You know how sometimes you just break?
You’re sitting there in life, minding your own business, and then out of nowhere everything is suddenly crashing down all around you. It’s crazy!
If you had asked me thirty minutes ago how I was, I would have said, “I’m okay.” I’m not great right now if I’m being honest; I have a ton of stuff going on, but I’m still okay. Nothing is wrong. I am not overwhelmed. I am simply okay and content where I am.
Or at least I was…
Literally not even ten minutes ago I broke…
Today hasn’t been an overly stressful day or anything, it’s just that so many different things have been brought up throughout the day that the combination of thinking of all of it at the same time overwhelmed me to the point of a breakdown. Yes. A sobbing, uncontrollable breakdown. Complete will mascara streams and snot bubbles.
Why the heck did I decide to go from “okay” to “broken”? Well, my friend, it wasn’t my decision. It just happened.
Throughout the day, many things have been brought to my immediate attention. Not in a way that lends itself to expressing a thought or idea and then dismissing it and moving on. It’s one of those things where as soon as you say it, you realize how real that thing is and you start to think on it even more. Here are some of the things that have been brought to my immediate attention just within the past 14 hours:
- My fiancé still lives four hours away and we still have a 5 week break between our trips in March.
- My wedding is only 94 days away. (So far, right? Wrong! IT’S SO CLOSE!! AAAAHHHHH!!!!)
- I still have a lot to pay for in different areas for my wedding (and I’m trusting the Lord to work all of that out for me, because otherwise I don’t got this…)
- I graduate in 72 days. (Hallelujah!)
- I still have a lot of stuff to do just to be ready to graduate (such as paperwork, a potential teaching certificate, documentation in order, reviews and surveys completed, and so many other things my mind just doesn’t even want to consider right now).
- I still don’t have a job…. (some of you may think, “That’s completely normal, you won’t graduate until May and everything will change by then. There’s plenty of time.” ………… May I just say to you, that I completely agreed with you until 15 minutes ago…. And now all of a sudden I’m freaking out over something that is still months away… Lord, help me!)
- Because I’m getting married, that also means that I am moving. Four hours away.
- There are no openings for jobs in the area I am looking. As in none. Not a single pediatric setting. At all….
- That means that everywhere I am applying to is foreign to me since I don’t have any connections in that area. (I know people do this all the time, but this is new to me)
- This also means that my fiancé and I are looking at apartments/homes. (if that isn’t enough to stress someone out to the max on it’s own, I don’t know what is)
And do you know what just tops it all off? Finances. It’s always the finances! If I don’t have a job secured before I graduate and get married, then we won’t have any way of knowing where we need to live or how much we can/need to spend on a home. If I don’t have a job, what in the world am I going to do with my days? If we don’t have my income, how are we going to pay all of the bills? I mean, I have a full-time job right now and all, but that is going to end the week before my wedding because I am moving four hours away and I won’t be able to make that kind of commute every day….
All of these things, and many others as well, have been brought to the forefront today. Yes, they have been living in the back of my mind for a long time now and it’s not like any of this stuff is new, but it was like it all decided to jump me at the exact same time and I just couldn’t handle it! So I broke.
Thirty minutes ago, all of these things were still there. Nothing about my circumstances changed. What changed was my perspective of them.
You see, thirty minutes ago the Lord was holding everything in His Almighty, Omnipotent, Omniscient, Capable, Sovereign Hands and I was contentedly trusting Him to handle each of my issues. Ten minutes ago, I decided to try to hold all of that in my minuscule, incapable, weak hands. My perspective changed from “I have a lot that needs to happen and I have too much for me to worry about, so I am going to continually give it to the Lord and allow Him to direct my steps and lead me where I need to be, when I need to be there” to “Holy crap I can’t do all of this stuff! There’s no time! I don’t make enough money! I’ll never get a job! How in the world am I going to do all of this stuff with life still happening all around me?”
Like I said, nothing about my circumstances changed. What changed was my perspective.
That shift in how I perceived my circumstances took me from being peacefully content and relying on the Lord to take care of each of those things, to me worrying about stuff I could never change or impact at all by letting it overwhelm me.
My sanity and peace were gone for 10 whole minutes. My worry shot through the roof and my anxiety skyrocketed. My peace disappeared and my assurance melted away in an instant. My contentedness flew out the window and waved goodbye as my faith alone sat rooted to the foundation of my being.
That’s when I found it.
In the middle of the chaos and turmoil within my spirit, I cried out to the Lord for help. “I believe! Help me with my unbelief! Please! Help me! Help me with my unbelief! Help me believe again! Give me a home. Give me a job. Please! Help my unbelief.”
In the middle of that storm of emotions that shook my very being, faith remained rooted to the firm foundation of God’s Spirit within me and the Lord used that faith to draw me back to Him. Even with everything raging out of control, that prayer was heard: “Help me with my unbelief.” Because even in that turmoil, I believed. Even though I couldn’t quite find that peace that surpassed all understanding, I knew it would be there on the other side. Even in the midst of every anxious thought and fearful dread, I had that faith. I knew that the Lord was still there and all I had to do was surrender the insanity to the Lord and He would turn it into a journey with Him that would teach me wisdom, build my character, help me persevere/endure, and strengthen my faith.
I let my shield of faith fall for a moment, but the Lord helped me tighten my armor and pull my shield back up. He helped me surrender my cares and worries and dreams and desires into His hands so that He can orchestrate them in a way that glorifies Him and grows me. He took my scattered, broken pieces and put me back together again in a matter of minutes.
If you asked me thirty minutes ago how I was, I would have said “I’m okay.”
If you would have asked me ten minutes ago how I was, I would have said, “I’m broken.”
If you were to ask me now how I am, I would say, “I am blessed and content.” Still broken. But blessed and content just the same.
So tell me, friend, how are you?
Something happened to me the other day as I was washing my hands.
I looked up into the mirror and I realized something. The face I saw staring back at me was no longer a child.
Who I beheld in the mirror was a wise, discerning woman. Gone were the soft edges of childhood and the wild eyes of adolescence.
The eyes that stared back at me held knowledge and wisdom gained by a short lifetime of experiences. The angles of the face were crafted by countless struggles and unending perseverance. The expression on the woman’s face was one that conveyed strength, joy, and a determination to overcome the mountains placed before her.
As I regarded the woman in the mirror, she began to smile as I did. The laugh lines etched deep into her young skin told stories of laughter through the pain, and joy in the midst of sorrow. Our smile grew as the realization dawned on me: I am that woman.
I am strong. I am wise. I am joyous and determined. I have overcome trials and persevered through hardships. I have grown immensely and lived boldly. I have made it my mission to love God’s people and prayerfully follow His leading in my life. I have failed and I have been victorious. But above all, I have lived and I have loved and I have learned from it all.
I smiled at the woman in the mirror one last time as I dried my hands, curiously wondering who I would see there in the coming years and expectantly awaiting the experiences and growth that would further shape who that woman becomes.
Who I become.
It is a beautiful spring evening. The sun is slowly setting along the horizon, located on your right. A small river runs soundlessly on your left, hidden by some trees with faces carved in them. The sky is still a brilliant blue and the clouds are starting to shift from white and gray to warmer shades of pink and orange with the coming sunset. There is the sound of children’s laughter from the nearby playground. A very slight breeze sets the leaves of the surrounding trees into just enough motion to draw your eye.
You are sitting on a playground swing. The black stretch of seating beneath you feels smaller than you remember, but it still holds your weight. The chains in your hands are dark and weathered and in your mind you hear your mother’s voice saying, “be careful not to pinch your fingers in the chains!” You take a deep breath of evening air and push off, setting yourself into motion. The air whisks past you as you begin to pump your legs. The wind in your face is familiar and a smile begins to form as you slowly push yourself higher and higher.
Your hair shrouds your face and then is driven back as you swing back and forth. Joy bubbles up within you and you realize that your smile has broken into laughter, music to your ears. You remember a time when you never thought you could reach this height and relish the rush of wind in your ears. Your legs ache from the too small seat beneath you being pulled tighter in by the chains at your sides, but it is not enough to drown out the feeling of absolute exhilaration.
You cease striving to swing higher, and instead rest in the movement until it becomes a gentle sway to and fro. The pounding of your heart and rapid breathing slow as the swing does, until everything is once more at peace.
This is where my joy is found.
This is where I find Jesus. This is where I talk to the Lord and praise Him through my laughter. This is where I listen to His voice in the rushing wind and the peace that follows. This is where the chaos of the world around me turns into the rushing of the wind in my hair. This is where the anxieties and stresses of my life are released and I find peace in the movement and in the stillness. This is where I am free and the only chains that hold me are the ones I cling to, keeping me in my seat.
This is where my joy is found.
Where is yours?