I have been thinking, praying, mulling over, stressing over, and distracting myself from putting this blog post up for a while now. Something changes when you not only admit the problems you are facing, but when you invite others to peer into your heart and see them too… there is always the chance that it will come back to haunt you later…I have discovered the haunting part the hard way several times in the last year.
Yet, here I am, writing and sharing again anyway because I firmly believe that it is important for my story, although intensely personal, to never be private.
I do ask one thing from you however, this will be a long post, please read all of it or stop reading now. Half of the story or skimming simply will not work this time…
I have always viewed myself as capable.
But, not long ago, I realized that I am broken.
Not a cute or blasé broken, but a deep down all the way to center of who I am. I am a broken person.
Kind of a funny revelation as I think back through my life, and while really I have known my brokenness all along, this time it is distinctly different. It is not as though I have lived a sheltered life, a glamorous life, or even one void of pain and heartache. However, the current result of brokenness aches in places that have never hurt before… It is a solid soaking through brokenness. But, I think it is also important to point out that I purposefully did not say the “end result” is brokenness, because this is far from the end; I am certain of that fact.
Yet, broken is certainly where I sit tonight.
The problem is that I am capable.
For as long as I can remember, being capable is the largest perspective I have of myself apart from my identity in Christ.
Christ is definitely first, and through my relationship with him I view myself and the world. The problem is when I pull away, and stop focusing on Christ, capable is my automatic fallback to place. Capable is my “old man” struggle when I am not focused on pushing into Jesus, and while it definitely causes me to teeter close to pride often, the difference is rooted in my ability thus far to handle whatever comes my way.
I have always been able to handle the good and bad of life. While I definitely cannot claim to have experienced things even close to “the worst” like so many friends have, I can point to my fair share of awful things. Most of my life I have been strong because I know who I am, but also because I must be strong. Sometimes I get through simply by grit my teeth and forcing my way through whatever I am facing. But, as an adult single woman, if I am not strong and capable, who will be for me? Thankfully I can say that I am secure because of God’s Truth, regardless of what I am facing, I just often struggle with the plan (or really the lack of knowing the plan). I would also be remiss if I did not also admit that I am able to press forward and through often because of the support and love of those around me. It is also helpful that while stress affects me a great deal in certain aspect, it has never been an immobilizer…So, I am capable even in stress.
However, a little over a week ago, my stress level collided full force into an immovable object, which shattered the last remaining fragile belief I had in my capability to get through this season and these struggles.
Suddenly, it felt like this was never going to end, I had no way out, and I am trapped here until it all overtakes me.
Over and over recently, I have faced problems and issues that were not my doing, but am forced to deal with anyway. Some of the problems come down to bad luck, others a clash of world views, or still other instances are simply life just dealing out some craptasticness. Yet, regardless each of them must be worked through…
The problem is that so far, to date, I have been able to sidestep most of them, oftentimes thanks to someone coming to my rescue and helping me, other times it has been things just working out exactly perfectly in the nick of time, or just flat-out gritting my teeth and doing whatever I need to in order to deal and move on.
But, this time there is no easy fix, but worse than that, there is no end in sight. There is no hope that if I hold out long enough this will soon be over… This really could go on forever (not logically of course, but from what I can see, it has no reason to end either..).
So, I found myself sitting there flipping through options in my head, and not seeing any possible way to get through the problems before the allotted time I have. I felt my chest tighten, my throat close, my jaw clench, and my eyes begin to burn with the need to cry… only, I was in a place where crying was not really an option… So, I did what I typically do, I took a few deep breaths, swallowed, and forced myself to control my emotions enough to prevent crying. I would deal with the flood later.
However, the reality is that this time, the problem could not go away, nor be forgotten about, so the tightness in my throat did not go away either. In fact, that constricting feeling you get in your throat from swallowing the desire to cry stayed for days… No one could see or feel it, but, it was a constant little personal reminder with no evidence outwardly of my constricted throat. I could talk, eat, laugh, and even sing totally normally, but inwardly nothing I did would get rid of the feeling or emotions.
So, one night I laid in bed and began strategizing and trying to think of ways to get out of my situation. I mean, surely there is something that I can do to fix this mess in my life despite the fact that I did not cause this one.. or the last few. But, as I thought through everything, the more I realized, I have no way to save myself… and on top of that, the real crushing blow was realizing that this had broken me; it shattered the last little bit of belief I have in my capability to handle whatever came my way.
As I laid there, all I felt was fear and failure.
A typical mental exercise I go through to calm myself down is to think back through each situation or thing systematically because it forces me to focus outside of my emotions. So, this time, I started with the most recent problem and worked my way backwards through each difficult thing that has happened over the last couple of years. With each situation, I realized that things have been piling up consistently for a very long time, and as hard as I have tried, worked, smiled, prayed or laid in silence trying to listen to God, nothing was going to force things to change or get better.
And, things would certainly not happen the way I had constructed in my head as the amazing way God was going to save me. He is going to do this His way, His timing, and.. despite what I know to be true, from my vantage point it seems as painfully as possible in the process.
How is it possible that someone as stubborn as I am, as dedicated, hard-working, experienced, educated, and willing to go wherever I need to is incapable of fixing my situation? I am supposed to be capable.
Yet, here I sit, totally, completely, and utterly incapable and broken.
So, in that moment I replaced capable with devastated. Devastation is how I feel.
I was created to be capable. How is this helpful for God to take everything away from me?.. (And, if you cite Job to me, I may throat punch you.)
If one of the key ways I view myself has been forced out of me, slowly over a long period of time, no amount of nice or words or kind things said from others trying to encourage and lift me up can help the shards of brokenness that surrounds me. No attempt at distraction can remove the looming realization that I am not capable and in actuality, I am totally broken and helpless.
I mean, I can function, I have no option. But, aside from the days upon days of constricted throat to remind me, I am surrounded by deadlines, bills, work, problems, much of which I do not share with others… And the looming thought:
If I am not capable, then who and what am I?
Where do I go from here? How do I begin to pick up the pieces when my circumstances have not really changed? I know that it is ok for me to not be ok… but I also know that it is not ok for me to stay this way. I simply cannot stay here in my brokenness, but I am not sure how to move forward knowing that I am incapable of fixing this immovable object before me.
What an interesting place for me to land. After all this time, and all these years to be whittled down to wondering who I am without the key way in which I view myself.
The only thing I know for sure is, despite how I feel, and regardless of what is right in front of me,
“I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me and heard my cry.
He brought me up out of the pit of destruction,
out of the miry clay,
and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
Many will see and fear And will trust in the Lord…
You, O Lord, will not withhold Your compassion from me;
Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me.
For evils beyond number have surrounded me;
My iniquities have overtaken me,
so that I am not able to see;
They are more numerous than the hairs of my head,
And my heart has failed me.
Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me;
Make haste, O Lord, to help me.“
– Psalm 40:1-3, 11-13
Tonight, I do not see the dawn, I cannot see the blessings, I struggle to remember the harvest, and I work very hard to prevent bitterness from taking hold. But, no matter how my heart feels or my emotions sway, my head knows that I will not and cannot be left here forever.
Despite the fact that the pain makes it hard to focus on much else, I can recognize and be thankful for the compassion that is being born in me. The reshaping who I am at the very center. I realize how much I am learning to accept love and help.. and even ask for help upon occasion. I am blown away by the love and support of those who around me, and they way others have stepped in to fill the gap. When all is said and done, and on the other side, I will be amazed at the way my faith was grown.. even in my unbelief. I will marvel at the this journey and proudly carry these scars I have gained…
But, tonight is not the other side, and I realize that I must go through the pain in order to get there.
This post was written, edited, re-written, re-edited, left for a day, and now I have finally decided to share it with you. Please know that this post is one snapshot into my heart, I am not in fact full of despair, this is all just a part of my life that I must work through and figure out how to blend capable with broken in the hands of my Savior.
Also, this post is not one shared because I am in need of nice words of encouragement, I would much rather your prayers.