Someone asked me about the panic attacks I had last spring and before I realized it, I said four words that were so honest they caught even me off guard.
“I’m glad it happened.”
Glad. I know that people say this after hard times, that they are thankful, and maybe that’s easy for them. But after we went through such a hard time when we moved, I wanted nothing to do with anything that was difficult. I couldn’t imagine myself being thankful for any trial ever again--regardless of what it resulted in. As far as I was concerned, pain = bad and comfort = everything. I didn’t care how God might want to use it, or grow us, or where it might lead us. I just couldn’t have any more pain, it was too scary.
And then I lost the one thing I thought I would never lose: myself.
So now, five months later... I’m glad? That pain was all encompassing, but the aftermath was different. This time I let go of myself. I rode out the pain and the fear buoyed by the Holy Spirit, family, friends, three songs and two Psalms that kept me afloat.
In the first few weeks of this breakdown of mine, I said over and over again, “I feels like someone threw a bomb in my life.” That was all I knew for sure, life had blown up all around me and it would never be the same. What I didn’t know then was that I would really love rebuilding once the dust settled.
The most important thing for me to communicate here is that it’s not just the painful parts that have mattered. There was pain, yes; but the pain isn’t what altered me. The memories I can feel down to my bones are the ones that altered me: intimacy, family, friendship, grace, simplicity, faithfulness. These will outlast any wounds that are still healing.
It was the beauty that matters, not the pain. Beauty amplified by pain. Surrender magnified by fear.
I’m glad I came to know intimacy that goes beyond physical nakedness.*
I’m glad vulnerability was no longer a choice.
I’m glad I felt the enduring love of friendship that’s willing to push through awkwardness.
I’m glad I fell on my face to learn that grace isn’t something I sometimes need, it’s what I survive on.
I’m glad that I was given the chance to overhaul my approach to self-identity, transparency and distress tolerance.
I’m glad that I found my limits and replaced the barbed wire fences with pretty posts that protect what’s best instead of inflict pain upon trespass.
I’m glad it happened.
*with my husband, people. Don't make it weird.