Falling Apart

I gave council to a loved one that sometimes falling apart is the best thing you can do. That perhaps allowing yourself to shatter will also allow God to put you back together in a better way. I know this is true, as it has happened over and over in my own life. After I said it, I mentally reviewed the times in my life when this has happened. I know that once I have allowed myself to fall apart, in the safety of my Savior’s arms, that when the storm has passed there is a cleansing, a deep deep breath of restoration, one that acknowledges the pain and the circumstances that created it, but knows I am deeply, thoroughly loved and held securely.

I’ve had a great deal of pain in my life, not any more than anyone else, and much less than some, but still it’s there. I, like many humans, will do everything in my power to soldier through, to toughen up, to stand up under the weight pressing me down and not allow myself to fall apart. I don’t know why I do this. Pride I suppose. The pride of not wanting to admit that I can’t handle the circumstance in which I find myself. Pride that doesn’t want anyone to see or know that I’m not okay. Pride that tells me I’ve earned these circumstances and don’t have the right to whine about them. Pride and selfishness that wants to hoard the pain to myself and not let anyone into it. Pride closes the door to healing.

There’s a deception that I labor under, and perhaps many others do too, that tells me that only pain that is of a certain nature, something caused by someone or something else through no fault of our own, is allowed to be felt or expressed. If it doesn’t meet that criteria, it must be buttoned up, held back, fixed and figured out yourself. I do this even with my Redeemer. I hold back the genuine emotion and only offer prayers of praise, request His guidance. But the holding back is what hampers the Holy Spirit from moving within me. I know this. I’ve experienced this too many times to count, and yet I still do it. I do it so involuntarily, so naturally, that I don’t even realize I’m doing it. Usually it’s only after I fall apart and the storm has calmed within me that I realize what I was hoarding to myself.

Why, why, why do I hold these things back from Jesus? Even now, I’m sitting here writing this and knowing that the next time I am dealing with something too big for me to hold I will do the same thing. I just came out of it two days ago, and it wasn’t until I said what I did to my loved one that I made the connection between my council to them and what I experienced recently.

In big things I go directly to my Savior. When my ex-husband remarried I fell apart and cried on the lap of Jesus, deep shuddering sobs and soundless wails that came from the depths of my broken heart. When my son-in-love died, I spent days, weeks, weeping out my pain, pain that regenerated in a moment and filled up again before I knew it, pain that still regenerates and fills back up and must come out. Most of the time that pain is poured out into Jesus’s hands. But little things? Those I keep to myself. I don’t want to bother Him about them. I don’t want to dwell on them, I tell myself, so I stuff them in a closet and go on about my life.

The pain of doing what He has called me to do and the negative effects on this earth of that obedience. The pain of wondering and searching for answers. The pain of doubt, of fear, of questioning what you heard and what you are supposed to know. Those present more of a problem for me. I acknowledge them, the reality of them, but I don’t allow myself to acknowledge the emotions of them. And emotion is where I get tripped up sometimes.

Also, it’s a slow build that I have problems with. Sudden, sharp pain is easy to recognize. A slow building of pain, layer upon layer, is harder for me to see until it has a life of its own and is staring me in the face.

What is the solution? To the emotions, the slow build, the tendency to hide and hoard, the pride of bearing the weight of suffering alone? I know that Jesus is the answer. I know this. He’s been the answer to my questions so many times that it’s knee-jerk now to think that He is the answer. But how does that play out? How do I incorporate the knowledge into my day-to-day life so that I don’t ignore Him when pain is building?

Paul wrote the church at Philippi these inspired words: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” I have heard this passage preached, taught, spoken of, explored, meditated on, but I haven’t truly used this as a foundational action to build my life around. I would like for this passage to be one that is incorporated so completely in my heart that it is an automatic response to any external or internal event. The words do say “in everything” after all. So the big and small, the weighty and the light, the extreme and the mild, all fall under the “everything.” But it’s also about abiding. Jesus tells His disciples to “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.”

I think I try too often to abide in my own self. To figure it out, to deal with it, to pick it apart and put it back together a different way, the right way. But I am not able to do this. I’m not supposed to be able to do this. When I am hoarding my pain, hiding my emotions or ignoring them (which amounts to the same thing), I am not abiding in Him. He knows I’m emotional. That’s no surprise to Him. He knows exactly what is going to trigger some fear, what is going to cause me to worry and doubt, what is going to hurt me. Why do I hide them from Him?

The other day when I fell apart it was a culmination of layers of stress and fear and doubt and worry that had built up in my heart. I don’t like to cry, and I especially don’t like to cry in front of anyone, but that day I did twice. I had told myself that I was doing what I was supposed to do by bringing my fears and worries to God in prayer. But I didn’t bring my emotions. I held those back. They burst out of me after a triggering event and then leaked all over me and a couple of other people in the process. And in that bursting, that breaking I was finally honest with my Lord about what I was feeling. What a cleansing breath I was able to take afterward.

The pain still exists. The circumstance hasn’t changed, but I have a new peace in my heart. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Goodness how marvelous it is to see God’s word at work in living color. I’m not supposed to put it all back together. I’m supposed to break apart and let Him put it back together. It is in the shattering that true life begins.

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