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?
Remember that post I just did on surrender? If you don’t, you can read it here. Basically, it was about me struggle bussing to surrender my plans and desires and life to the Lord even though I know that He is definitely the one who should be directing my life. Not me.
Well, yesterday the Lord blew me away.
Not only did He heal my shoulder miraculously, he also provided something I have been praying a very long time for.
Let’s start with the shoulder.
I have had pain in my right arm/shoulder for eleven weeks now. Yes. Eleven. That’s almost three months. I can’t tell you what in the world happened to injure it, especially to injure it for a full eleven weeks and counting; I just woke up one morning with sharp pain in my neck (which is nothing new to me considering that neck pain is a chronic, daily reminder of my life with VEDS) as well as my shoulder, which was very new. The strangest part was the decreased range of motion in my right arm/shoulder. I couldn’t lift my arm to the side past a 45 degree angle and I really couldn’t shrug my right shoulder either.
This pain and reduced range of motion, as well as some surging/traveling pain down the entirety of my right arm, have been consistent for eleven weeks now. The surging comes and goes, but the limitation of movement and pain has been a consistent companion. Many people had mentioned that it sounded like a rotator cuff injury, so after putting it off for so long, I made an appointment with my doctor. He did some x-rays and decided that he thinks it is a problem with the vertebrae in my neck, not my shoulder. So, an MRI of my neck was ordered and I am still waiting for them to contact me to schedule it.
That night, I went to the Monday night prayer meeting at my church, like I always do. I told the ladies about the persistent pain and what the doctor had said. This isn’t the first time that I’ve brought physical pain to prayer. In fact, I bring that with me almost every week. Those ladies are always faithful to pray for whatever new pain exists or the lingering pains that cling to my muscles or joints and refuse to be released. They prayed for me, as they had done many times before, and we all went home.
That night I couldn’t sleep. My whole body ached all night and when I woke up yesterday morning, my neck was so tight that my right shoulder was one to two inches higher than my left shoulder at rest.
I tested out my arm to see how badly the neck pain and tension was affecting it.
It went passed the 45 degree mark all the way above my head. I tried it again. And again. I just did it again now. It still pops and my neck hurts some, but my range of motion is back!
I shrugged my shoulders to test the movement there. It went passed the typical stopping point. Although my neck still hurts and I don’t have full range of motion back, it is definitely a God thing!
You can’t look me in the face and tell me that going to the doctor and getting proof of an injury and then waking up the next day with the evidence almost completely gone is just a coincidence. That, my friends, is some divine healing! A touch from the Lord’s hand! Can I get a hallelujah!?
So, needless to say, yesterday was already shaping up to be a phenomenal day. However, that was just the beginning.
Yesterday I also received a letter containing a check that pretty much covers the rest of my graduate school tuition. Read that again. And again. Now, that may not be impressive to some people, but that is a direct answer to my prayers followed by an overflow of blessing on top.
I have been praying fiercely that the Lord would provide the money that I need for my tuition each semester, which is no small sum. I asked Him to surprise me and I have have no doubt in my mind that He would provide in one way or another. The past three semesters, God has provided my tuition in a myriad of ways and on a timeline that I could never understand, but He has never delayed and He has never let me down. He has been more than just faithful. He has been… Wow. There aren’t words. There is no way that I could contain how good and perfect and absolutely, miraculously, indescribably incredible the Lord has been to me. There just aren’t words. He cannot be contained in a paragraph or a phrase. He cannot be described with the meager words of my unremarkable language. He has certainly surprised me more than once just in how He has provided for this one particular area of need and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He will continue to surprise me and He will continue to be the Almighty, Sovereign God that I know Him to be. I know that He will continue to defy the odds and do the impossible. He is good. All the time. And all the time. God IS good.
So. Yesterday was an absolutely phenomenal day. I saw the Lord answer not one, but two major prayers in my life right now. I had been praying for another $4,000 just to get through the coming Fall semester. The Lord did one better and provided enough for this semester and the next! Thank You, Lord! Thank You, Lord! Thank You, Lord!
And thank YOU! Thank you to everyone who has prayed for me and with me. Thank you for believing and trusting that the Lord would answer. Thank you for encouraging me in prayer and in person. Y’all are awesome and I pray the Lord blesses your socks off and reveals Himself to you in new and awe-inspiring ways.
God is good! Can I get an Amen!?
Surrender: (sur·ren·der / səˈrendər). verb. 1) Cease resistance to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority. 2) Give up or hand over (a person, right, or possession), typically on compulsion or demand. 3) Abandon oneself entirely to (a powerful emotion or influence); give in to.
Definition credit: Google search engine.
If you ask 20 different people what surrender means to them specifically, you will probably get 20 different answers. For instance, if I were to ask you to define a moment in your life in which you felt as though you had surrendered or were surrendering something or someone, your answer would differ from mine.
That, my friends, is called perspective.
I have a totally different perspective on the verb “surrender” than you probably do. And in all honesty, I’m sure that my viewpoint on that ever so complex word will likely change within the next year. Why? Because I am going to face a magnificent moment of surrender sooner rather than later.
Allow me to explain.
This word, surrender, has been coming up frequently in my life. It was the topic of a weekend camp that I attended and since then it has refused to leave. In fact, it has decided to swirl amongst the inner workings of my mind and drive me mad. Or, more likely, the madness I am currently experiencing secondary to the swirling surrender will draw me out of the bondage within me that holds me prisoner and will free me to be a much better me. I’m hoping for the latter of the two.
You see, the word “surrender” isn’t really a pleasant one. It entails leaving something behind or giving something up, usually for good. As in, when you surrender it, you don’t get it back. Ever.
Well, sometimes we do get surrendered things back. And sometimes when we get them back, they are better than before; or maybe we are just better than before. Maybe we had to go through the time of surrender to better understand what we had so that we could appreciate it all the more once it was given back to us again. Or maybe, just maybe, we have to surrender something that we perceive as being the best for us so that we have open hands to receive what truly is the best for us.
The problem is: when you surrender something, you can’t just expect to get it back. That’s not the point. The point of surrendering something, especially when you are surrendering something to the Lord, is to humble yourself enough to say, “I don’t have control over this anymore; it’s all Yours.”
Easier said than done, right?
My Sunday school teacher has a lovely saying: “The problem with living sacrifices is they keep crawling off the altar.”
Can I get an Amen??
I mean, seriously. We sit there and say, “Oh, Lord, You are so good! You created all things and You know all things. You are working everything out for good and I know that You are sovereign and You are in control. I am relinquishing control of (*insert whatever you are surrendering here*) to You. Thank You for taking my burdens and giving me Your peace that surpasses all understanding.” Then what do we do? We pick up the thing we just laid down in surrender and we walk away carrying it as if we know better than God! I know I do it. I lay down my worries and anxieties and then I come back later that day and pick them up again! It’s a never ending cycle. I’m just thankful that the Lord puts up with me and loves me and gives me more grace than I could ever deserve!
How do I surrender? How do I take my life and every single thing in it and give it up? How do I take my worries about the future and lay them on the altar of sacrifice? How do I take my plans and desires and relinquish control of them? How do I surrender all that I am and all that I have?
It should be easy, right? My mind should be able to grasp the concept that God is more than able to handle my life and all of its relatively minuscule facets. I should be able to accept the fact (not theory or assumption, but fact) that God is far more qualified to run my life than I am.
Let me try to use an example: Me trying to control my own life and refusing to surrender it is like me trying to fly an airplane or spaceship with no prior knowledge on the subject. I look at the innumerable controls that I know nothing about and think that I’m qualified to not only operate but control it all. In the meantime, I am refusing the help of the wise and knowing pilot who is sitting back, just waiting for me to ask him for help (the Lord is our pilot, He is the one who directs our paths and teaches us where to go). I am also refusing to even attempt to read the manual that tells me how to fly the aircraft (the Bible, which is like our manual for life) because I can totally do it on my own. Oh yeah, and I have no clue where in the world I am supposed to be flying the plane or spaceship, so I’m basically just wandering around and acting like I have it all under control and I know what’s best for me… All the while, I am gracelessly flying myself into oblivion; ignoring every warning sign that passes me by; ignoring every flashing light warning me of my imminent demise… And the worst part is, I think I’m better off like that. I think I’m better off with me in control, rather than removing myself from the driver’s seat and surrendering control to the pilot, who knows where we are going and knows the best route to get us there with the least amount of turbulence…
One day I hope I learn how to keep myself on that altar. I pray that the Lord helps me to be a living sacrifice, completely surrender. I pray that I obediently go where He leads me and surrender the things that I need to relinquish control of. I pray that God teaches me how to walk away from the altar without picking everything back up. I pray that I humble myself enough to walk in obedience and servitude all the days of my life.
He’s getting me there. One day at a time. Very slowly, but surely, He is getting me there.
So here’s to tomorrow: a fresh start and a new day. A new opportunity to surrender what needs to be released and leave it there. I’m willing to try. Are you?