"I don't understand," I told my friend through my tears. "I thought that I'd be over this by now. What is wrong with me, that I can't just move past this?"
"Honey," my friend replied gently. "You've been living with this situation for years. You think you're going to heal in just a few months?"
Yes. Yes, I did think I would. I didn't want to believe that I was so weak. What design could God possibly have in my weakness?
I have a long-standing distrust of emotion. I was born with that childlike quick-to-laugh, quick-to-cry response. I wear my heart on my sleeve too much of the time and I often berate myself for it.
Somewhere in my adolescence, I realized two things.
First, I saw what lack of emotional control did to other people. They couldn't keep their tempers, cried so often that their tears meant nothing, and made their happiness a nuisance to others.
Secondly, I saw that emotions are seen as weakness. If you cry, people sympathize with you but they don't respect you.
So I decided that emotions were my enemies, to be reserved for my journal, my prayers, and a few very select friends. As long as I could hide how I really felt, I would be perceived as strong, capable, respectable.
But no matter how much I tried to stuff my emotions down, they kept bursting out the cracks, sometimes more explosively because of the compression I subjected them to.
Now here I was, 28 years old, and totally losing my grip.
I had just experienced multiple life-changing events all at once. Sure, I had a right to cry and struggle for a few weeks, as I adjusted to my new life. But after that, it was time to buck up, move on, and be that strong, reliable, respectable woman I told myself I had to be.
It's not like I spent every day crying or moping around. I really didn't. But I felt the weight of grief, inadequacy, fear, responsibility constantly. I wanted to be the strong one for my family, but I could barely be strong for myself.
Sometimes my sister Acacia found me huddled in my closet, sobbing into my knees, crippled by emotions I could no longer deny. And as much as I loved her compassion, I hated her seeing me like that. I wanted to be stronger than that.
Why couldn't I be one of those mythical serene women who drifted through hardship with absolute trust and peace?
Time to Heal
Somewhere in the midst of my self-focus, I finally listened to my Father's persistent voice and heard what He'd been trying to tell me all along.
I was expecting more of myself than He wanted from me.
What did He want?
He wanted me to stop striving, to stop trying to be that "perfect" woman, to stop flogging myself for how I felt. He wanted trust.
He wanted me to look at Him and say, "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." To say, "Thy will be done." He didn't put conditions on whether I said it through tears or through absolute peace. The point was to know the truth and to act upon it regardless of the feeling.
And then to give the future to Him and to trust.
Deep wounds in the body do not heal in a day. Why should we think that wounds of the soul are any different?
Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him. - Psalm 37:7
I wanted the pain to be over, to be done with. I wanted to move on and pretend that my life had been put back together. But maybe that wasn't the point.
Maybe the point was to unveil my brokenness and let the world watch my God's hands stitch me back together, gently and lovingly.
Maybe the point was to stop hanging onto the scraps of my "strength" and let the world watch the my Father display His strength on my behalf.
Maybe the point was to accept the pain, like deep furrows plowed into the soil of my soul, to let the world watch the Lord grow something incorruptible in me.
Maybe the point wasn't me. Maybe it was Him and what He was doing.
Father, I see now that healing is of You, not of me. My inner strength and resolve does not heal, but Your joy heals (Prov. 17:22, Neh. 8:10). You have ordained that time is not my enemy, not a perpetual probation or test, but a kindness to me.
In this time of healing, I see You more clearly now. You do nothing hastily, nothing carelessly. Every touch of Your hands and stitch of Your truth and balm of Your blood has a purpose and design, for my good, for Your glory.
You do not want me to miss a single truth or comfort, but You wish me to taste them fully before You add more to me.
Take your time, Father. Don't let me miss a thing. Most of all, don't let me miss You.
None of my life has gone the way it was "supposed to go," but I don't love my life any less because of the hardships and new directions. I see so much unexpected good in it, and I want others to see the good in theirs.