As the new year is ringing in, I can't explain to you the many feelings that I am encountering. This last year was not one that was easy by any means. I often found myself asking "why me?" The amount of heartache, heartbreak, and mental break downs that I have gone through proved to break me down, and I didn't understand. On one hand, I am so glad that this last year is over and I can start again. On the other, I refuse to take it for granted. I learned and grew so much last year, and I feel so blessed to have had those many heartbreaks.
I felt broken, scared, and lost. Everything was spinning and I didn't know which way was up and which way was down. But I made a promise to a friend that I would always get back up whenever I fell down. So I continued. My legs quivered as a struggled to rise again. My lungs ached as I gasped for air and my eyes stung as I wiped away the tears and the debris from my towers that had just collapsed. I felt empty and alone. Everything I felt that I had worked for was slipping away. The plan that I had so carefully put on paper with nice bullet points had been ripped to shreds. The map of where I was going with my life had blown away in the hurricane that took place in my heart. I had to start all over in what felt like complete darkness and I felt so hopeless."Lord," I cried out, "I don't understand! How could you let this happen?! How could you let me feel this way?!" And for the longest time it felt as though I was hearing silence and it was the most deafening sound.
I don't know when it started happening, all I know is now I look back and I realize that healing was taking place because here I am now, standing taller than before.
I recently found a book that opened my eyes and helped me put words to these feelings and experiences that I was having. It was comforting to know that I was not alone in struggling to stay afloat. My wave days had tripled and my ripple days had grown fewer and fewer and I learned that I was not alone in feeling as though I was drowning and spiraling out of control. I tried going out with friends and drinking to the point of no return because I would rather feel the hangover than the hole in my chest. I'd rather feel the headache than hear the screaming in my head. But now I know that all this did was make me feel emptier and more tattered. Everyone around me seemed to be doing just fine but I was alone in my bed discovering the effects of mental illness for the first time. "Lord, why me?"
I finally got my answer today as I was reading my devotional. I hadn't spoken to God in months. I wasn't even entirely sure that my prayers were making it through the ceiling. But for some reason I got out of bed today and started reading "The Lipstick Gospel" by Stephanie May Wilson. I felt her pain in the first few pages but a couple more pages in and it wasn't about her anymore, it was about me. I related and I cried and I clenched my chest as my heart ached remembering what I had endured this last year. I spent hours pouring over these 80 pages and highlighting and writing notes and my thoughts and feelings. After I was done reading, I followed her example and I prayed.
"Lord," I said, "I don't understand. But I would like to." Sitting at my desk with my eyes closed I began to cry. I felt as though I was Atlas, holding up the world on my shoulders but in that moment I felt God take that from me. I let out a breath that I didn't even know I was holding in. I felt peace and I understood. I felt God's hands around my heart as He filled my cracks. And I finally understood.
I can't speak for everyone out there, I have no idea what's going on in your lives. I can't pretend to know because even if we are going through the exact same things (which we are not) everything impacts people differently. However, I was reminded today that God does things in His time. I know that if He would have answered my prayers when I asked I would not have understood and I would not have appreciated the struggle as I now do. Even at 112 years old God will still be shaping us and molding us. He has a bullet point plan tucked safely away that is far greater than the one you drew up for yourself. He has a map rolled up neatly and tied with a bow that only He can see all of the pieces to. We may see the hills and valleys but He sees it all.
We must remember that it's okay to feel broken. To be broken. It just means God's still shaping you. And what He has coming next is far greater than anything we could ever hope for.