“I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
“For being so jacked up.”
That had become my morning mantra to my husband, through tears and usually under the covers of my bed which had become both my haven and my prison. I had no idea why, but I had completely crumbled underneath the weight of anxiety and panic which had swooped in and stolen my life from me. No...not stolen...I was still left holding the cards, I still had to face and feel the same problem every day. No, my life hadn’t been stolen...someone had lobbed a grenade into it. And all I could do was face it: face how jacked up I was, face how everything had changed, face my unidentified fear, just face it all every morning as soon as my eyes opened.
Everything was broken because I was broken. Everything was crumbling around me and in me.
I thought that God was letting me break. I thought it was happening in the fear, the sobbing, the panic and the physical pain. But I couldn't have been more wrong. I wasn't broken from panic and anxiety or stress or exhaustion.
I didn't break during this season.
I've always been broken.
This season just revealed it.
I didn't feel broken and I certainly didn't look broken; but broken, needy, dependent, limited, fallible, fragile, and control-less is what I’ve always been. God used panic and anxiety to reveal the brokenness that was delicately held in place by an exterior shell of excellence. I had built an identity based on self-significance, pride, the illusion of control, and the self branding of strength and reliability. I really did believe that fundamentally, at my core, I was dependable and strong. I really believed that I was far from a broken person. I really believed I was resilient. I treated grace like the flour canister up on the top kitchen shelf: only pulling it down and using it on the occasion when I “needed” it. (And this from a non-baker; the flour canister is quite dusty in my house).
I didn't function as if grace was my lifeblood, my oxygen, my hope, not until all the alarms and warnings went off that my emotional and spiritual health were devastated. Only then, when I found the very end of myself, did I see things as they truly were. Only when every mirror reflected sagging shoulders and a grey undertone in my cheeks did my identity shell shatter.
The rebuilding only began once I faced that my physical neediness was a representation and reflection of my spiritual need for grace. Healing began only when I started with “I’m broken and jacked up….that’s it. That’s all I’ve got,” and let God breathe life and ignite a new understanding of grace into my very being.
Finding the end of myself gave me the chance to break away from the old, fragile ways and a dwell in a steady place. A place for rebuilding, a place that had nothing to do with my strength and everything to do with God's faithfulness. A place to trust instead of fear. A place where my value is solely based on the love I've been covered in, rather than all the things I can do.
Accepting my limits and my need for grace wasn’t an immediate healing, but that’s when the tides changed. That’s when I reached out...over and over and over again for grace through Christ, for Scripture, for professional help, for friends, for family and for Austin. That’s when I aired out all my brokenness and bathed in grace. That’s when this changed from utter devastation, to a healing process. This change meant that for the first time, I understood that any moment of strength I had (past, present and future) was a gift and not something I could give myself.
And just as I started understanding the limits of my own strength and my reliance on grace, God blew me away with a show of steadfastness that will last for eternity. But that’s another story for another day.