You do what you gotta do. You do a lot of praying, a lot of wishing and wondering and questioning and searching, while just trying to function at some small fraction of a normal level. You’re overwhelmed, overloaded, and over-exhausted. But because of the hope in Jesus Christ and His grace, you make it through the deep dark jagged-sharp-edges-to-watch-for place of crisis. Then, very gradually, slowly, painfully, and with no small amount of love and encouragement and prayer from friends God has placed in your life, you breathe again, a little, ever so briefly. And then another breath, and another, over time. You continue to lean on God and you begin to put one foot in front of the other ever so slowly…forward, backward, an unscripted dance.
Though the surreal horrible time has passed, there are still unforeseen changes on the horizon that sometimes catch you off guard. Your guard is still there. It has served you well and continues to provide some level of at least imaginary security when you feel anything but secure.
Time passes. You discover one day that you are functioning sort of normally more days than not. You feel more of life in brief moments, and these moments occur more and more frequently. Your life with God’s help finds a new routine, and you plod along day by day doing your best to enjoy the blessings that you have. You learn to move on past the past toward the future planned for you. You ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after. The. End.
Wait – Hold up. Not so fast. My story is a real story, not a fairy tale. I’m a long way from the end, even after such a long time. That’s sad but it’s where I am. It is what it was.
There have been a couple of times in my life when fear and pain and anger and grief melded together into searing flaming hot coals that plunged straight into the center of my soul. Because of the love of Jesus and His balm of peace and comfort, I have healed and continue to heal as I continue to learn. I used to think that I had already been through the last chapter and closed the book. No, not at all. God continues to show me things about me. Like maybe I’m still enjoying keeping my guard up and maybe my walls have been weakened but are still there. You know, those walls of protection that at one time were necessary just to keep my sanity. I recently discovered that I painted them to look like a sunny meadow outside with blue sky and puffy clouds and sunshine, and after a while I forgot they were walls.
I realized not long ago, thanks to a dear friend, that just because walls are painted so that they are camouflaged does not make them any less there, even when I had long forgotten about their existence. And while keeping your guard up is recommended in certain situations, it was never meant to be a day in day out way of life forever.
I’ve learned that different alternatives can be, and should be, explored. Alternatives that never entered my mind because the walls hid them from me. This exploration of different alternatives can lead to more healing and more growth and more possibilities that I ever dreamed of. I can actually really hope for some of my closely held dreams to not be dreams any more. For the first time. Ever.
I’ve learned that I was moving forward, but dragging my walls with me everywhere and keeping my guard up and very close to me for added protection almost continuously. It is what it was. I was moving forward, while missing so much. My mindset was that everything was just like it used to be. Everything at its worst, everything I had to question, everything I longed for but knew I would not have, everything that was. Still there with no changes. Everything I feared was still right in my face, yet not really there. I really believed all of this to be true even though I did not realize it. I never entertained the idea that I had a choice.
It is what it was is now in the process of being updated to the present: It is. The past is breaking up and moving away to reveal a whole new present I did not know existed. Letting my guard down and tearing down walls is a gradual process; everything with me is. It’s scary. And going away from what has been a part of my life for so long is strange and uncomfortable. I feel like a prisoner who has been set free but has no clue what to do and longs for familiarity, not quality.
Yet, I know Jesus has promised me life, and life abundant. (John 10:10). And I know I can’t enjoy that abundant life dragging walls around and working so hard to keep my guard up. It’s exhausting and counterproductive and just plain unhealthy on so many levels.
I don’t need walls, and I don’t need my constant guard between me and everything. I already have all I need. I have Jesus. He is urging me on and encouraging me. And it all started with His love shown by one who cared enough to speak truth into my life.
I will learn to live more and more in the here and now as I continue the tedious process of dismantling and tearing down and letting go. Tough work. But finally, work that will allow me to move forward unencumbered. Tough work that will lead to true freedom. Thank God.
I came that they might have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10b, ESV)
…and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:32, ESV)