Holding opposite things in tandem has always been hard for me. I want things to be this or that. Right or wrong. Good or bad.
For two decades, my survival depended on the ability to compartmentalize my experiences. I kept the abuse in one corner of my mind and my school work in another corner. It wasn’t fake or inauthentic, it was survival. The emotional weight of the former would have made the latter impossible.
But now, in adulthood, I’m in a constant state of learning to live more integratedly. To let opposites attract and meet in the middle – converge, even – without an implosion.
So here I am this morning, finding myself flooded with past memories and emotions yet again (again, again, again), while simultaneously believing with all of my heart, expecting, and preparing for the amazing invitation God has extended toward us for this summer.
Everything in me wants to EITHER push the past stuff down and ignore it – work harder, pray harder, eat better, sleep more, keep busier, be more productive so I don’t have to face it… OR succumb to the despair that was the overwhelming emotional theme of my past and just crawl in a hole and die – pull up the covers, shut out the light, silence my phone, withdraw, hide, hide, hide.
When I do turn and face my past head-on… when I look with unveiled eyes at the things that were done to me and the things I did to cope with them, I am crushed.
My worldview tilts, because how could ANY Sovereign God allow a child to be sexually exploited and sold to strangers? The Solid Rock who is my Savior and King feels like a stone god with a face of total indifference, and my heart shatters into a million pieces, because it feels like my knight in shining armor was a myth after all. I am alone. And if I’m alone, then survival depends solely on my will, and I’m feeling so damn tired. Because if humanity is that depraved and dark, and people are capable of such unspeakable evil, then why would I want to be here at all? My decisions to commit to a marriage or bring children into this seemingly God-forsaken world seem naive at best and selfish at worst.
But then my sweet baby girl toddles into the room, just to make sure I am still here.
And I know the world can’t be as dark and evil as it seems. I open my eyes to the myriad of blessings all around me. I lean into the God I know is near to the brokenhearted, and I whisper again, I trust You. I remember how You rescued me. I remember that you were always with me, even though I couldn’t comprehend You. I remember how you gave me a husband who is kind and loving and selfless, even though psychology suggests I should have been attracted to a monster. I remember how you poured out blessing on us, gave me this beautiful house, gave me these beautiful children, gave me hope for a future, and invited me into an incomprehensibly great adventure with You.
Can I do this? Can I allow these opposites to come together in one knowledge? Know there will be grace-filled days of tangible intimacy and joy, and there will be days when the past needs my attention and recognition and validation, but that God is here in the midst of all of it? Know that I don’t need to emphasize my future or minimize my past, but recognize the gift of today, and invite God into that space… the good, the bad, the unspeakable.
I truly believe there will come a day when past emotions no longer invade my present reality without permission. I believe there will come a day when I can think about the past at will instead of the past intruding in response to some random trigger. But until that day comes, I will try to meet God in the midst of whatever kind of day I am having, and give myself the same grace I would give someone else in my shoes.
I’m still stoked out of my mind about Serbia this summer. I’m going to post an update on our preparations later in the week! But for now, I’m going to sit with my blanket by the fire and drink the Starbucks my husband surprised me with this morning. Because with both the “good” and the “bad,” I am most truly blessed. ❤
Praying you find grace for whatever day you’re having as well. ❤
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. – 2 Corinthians 1:3