There’s a difference between feeling like your circumstances are hopeless and allowing the delusion to consume you. It’s not just a feeling anymore. It becomes your reality. And whenever this happens, I’m ready to give anything to escape. I don’t want to deal. I can’t. I’d give everything I have (even if I once believed it was good) to not feel, to not care, to NOT HURT. I’ll be stubborn if I want. I’ll shut people out because I feel defensive like there’s something I have to protect from them. I’ll morph into a whole different being.
A friend called me a Punk. It’s probably a good word for it. I get difficult and cryptic and I talk back a lot, lot more. And honestly, it kind of sucks to be my friend. Maybe it’s the cynic side that wants to show them how hard it is to care for someone. I make it hard for them almost instinctively. And there’s the part of not wanting to sound crazy. I rather they see the logical me, the side that has something figure out that makes sense. They can’t handle the messiness. They won’t know what to do with the me that only feels but can’t connect those feelings to thoughts. So let’s shut them all out, my head says. It’s much easier.
The Wrestle. I haven’t slept for days?… a week, maybe? I lost track of time. I have naps. An hour or two. But that’s not sleeping. I wouldn’t even consider it rest. I twisted in my blanket and banged my head against the bed frame. I prayed for hours. I begged. I cried. I called out to Him night after night. I read chapters and chapters of scripture. I worshiped and sang. I asked for brothers/sisters to preach me truth. I repented. I laid it all down. And I was met with silence.
Everything hurt. My chest, my head, my eyes, my soul. Everything. And I wished it made sense. But it didn’t. I curled up and wallowed for a while before the weight on my chest got so heavy I had to run. So I did. I ran outside for a long, long time but the physical exertion only gave me dehydration. I ran away in my mind, but nothing could distract me for more than a few minutes. The poking and prodding only got more painful. As Augustus Waters kept saying before he died in that sad, sad book, “Pain. It demands to be felt.”
“He has broken my teeth with gravel;
he has trampled me in the dust.
I have been deprived of peace;
I have forgotten what prosperity is.
So I say, ‘My splendor is gone
And all that I had hoped from the Lord.’ ” – Lamentations 3:16-18
Then it was Sunday and I found myself making a long journey in the heat again, blasting praise music through my earphones, the lyrics contradictory to the stirrings in my head and in my heart. As I trudged along, I wept and pleaded. I begged him to cut me off. Please, please, PLEASE oh God. Why me, WHY ME? Why did you choose me?! Why save me? Why put these stirrings in my heart?! It was better when you were far! It was better when I felt nothing. It was better when I was empty.
My feet hurt. My head throbbed. My throat was croaky and dry. I was done. Done with it all. Take me out of community. Take me out of this journey. I don’t want to walk the walk of faith. Take me out of my drowning.
By evening, I was laying in bed again and making the same decision over and over. I’M LEAVING ALL THIS! I’M DONE! And yet, as I kept making the decision to leave, I couldn’t actually let anything go. The weight got heavier and I was trapped. Then suddenly, I was in the car with Maurice and Greg, pouring it all out. So much for “take me out of community”…
“I don’t want it. I don’t want it. I don’t want it! If I could, I would tear open my chest and rip my heart out and stomp on it! I want it gone. Cut me off. Cut me off. CUT ME OFF!”
Greg: “You know it wouldn’t be better if he did because there’s a place with more suffering than this.”
Head Knowledge. My mind, to some degree, can wrap around the idea that “it’s okay to not be okay”. That in the mist of not okay-ness is where we find God. That it seems like God is far and that, in the end, will lead us to lay everything, all our sin and hurt, down at his feet.
Lessons: God never said you wouldn’t suffer in this life. God doesn’t promise to lift every ailment, boo boo, or affliction you have (even if you cry to him a million times over). Sometimes, you have to suffer. He needs you to wrestle. He needs you to endure. He’s needs you to go through the trials and the pain so you can be molded.
“See I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction” – Isaiah 48:10
But does that always translate? Do I always, at every second, hold onto things I know to be true? And just because I know dark times are coming, does that make me well prepared for the trials? Sadly and shamefully, I say, No. I’m so human. I’m always ready to throw in the towel because sometimes things feel too hard and I begin to question… Is it worth it?
Remember the sacrifice. In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus broke down too.
“ ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’ Going a little father, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’ ” – Matthew 26:38-39
It must have been the worse feeling. The most horrific pain. You didn’t want it. And yet, you endured and bore it all for me.