03 November 2015

the continued road to grace

So I grew up carrying the impossible responsibility of perfection.  Of course I failed constantly, which fed depression, self-loathing, and fear:  if I could never measure up, how could I be a good wife, a good mother, an acceptable Christ follower?

Understanding God's extravagant grace toward us was an incrementally slow process for me, beginning only when I sank into the long, nine-year valley of trauma recovery.  I gradually dropped all the balls I was juggling.  I stopped cleaning my house.  I stopped cooking meals for my family.  I stopped baking bread and treats for them.  I stopped making lunches for my husband to take to work each day.  We were a homeschooling family, and my children shouldered more and more responsibility for their schooling.  I began to suffer from insomnia.  I could no longer be available for people, which was something I had felt gave me value in the past.  I stopped planning get-togethers with friends and stopped going to activities.  I gave the bare minimum to teaching homeschool co-op classes and youth group, which were activities I had committed to and was unable to extricate myself from.  Physical intimacy with my husband became emotionally pain-filled to the point of being unable to even think about it.

I reached a point where I couldn't pray, couldn't read my Bible, couldn't sing (and because I breathe song, this was particularly devastating for me).  I was so, so tired of doing for God!  Spiritually, I was like dry bones; my soul was an utter wasteland.  I decided that I couldn't -wouldn't- be a Christian anymore if the life I was living was all there was.  I had a deep, abiding longing for MORE, but I never felt fulfilled and I thought it was because of my continual failure to "be a better Christian;" I had come to a point of knowing I would never be able to be better.   Add to all these failings, the "bad" behaviours I had begun - self-harm and disordered eating - and well, I met despair.

A journal entry from June/08 describes where I was:
I feel like I'm teetering on a precipice. Never in my life have I actually wanted to walk away from Christianity, until now. I've never even considered it before. Now it's a very real open door that I've never faced, never imagined. I just. don't. care. about living a Christian life anymore. It's not that I would jump off the deep end and go crazy-bad or's just that I would stop trying hard to be what I'm "supposed" to be, I guess. I'd just live and God wouldn't really factor in anymore. It would be nice to be finished with this wrestling.

And then there's the other side of the precipice, the side that is familiar as breathing to me, the side I've been on since age four. A small part of me (feels like it's getting smaller all the time) cries out to leap off the precipice, to be freed from the things that weigh me down and fly into God's arms with abandon. The weights feel like they are chained to me: fear, mistrust, anger, pride, pain, cynicism. I don't know how to be free of them. As soon as I see a glimmer of blue sky, black storm clouds billow in and blind me.

Oh, GRACE is coming, friends!  GRACE! so abundant, extravagant, and freeing.  Keep traveling the long way with me!

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