A most happy new week to all of you! I hope everyone had a great weekend. If you caught one of my last posts, you may recall that I recently went on vacation. I had promised to share some insight that I gained during that time, so here we are.
I suppose the most important thing to know about my getaway is that it was an unexpected answer to a sorrowful, but heartfelt prayer.
As I’ve previously touched upon, the latter half of this summer has been a considerable challenge. From trying to plan and launch new business ventures to pursuing a healthier, sustainable lifestyle, Summer 18 has been a physical, emotional, and mental workout beyond anything I’ve experienced before.
Though my path hasn’t been neatly paved and the night has lasted far too long for my liking, I have faced so many fears and jumped over so many mental hurdles this year. It’s been scary, thrilling, inspiring, motivating and gut wrenching all at the same time. Some things haven’t worked as well as I had hoped, while other things haven’t worked at all. These particular moments have sent me to bed crying more than once, forcing me to ask myself, “You’re performing for an empty stadium. None of this is working. Why are you still trying?”
I continue to try because I have to. If I give up, there is nothing else left for me. I know that. Falling flat on my face is preferable to the nothingness that lies just beyond the inability to keep going. The possibility of finally succeeding at something—no matter how slight—keeps me on my feet. If that’s all I’ve got to show for myself by the end of this, then it’s alright by me. At least I kept going.
Rewinding back to the end of June/early July, I was utterly exhausted. Before this point, everything was going swimmingly. Full of energy and ready to conquer the world, I was blowing through my to-do lists like it was nothing. The newness of everything was invigorating, and I genuinely reveled in the challenges I was facing.
Then I crashed. I don’t know what happened. It was as though someone had suddenly pumped the breaks, sending me right through the windshield of my own life.
All at once, I lost my sense of clarity. Pre-existing health issues suddenly elbowed their way into my day to day life, diligently chipping away at my energy and motivation. I woke up in pain. I went to bed in pain. I slept the day away in between. And though I was fully prepared to bundle myself up in a thick layer of denial, it became all too apparent that depression was lurking just outside my line of sight. It was there; taunting me, threatening to destroy everything I had worked so hard to create.
My optimism and confidence plummeted almost overnight as I began to willfully listen to the disembodied whispers of fear, loneliness and discouragement:
“You’re an untalented hack who should be much, much further in life than you are. Everything you touch, everything you try is a failure from conception. You have no friends and no family. Surely, this is all of your fault. They all hate you. They’ve always hated you. Everyone hates you. Some hate you because you’re fat. Others hate you because you’re unattractive and boring. Loving others is a waste of time; they’ll never love you back. No one cares about or notices anything you do, so your life and existence is pointless. You serve no useful purpose. You’re going to die young and alone, just like you always feared you would.”
Despite my best efforts to mute the noise, statements such as these looped on repeat day and night. I stopped writing. I stopped believing. I stopped planning. Somehow, someway, I continued to push through my workouts each day, but not without scowling at myself in the mirror and loathing every inch of my body. Outside of that, I didn’t accomplish much.
Days turned into weeks as I flailed and writhed within the clutches of deepening despair. For me, it has been the hottest, yet darkest summer ever.
As time went on, my anxiety grew. I’m unsure if I’ve ever discussed my experiences with anxiety before, but I have had my struggles with panic attacks and the like since college. 2018 has been a record year for me as far as a lack of anxiety goes, so I was blindsided by the sudden return of full-blown panic attacks. I have to admit, it was relatively mild compared to my attacks of yesteryear (the kind that literally made me think that jumping from a moving car going 80 mph on the freeway or fleeing my house via a second story window might be a good idea). All the same, I could feel the toll that the continual stress was taking on my health.
As though this wasn’t disruptive enough, I found my faith life in the line of fire as well. My relationship with God is extremely important to me, so I do my very best to cultivate it and remain as connected to Him as possible. I deeply desire to live my life in a way that makes even non-believers question their own skepticism, and I have been doing my best to pursue God’s will for my life. However, I found myself at odds with Him throughout this trying time. Though I wasn’t on the brink of renouncing Him or cursing His name, I admit that I was… well, angry with Him. It’s probably taboo to say such a thing— I wouldn’t know because unfortunately, I don’t know too many Christians. It’s completely true though; I was “mad” at Him.
In truth, my frustration wasn’t directed at Him as much as the way the world works… the state of humanity. Racism. Violence. Homelessness. Addiction. Hatred. Abuse. Bias. Poverty. Disease. Famine. War. The world’s woes pain me to no end. I’m often completely overwhelmed by it all. And while I know these conditions are by no means His will or doing, I still find myself wounded from the mere observation of the lives and struggles of others. In comparison to the sorrow I feel about this being the kind of world we live in, my own issues are simply icing on a bitter and indigestible cake. My primary question for Him is always, “Why did you bother creating us in the first place?” I know the answer, but I sometimes find myself dissatisfied by it, frustrated with it.
I’ve heard countless stories of people becoming upset with God for one reason or another, only to throw their hands up and stop acknowledging Him altogether. Huh. Not me! When I feel frustrated, I go directly to Him, spouting off all of my grievances and “suggestions” like a disgruntled employee. Part of me imagines He’s up there shaking His head and laughing in my face… my “spiritual tantrums” are quite a spectacle at times.
Anyhow, this time was no different than any other time that I’ve felt it necessary to voice my displeasure. I expressed my desire for a breakthrough and demanded to know why I was having such a difficult time. Though it was often dressed up in the tone of, “Why have you forsaken me?”, I asked what I’d done wrong, where I had missed it. Surely, He had told me to do something and I’d not heard Him correctly (also to be read as, I heard Him perfectly fine, but didn’t want to do it).
As usual, it didn’t take Him long to respond. “I’ve told you before, but I will tell you once more, ‘Go home.’”
“But I don’t understand! Why do you keep saying that? I am already “home”. There is no other home for me. I feel most at home in London, but I’m already planning to go there, so that can’t be what you mean if you’re still saying it.”
“But I don’t know what you mean. Can’t you just tell me where it is you expect me to go? It can’t possibly be California. I never want to go back there again. I won’t go back again. When I left the last time, I meant what I said. It no longer feels like home to me, and all I have left of it are some foggy, soggy old memories and a broken heart. There is nothing and no one left for me there. Please show me where you want me to go so I can…well, go.”
“God? Are you there still?”
“Are you finished?”
“Finished? Er…yes, sir. I’m finished.”
“Good. Go home.”
And so I went.
(To Be Continued…)
Has God ever asked you to do something you simply did not want to do? Have you ever experienced a period of stagnation and/or frustration in your faith life? Feel free to share your story down below; I’d love to strike up a conversation about it.
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