I recently listened to a devotional called ‘Killing Comparison with Nona Jones’ on the Holy Bible app. Something about the words on day one of this five-day devotion stopped me in my tracks. “The root of insecurity is found in the words of death, discouragement, and degradation that have been spoken over you. Words that have fractured your identity…when it happened the result is that you can’t see yourself clearly because the cracks those words created in your identity have distorted how you see yourself.” (- Nona Jones)
Wow, this really threw me back into my childhood. The comments, the humiliation, the bullying, the grief. But what if these words don’t always come from an outside source? How do you battle when the words of degradation and unworthiness are coming from inside your own mind?
As I processed the memories and images Nona Jones’ words brought to mind, the fractured self, the fractured inner child within and the way she still arrives in conversations during adulthood with her hurt feelings and defensiveness. I imagined this innocent shell of a child of God and then the way this flawed world has impacted and broken that beautiful creation.
But the truth is, if we went through life and never experienced grief, we would never feel the full impact of our love. If we never experienced pain we would never know and value the absence of it. If we never felt sadness, would we truly appreciate the feeling of joy?
Life will forever give us peaks and valleys. Without valleys and seasons of darkness how would we ever be able to know where to see the light? How would we ever learn just how strong, brave, and resilient we are. How would we ever fully embrace that God loves us no matter what as long as we have faith and believe in Him.
During one of my darkest nights, I was tested. I was so alone, more alone than I have ever felt in my life. It was 2:00am as I sat in a cold vacant surgery waiting room hugging my knees to my chest unable to stop the tears. I had a bad feeling about this surgery about the whole incident that had occurred the day of this procedure. I did not yet have God residing in my heart, or at least that I was open to seeing and feeling.
Most days flashes of this night still come into my mind. The cold, empty, quiet space of this large surgery waiting room that only had one other family far enough away we stayed strangers. I could literally feel my heart breaking into pieces. The pain in that moment was like when I broke into a million shattered pieces after my mom died. It was also a realization that no matter who I had in my life I was alone.
What I have learned when my mind takes me back to that difficult night, is that God was breaking me. Not breaking me apart purposely out of malice, but breaking me so that I could be remade. Breaking my walls, breaking the façade of power and control I thought I had in my life. It was God showing me that even when I’m lying on the hard unforgiving floor of a surgery waiting room with my knees curled into my chest crying and alone that Jesus is my foundation, my rock. Jesus is the only one I can rely on to be with me at all times and in all things.
That night, one friend shared texts and stayed awake with me for a while and it became a lifeline, a tether into this new spiritual world I was about to embark on. She was a child of God, something I was just learning to embrace. She shared scripture and support that I would never have thought of or considered. She held the pieces of me together in that moment until I was able to sweep them up and lay them in God’s hands.
I could have stayed in the darkness curled in a ball blaming God and not believing that I should live, but I have instead moved toward a stronger foundation of faith. Being broken allowed me let go of the image I thought others should see, that I thought they needed to see. That I am always strong and that I always have the answers. That night I began learning more about vulnerability, humility, and grace.
Since the death of my mother over thirty years ago, I have always been so afraid to show any weakness, but in that moment, I had no strength left, no pride fighting to hold up the walls I spent years building. I was empty, alone, and I spent way too much time wiping tears and watching the glass wall into the hallway waiting for a savior to come walking in and scoop me into their arms.
I remember thinking I didn’t really care who came as long as someone came walking down that hall… any minute now they would turn the corner and come to find me. But, no one came. I do believe that if God wanted someone there, He would have sent them.
Instead, He showed me that I could make it through just like I have made it through other hard times. He was teaching me that He was the one who was there. Though I didn’t see it at the time I can now see the image of Jesus sitting beside me, holding me, weeping with me as he felt my pain. I can picture that when I stood, we stood together His hand in mine. Our feet firmly planted on my new foundation. He had been waiting for my walls to come down. I walked into that waiting room broken and alone, but I didn’t walk out alone. Jesus walked beside me and we were flanked by tall strong armored warriors that no one could see, but they were there fighting for and protecting me with each step into this new journey.
I still have moments when I think of that night and dark thoughts threaten to lead me back to that cold hollow isolating feeling. But I stop those thoughts in their tracks with the knowledge that I no longer stand alone. In those moments I pray asking God, “Please God, protect my mind from this darkness that threatens to move in. Please God, allow me to see through your eyes and hear through your ears. I pray for the helmet of salvation to protect my mind from evil. I pray for your warriors and your armor of protection to surround me and keep the darkness away. I thank you Jesus for never leaving my side.”
I pray this prayer often and I have learned that I am never really alone. In the end, God knows, it all worked out the way it was supposed to. We were never promised an easy life, an easy path. We were never promised a life without pain, without suffering. It is in the midst of that greatest pain and suffering that we find God sitting with us. We learn the true depth of our inner strength and resilience that only the Holy Spirit can provide.
Song of the day: Big Daddy Weave, ‘Redeemed’