This post was written several days ago, but I've been very nervous about publishing it. So I didn't. I'm ready to move on to figuring more things out, how I reached this low a depth, and figure out just how to find my way again. I listened to a sermon online last week about the woman with the flow of blood who touched the hem of Christs garment and how her life was changed but also how Christ had to single her out. And when He did, she willingly, not caring who all was around her, told her story. So... I'm hitting the publish button and letting the chips fall where they may.
If you thought this blog was personal before, you really haven't seen anything yet. This post is going to take a long time to write, several days even, I already know some paragraphs I'm going to cry when I write it, some paragraphs I'll erase and rewrite at least 20 different ways and times just trying to make it less embarrassing, or shaming. And then I'm going to sit on pins and needles dreading the comments, or worse, giving myself an ulcer wondering what awful things the non-commenters were thinking but were too kind to officially comment.
This is my story.
2007 has been wonderful. I became a foster parent! I received my first child, sent my first child off to live with what appeared to be loving grandparents. I bought a house! At the age of 26 I gained a mortgage of my own. I received my second child, and have kept her through the rest of '07. I lost my job, but after a month or so I gained a new better job even closer to home. God has blessed me beyond my wildest dreams.
2007 has been stressful. I became a foster parent. I received my first child, sent my first child off to live with what appeared to be loving grandparents. I bought a house! At the age of 26 I gained a mortgage of my own. I received my second child, and have kept her through the rest of '07. I lost my job, but after a month or so I gained a new better job even closer to home. God has stressed me beyond my wildest dreams.
Somewhere in all this things began spiraling out of control. I don't write this with any answers though. I don't have an answer, and at this moment, to be honest, I'm not really searching for an answer. By mid-November I was right at -what I thought- was the end of my rope. I was desperately unhappy, sad, confused as to why I could not find any sense of peace or hope, or just any sense of Gods love.
Then December hit.
I'll be the first to tell you my life is good. I have no reasons to complain. I have a good church family, good friends, a nice house, a good kid, a good job. I also have the strong sense of feeling responsible to care for my mom when my dad passes away. I have a lot of obligations I have to meet, and I'm not one to shirk those obligations. And I hope, no matter what I'm about to write, no matter my doubts, that no matter how long my situation might have lasted that I would always and forever remember those obligations.
I was already low before December hit. I was still in unrest because of so many things, and trying to find my 'nitch' with God again. I was psychoanalyzing everything, trying to figure out how I had got to the place I was at, what I had done wrong that had cost me my constant companion and friend that I'd always had in God, where had I stepped off the path? what had I done? but most importantly, how do I fix it?
Then, one morning in December I woke up and all I could think about was death. I had no desire to die, no reason to want to die, as a matter of fact, if someone had offered me Heaven right then I probably would have suggested that I would love to go.. love to... but I've got obligations here to tend to until it's my time.
But that didn't stop the thoughts.I couldn't tie my shoes without thinking of how to use the laces to choke myself. I couldn't use a knife cut fruit for Little Ones snack without imagining at least a dozen ways to hurt myself with it. I couldn't drive my car across a busy intersection without instantly thinking "if you just slow down..." There were hundreds of ways, from crazy, to slightly improbable, to those options that were just too easy and handy. And I confess, that several times I wished I could just get it over with so the thoughts would stop. My mind was over run.
It went on for two weeks. Two weeks. I had reached the screaming point.I hated going to church. I kept telling myself that no one that was thinking what I was thinking should be in church like I was. If I had been in another church where I could be unknown, maybe it would have been alright, but here... people thought I was a Christian, they thought I was strong in the Lord (that's what one woman told me) they thought I had a good relationship with God, they asked ME to lead them in worship. And every single moment I was in that building I was screaming at myself. I was a hypocrite. I was a fake. I shouldn't be here. But wait... if you're not here, who will play the piano? No one. That's right, this struggling church will have one more thing to struggle with, and why? because you just can't get it together, you just can't be what God wants you to be, you just can't get this right. So you're faking, and you're the worst of them all for it.
And that's just a small sample of my thoughts, and certainly a toned down version.
And somewhere in the middle of all this I remembered that Satan was described as the Accuser. I couldn't do much with the knowledge, I couldn't use it to proclaim some type of victory for myself. But I held onto that phrase anyway because with that phrase was the closest thing I could find to a spark of hope.
After two weeks of death, I found myself at the altar telling God I couldn't take any more. Something had to happen, something had to change. I was losing it. I'd lost control, I'd lost hope, I really felt as though I were losing my mind.
And death stopped.
And that's when sadness stepped in.
And I cried.
From that day forward I cried. I'm not a big crier either but it suddenly became all I did. I woke up crying, I smushed Little One off to daycare then I drove to work crying, I drove home crying, I'd visit a friend in the hospital and drive home crying, get little one to bed then cry myself to sleep. Besides the guilt of being in church, it was becoming more and more obvious that I would have to quit because it was too hard not to cry there. And I never would have been able to explain myself. If anyone had asked me, I wouldn't have been able to explain why I was crying except to say that I just hurt. My mind, while no longer racing with death continued to tell me of my failures. What use was I like this? I'm bringing down my whole church, everyones always asking if I'm feeling alright, or telling me I must have had a hard day because I looked tired. They're struggling with things too, they've got their own problems and even if they were to try and be happy, they wouldn't be able to with you bringing them right back down again, you shouldn't be here, you never should have come in the first place, you don't belong here. But what will they do when you leave? Everyone will wonder if you leave. Who'll play? Who'll lead songs when no one else is there to do it? If you leave it will make things harder for them. You'd be selfish to leave just because you can't get it together. WHY can't you get it together anyway? What's wrong with you? This isn't how a Christian should act. How can you keep pretending you're a Christian when you keep acting like this and thinking these thoughts?
Sunday, December 30th, I couldn't make it through Sunday School. I walked away from it and cried until I knew I needed to go back in before the kids got out of Sunday School and came looking for me.
Sunday night, I couldn't even stay in the sanctuary. After the song service, Little One and I sat in the back room and returned to the front only for the closing prayer time.
Monday, December 31st, the tears were constant. I woke up early crying. I cried for nearly 2 hours before it was time to wake up Little One and get her ready for the day and her day with my parents. That evening, as I left work to pick up Little One, I spent the drive trying to figure out how to do what had to be done. I wondered how to tell my pastor I was through. I wouldn't be back. I wondered if I should tell my parents I was leaving the church. They are about to start a new ministry themselves and I was afraid they might visit my church before they began the new work - only to discover I wasn't there. Should I tell them?
Ultimately, I didn't. I went home, fed Little One, played Mr. Potato head with her, sailed the little foam alphabet letters in the bathtub while she bathed, then finally tucked her in and prayed with her before she went to sleep.
Then I went to my room and cried myself to sleep.
At 1am, just an hour and some minutes into the new year, Little One woke me up saying she'd wet the bed. We worked together quickly, getting her changed and washed, and the sheets changed on her bed and in 20 minutes she was back in bed. As I returned back to bed I noticed that my mind wasn't racing with all the accusations against me, it was quiet, peaceful even. When I woke up the next morning, I felt the same thing. I didn't wake up with the same feeling I'd felt for so long. I felt different. As a couple of hours passed, in absolute peace of mind, I picked up the phone and began calling people and wishing them a happy new year. I called, and I called, and I called. I certainly wasn't the turned around Scrooge, that Mark talked about at his blog, but since that morning, life has not been the same as it was.
Peace is back. I'm still feeling my way along with God - I can't experience all this and not have some of my views on God smashed to dust. But the peace, peace of mind, is back.
Yesterday, I found myself sitting at my desk smiling, for no reason whatsoever. And today, I even laughed. It'd been a long time.
I'm afraid to hope for tomorrow. Afraid that in a moment this peace, so precious, will be gone. I've gained the image in my mind of how in control God is, and how all things are in His hand, including my peace. I've found myself looking to that hand, not in anger, but in absolute brokenness just asking Him to keep His hand open to me. I know, I know I don't deserve it. I don't deserve for Him to listen to me. Nothing I've done, especially in my foolish arrogance has impressed Him. I can see nothing else, except that He opened His hand of peace to me, because that's just the kind of person He is. Because He's that Good. He's that Kind. I didn't earn it. As a matter of fact, the idea that I might think that I - of all people - had earned His hand extended with peace, makes me sick to my stomach. I haven't earned tomorrow either. If my peace of mind is still here tomorrow - God please - it's because of who He is, not because of who I've been.