Sometimes when life throws too many curveballs, or my heart feels too tender, my reaction is to take all of those big emotions and place them into a neat little room deep in my soul, close the door and walk away. It has been a well used coping mechanism in my life for far too long. I tell myself that I am dealing with all of these BIG things very well indeed because I am still able to function. I can pat myself on the back because even though things are hard I am still able to get things done and in many cases am even more productive than usual. Of course now I know that when I get so overly productive it is almost always a sign of anxiety and high stress. Instead of sitting with these hard feelings and letting myself actually process what is going on in my life, I get busy. Busy feels better than broken.
But the problem is that all of those feelings, fears and emotions are not really gone, just hidden. And eventually they will build up so much pressure that the dam breaks. Today my dam broke. It was not as big as a flood as I’ve had in the past, I have ,after all, gotten a little better at dealing with reality, but it was a flood non the less. Of course the panic attack I had at my new doctors office a couple of weeks ago should have been my first clue that the dam was about to break, but sometimes I am slow to pick up on these things.
Today my good friends Mom passed away. She found out she had cancer just 11 days ago. While I have never met her Mom my heart broke for my sweet friend who has already gone through so much recent change and hardship. But the true reason that this news broke my dam was because my own Mom was diagnosed with cancer just a couple of months ago and next week she is going in for a major surgery. I have worked really hard to stay positive and to “just not think” about next week. Even in my prayers for her and this whole thing, I find myself somewhat detached. I believe in God’s healing power and his faithfulness, but I also know that he does not always chose to heal in the way that we would classify healing. I cling stubbornly to His promises that he will always be there with us, even in the mud. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have very real feelings and emotions about the whole thing. And hearing how my friend just lost her mom meant I was confronted with my own fears of losing mine. I had to sit with that for a while. I had to let myself cry about it and process it and not berate myself for “giving in” to those weak and what feels “like a lack of faith” feelings.
There are a lot of other things adding to the pressure that has been building up inside, it never is just one thing right? Fears and concerns over my own health, moving to a new house, being on our own again for the first time in 16 months, kids pushing for more and more freedom and my continued concern over their safety, my ex’s family contacting me for the first time in almost 3 years, growing financial responsibilities and the pressure to provide for my family resting solely on my shoulders, feelings of rejection from what I thought was a growing friendship, enrolling kids in new schools yet again, and of course the unrelenting chronic pack/hip pain being my constant companion. And yet somehow, despite all that I have been doing and working on I still feel like I am not doing enough. OR rather that I AM not enough.
So the flood came. Tears, exhaustion, helplessness, anxiety and pain. All of it. I let myself sit in the pain for a while. I let myself cry and deeply feel each burden and each fear. I named the things that were sitting in that room waiting to be acknowledged. I had anger to deal with about the ongoing physical and emotional repercussions of living in an abusive marriage for 15 years. I had sins to confess and offenses to let go of. It is not pretty and it is not something that is easy to admit, this struggle with who I am and who God is. But it is real.
As I am writing this I am also looking at a sign I have up in my room, “The battle is not yours, but God’s” 2 Chronicles 20:15. And that is where I am going to choose to rest today. This battle with cancer is not ours, it is God’s. This battle of my children’s safety is not mine but God’s. This battle of loneliness and feelings of rejection is not mine but God’s. This battle with anxiety and fear is not mine but God’s.
God is not looking down on me shaking his head wishing I was a better person. He is not impatiently waiting for me to reach my full potential. He is not disappointed in my shortcomings. He is waiting for me to come and rest in his presence. He is holding out his hand to take mine and walk with me. He is storing up my tears because they are precious to him. He has not forgotten about me or decided I am too much to deal with.
I don’t have to pretend to have it all together. I don’t have to hide behind productivity or distractions. I can choose to be thankful in everything, even the pain, because it means I am alive.
Today I welcome friends and family into my new home, my imperfect home. I will rest in knowing that God is present, he cares and he is enough, so I will live today believing this truth. And if he is enough, I don’t have to be.
One thought on “When the dam breaks….”
I can relate to the process of filling up with emotional content and keeping it at bay by either ignoring it or intellectualizing a rationale. Except, for me, what I noticed is that I have absolutely no control over what thoughts or emotions rise. It’s as though I’m on the receiving end and not the conscious manufacturer of either. I am responsible for what I do with what rises. Period. Life is bittersweet, and to live life means to embrace both when they rise knowing that all will change. Thanks for this post. Very insightful. Take care of you, my friend.