When the world threatens to fall apart.

It occurs to me that I have barely stopped to breathe in the past ten months. And now that I've paused to write, my whole essence heaves a sigh. They say that transitions, even happy ones, cause turmoil in our systems. We have to grieve when we move from one chapter to the next. Turning the pages can be traumatic. Because sometimes, you're catapulted like a rag doll. Other times, you have to place your hand on the doorknob of change and walk through, one baby step at a time. And I don't know which one is more frightening. Its no big secret that life moves so much faster than we want it to.

My last semester of college, I juggled twenty-one hours worth of college classes that included an internship. In February, I got engaged. In April, I got hit with a fourteen hundred dollar bill on my student account and was afraid to tell my dad about it. I graduated in May and got married in June. At one point during the months since, I worked myself into a ridiculous state thinking I was pregnant, despite routinely taking my birth control pills. Because Craig works full time, I spent my days alone for the most part, in search of my own employment, and in late September, I finally heard back from one of my prospects. I got my first driver's license at nearly twenty-three years old. And I now work as a case manager for the Division of Family and Children's Services.

It has most certainly been a year of transitions. And looking back, I have been scared to death throughout the overwhelming majority of it.

There was a day at the tail end of summer that I told my friend Mat that I spent my days paralyzed by anxiety. I don't think I had ever been so matter of fact about it as I was that day. We were in the middle of the woods, hiking down towards the river, and I could barely look up the entire time for fear I would step on a snake.

I'm not proud of my anxiety. It is the most gruesome limitation.

I can only describe it this way: no matter how many storms you've weathered, anxiety is constantly telling you that the next one will be different; the next storm will be the one to steal away your soul. No matter how many times that person has been sympathetic to your needs, loved you through successes and failures, the next one will be the one to strip away that faithfulness.The world, your world, is constantly threatening to fall apart.

Fear shrinks the heart.

Emily Freeman talks about how we tend to glorify people who appear to have it all together, and I think she's right. I have spent the past ten months bracing myself at every turn, gripping my life and trying like hell to keep things together.

The past ten months have taught me that I don't have to keep it together in my own strength.  They have reinforced the heart-knowledge that I do not have to strive.

Colossians says He is before all things, and in Him, all things hold together. Romans says He is working all things together for my good. Psalms says He watches and protects me tirelessly, that He is my keeper. It assures me that when I am faithful to follow where He leads, that He will enlarge my heart.

Even when it seems like the world is threatening to fall apart. I am held together. 

Bob Goff says our actions should betray our uncertainty. And sometimes the most difficult action is simply choosing to fill our lungs with oxygen again.

Bring the blade.

Its three in the morning, and my friend Ryan is looking for God. I am none but compelled to stay up and look with her. The winter bites cold, and my bones shake because I was made this way to withstand the weight of the storm. I used to want to be unmovable, but the tension only brought about pain. Sometimes sturdy means wobbling questions. I am thankful for this. Ryan can’t seem to find God, and has been looking less and less since the night when the last bit of innocence was stolen from her, and between the two of us, we know what it is to buckle under the pressure. Sometimes it leads her to bleed, self surgery just to feel some release, but it never seems to be enough.

She wants to believe that He still whispers a declaration of goodness when He sees her. She wants to believe that there is a Garden, but there was nothing alive or growing when she said no stop don’t and all that stopped was time. She says she doesn’t know if she wants to get better now.

In Hosea, scripture talks about plowing up the hardened ground of our hearts. Could it be that she is searching, but because her heart is hard, there is no space for the Lord to come and take root? I catch my breath, and I can scarcely imagine a more gory act than the plowing of the heart. A ripping and tearing of everything inside of us that brings about death, everything that we cling white knuckled to. We live in our caves, in our grave clothes, perhaps because the thought of reaching out again is just too painful. And the plowing is painful, too. It leaves us unrecognizable. That is grace. It waves a banner.

Am I really ready for this, I wonder. This miscarriage of the darkness inside me, and I know that my God is able to catch me when I pass out because too much of what has sustained me so far has only been that which brings about the bleak and despair. It is already happening, and I can hardly believe it when I see it. The heart beats stronger, the mind thinks more clearly, and the eyes see through the lens of blessing. Blessed be the Lord, who provides and sustains. Blessed be the Lord who allows the slow of winter’s destruction. He makes us new again. He makes us beautiful, we who were constructed out of the dust, designed to experience His glory.

Call the surgeon, mend the pieces