask God?”
“I can’t ask God, babe,” I tell him. “We aren’t having any more babies.” End of discussion.
I want to tell my son all of the reasons why his dream of having a baby brother to play sports and share a room with will never happen. It is a heavier burden than a six-year-old should have to carry, and I don’t want to dump my mental health concerns onto his young mind. I want him to know he is not the only one who feels like a dream has been ripped away. I do too.
Even if a baby brother isn’t possible, he needs to believe God will provide friends and teammates to fill the void. I ache for him to believe God will show up for him, even if I don’t fully believe it for myself.
There was a time my husband and I planned for four or five children, to mirror the families we grew up in. After the birth of our third baby, I made the executive decision to be done. I couldn’t go through another bout of depression as I did after each of my daughters were born; it had already stolen four years of my life.
During the worst of my depression, after my second child was born, I talked to God constantly, begging Him to heal me. My relationships, my marriage, my desire to be a mother slipped through my fingers like sand. I was sinking and needed something or Someone to pull me out of the dark abyss. But I was alone.
We settled into our brand-new house two years after the spider-infested apartment. On the way to the bathroom, I stop and stare at something brown on the half-wall that comes down above the stairs. My husband catches me in full panic mode, a shoe in hand.
“You have to find it. Make sure it’s dead.” I swallow a lump.
He laughs. “After living in that apartment, you shouldn’t be scared anymore.”
But I am.
Motherhood feels the same way. Even though I have three children, I shouldn’t be afraid of adding one more.
But I am.
After the spider apartment, I stopped reading my Bible. I found it easier to read about other people’s faith, to see the goodness God provided in their lives than to believe He would do the same for me. Reading other women’s journeys was a comfort, but one I held at arm’s length; I wanted to believe God was good. There are moments I still doubt it and I know my little faith isn’t enough to get me through another pregnancy or postpartum period. It isn’t enough for me to believe the dreams I discarded years ago will ever come to fruition.
I believe the depression, though slowly loosening its grip on me, will always be lurking where I can’t see it–hiding in plain sight. Every night I wonder if I will wake up in the morning normal. I want to believe it’s safe to keep my eyes up, but they are trained to look down, to stay open, waiting for the nightmare to begin again.
Jacey is a wife to her husband of eight years and a new homeschooling mama of three. She finds solace in words and between the pages of a good book. Her writing has been featured on Literary Mama and Coffee + Crumbs, among others. You can find her on Instagram or her blog, JaceyWrites.com.