I desperately want to make a clean break from it.
For more years than I can remember it’s taken up camp in the pit of my stomach and invaded my mind like a Philistine army with a Goliath heading the charge. It’s followed me around, rocked me violently to sleep, crawled, slithered, sunk into my soul.
What many people experience as this separate thing they feel sometimes, I can’t separate from the core of who I am. It’s so central to my experience that I often flee while it remains.
A thorn in the flesh, yes. More like a poisonous thorn releasing slow toxin in my blood stream that ever-so-carefully cripples and withers first mind, then spirit, then bone. It happens every year, several times a year. My inner fight to keep it manageable runs out, and I’m a mental, spiritual, physical less-than. And I figure, I must be weak, that it alters me like this. I must not be up for the challenge like the rest of them.
I was fine yesterday. Just fine. And then evening rolled around and I’m engaged in conversation and I’m enjoying the moment. I’m completely unsuspecting one minute and the next I feel like I’ve been hit by a wild wind with ice cold edges.
What matters is breathing. Sanity. Keeping my sights on the tiny flicker of Living Hope that I know exists.
My face starts to feel tingly and numb, I can’t feel my fingers, and I realize that I’m not taking full breaths. I’ve dealt with it long enough to realize I need to breathe, to voice the panic aloud, and it never escalates. But it takes its toll.
I’m laid out for the whole night. It’s a bit like shock for the soul. The emotional and spiritual centers start pulling life blood to the core, settling into a survival mode that cares little for the extremities and details of what kind of mood you’re in and whether or not I returned the phone call, made the appointment, picked up the table after dinner. None of it matters. What matters is breathing. Sanity. Keeping my sights on the tiny flicker of Living Hope that I know—I know—exists.
When the evening spills over into the next day, and I can’t shake it like the well-meaning advice of so many might be, it triggers the hopeless and the not capable and the what’s the point? I throw the goals and the dreams and the someday-I-hope-tos on the floor in the corner and turn my back on them. It’s easier to make a clean break from the things that will never happen, or so I tell myself.
It’s a lie.
A lie based on the deep-seated fear that my worth is based on what I can offer to you. And when all I can offer is a few deep breaths and a pile of crumpled may-have-beens in the corner, well, it feels like I’m not worth much.
So what is a girl to leave behind, to make a clean break from, when the thing she so desperately wants to leave behind clings like campfire smoke?
In the middle of it all, I am loved.
She leaves behind the old perspective, the one that builds identity out of success and affirmation and nodding heads. She leaves behind the voice that screams, “You are not if you do not!” She leaves behind the fear of weakness. Because this weakness of mine, it’s done nothing if not made me especially passionate about weakness.
Not weakness that I once had but, Look, now I’m strong! Not that kind. The kind that I’m living in the center of, the kind that is right now. The kind that I want to talk about because it is a living and tangible experience of grace.
I am not. I can do nothing. But right there in the middle of it all, in the middle of the darkness that chokes and cripples success and production and glory, right there, I am loved.
So fiercely loved.