Have you ever had one of those moments, the kind where you just cannot bear any more and the littlest thing sets you over the edge? Where years of tiny cracks hidden behind “I’m fine” begin to splinter and before you know it you are utterly shattered?
More than once if I’m being honest.
And pretty recently if I am being totally honest.
This is not something that happened to me once in the distant past. It is something that keeps happening to me as I get older.
It began like any other day. Nothing eventful to report. Just going about life as usual. But then someone whispered, just the right words to press me in a deeply hidden hurt, and suddenly I was undone. The air was thick and my feet felt like they were pulling molasses as I ran to find an empty room. The tears were coming fast and the whole universe seemed to be slowing me down on my quest for solace. Finally, as the door closed behind me, I collapsed on the floor in the dark. I sobbed until my shoulders were heavy and I was breathless, unable to go on. And then everything went silent. I remember staring at a fleck of paint on the windowpane as if it were my only purpose in life. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t move. I had lost myself.
Have you ever found yourself in a similar place?
For me, it is usually the feeling of not being enough that brings me here.
I recall feeling this for the first time as a small child when my parents divorced and my mom moved away. This knot in the pit of my stomach that told me I wasn’t worth sticking around for. As I got older I began to feel like a failure in all of my relationships. I wasn’t a good enough daughter. Or sister. Or a good enough friend. Then enter the awkward teens years where dating left me feeling like I wasn’t a good enough anything…Not pretty enough. Not slender enough. Not popular enough. It was never enough. I began to cover that knot in my stomach with a driving force to be better. stronger. smarter. Then they would see. I’d be the best employee. The best student. Best babysitter. Surely then it would be enough. Only, it never was. Inevitably somewhere along the road I would encounter someone, anyone really; it didn’t matter, a mean girl or a hunky boy who didn’t think I was enough and it all came crashing down.
I would like to say now that I am comfortably settled into my mid 30’s these silly feelings of inadequacy that plagued my youth have all passed me by. But I must admit; they have not. They just take a different form now. The enemy whisperers in my ear and slowly his lies start to become my truth. I’m not a good enough mother. Or wife. Or Christ-follower. I haven’t served enough. Given enough. Sacrificed enough. Little by little they begin to sink in and just when I feel like I can’t take any more he delivers the final crushing blow; a betrayal by someone I love and respect, leaving me once again with a knot in the pit of my stomach and a feeling of complete worthlessness.
It is in these moments, when we find ourselves so broken we hardly recognize our face in the mirror, that we must finally reject the lies and seek truth. We must not be so consumed by our brokenness that we cannot see a path to healing.
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5
The idea of rejoicing about our suffering might seem a bit crazy; I mean, who is happy about suffering? When we take the time to look deeper we find not a command to enjoy our suffering but rather an encouragement to look ahead on the other side of the suffering and rejoice at what we will become. We must have faith in the process. It is this suffering that trains us – corrects us – disciplines us – pushing us towards who God intends for us to be.
“No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11
I am reminded of an article my sister once shared with me about Kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold. And it occurred to me that is exactly what our gracious God will do with us, if we only let Him. How remarkable is it that not only does He remake us, but He does so in such a way that even the scars left behind make us more beautiful than we were before.
These moments are now tattooed into my memory as a marker of who I was before and who I became after; each one a different milestone on my journey to becoming more humble. More honest. More mature. More compassionate. More faithful. More like Christ.
Each one a testament to the incredible value our God sees in us. Rather than throw us away when we are feeling the most worthless, He sees fit to piece us back together and make something new.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” Jeremiah 31:3
And the lesson I will keep learning over and over again until it is no longer a stronghold on my life is this; It is not about whether or not I am enough. Because Jesus is. And that has to be enough.