What does it mean to be free? What does it mean to simply be?
When I am asked to describe myself, I often reply that I am PWLawyerMom - I am a pastor's wife ("PW"), lawyer, and mom of three amazing kids. PWLawyerMom is an accurate description of my roles in society, but this is not who I am. I've been so consumed with "doing", that I have forgotten what it means to "be". This blog explores my journey as I find the freedom to simply be.
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What If Some Things Aren't Meant To Be Fixed?
Two years ago, I suffered a trauma. The end result was PTSD. Prior to that, I struggled with anxiety and depression. While the outside world saw a bubbly, happy woman, my heart ached so deeply that I sometimes wondered if I would die from the all-consuming pain. I literally thought that I would be crushed by the weight of the hopelessness and suffering that I felt in the center of my being. I was overwhelmed, lonely, and experiencing emotional pain so intense that I wondered if I was losing my mind. As my emotional state deteriorated, so did my body. I started to lose my hair, lose weight, and have physical pain. I hated myself, and constantly told myself that the traumatic event was my fault. I believed that God was punishing me, and the spiritual emptiness I felt was terrifying. There was not an aspect of my life that was not clouded by the dark shadows of PTSD, depression and anxiety.
I attempted to tackle my anxiety, PTSD, and depression by doing all the right things: medication, therapy, prayer and meditation, Bible study, reading every book that I could find on the topic, changing my thought patterns, and the list goes on and on.
When my pain and grief were at their worst, I wept on my husband’s shoulder, asking,
“Why won’t God fix me?”
In those moments, there was no answer.
I have taken all the steps medical professionals, psychologists, religious leaders, and grief therapists would tell me to take. I’ve been the “perfect” patient.
So, the question remains, “Why am I still broken?”
Some people would say that I am not healed because I have not “given it all to God.” Others may argue that there is some unresolved sin in my life. Some might argue that I have just failed to find the right therapy technique or medication.
But I wonder, “What if some things aren’t meant to be fixed?”
In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Paul says:
Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,
My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.
Because I was born in America, all my basic needs are met. I never fear that I won’t have food, shelter, or clean water to drink. Because the necessities of life are so readily available, I mistakenly believe that I do not have to rely on God to meet my basic needs. I think that I am self-sufficient. I feel in control. I think that I can do it all on my own.
But there is one thing that I have never been able to conquer on my own – there is one thing that no matter how hard I try, I cannot fix.
What if I can’t fix it because some things aren’t meant to be fixed?
When I ask this question, I do not want to imply that I am giving up. I will never stop trying to be as mentally healthy as I can be. But what if the problem is that I am trying to fix the only thing that keeps me humble? What if I am trying to fix the only thing that forces me to be reliant on God?
There is no circumstance in my life that has made me swallow my pride and be completely broken other than the “gift of [my] handicap.” This handicap is the only thing that keeps me in “constant touch with my limitations.” This handicap has forced me to pray in a desperate way that I have never prayed before. My handicap has forced me to share with others that I am not in control, I am not perfect, and I do not have it all figured out. This handicap has made me vulnerable, and in that vulnerability, I have recognized my limitations and been forced to rely fully on God. By relying fully on God’s strength and not my own, I have found an inner source of strength that I know can only be a gift from God.
Like Paul, the weaker I get, the stronger I become.
Perhaps, I have been asking the wrong question. Instead of asking, “Why won’t God fix me,” I should ask, “What am I supposed to learn from this?”
Maybe, some things aren’t meant to be fixed. The best we can do is “live it and learn from it.”
I recently started a new Bible study. To get things started, we had ice breaker questions. Each woman was asked to tell us one thing they are struggling with. As I read the replies, my heart ached. I kept thinking, "Me too!" Each mom wrote about their struggle with perfection. One mom was struggling with being the perfect pastor's wife and mom. Another woman was struggling with being the perfect employee at a demanding job. Another mom was struggling with balance - she wanted to be an amazing mom, an amazing employee, and an amazing wife, but something was always suffering. As I read, I could almost see theunbearable weightof: I am striving for perfection, but I always fall short Even my best is never good enough I am trying so hard to be good enough I am doing everything I can for everyone, but my everything is never enough Beneath the drive for perfection and the desire to please is an even deeper need. …
July 3, 2017by Beth Mabe Gianopulos Category: Devotion “For I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:19-21 (NIV) Pain is something I would prefer to avoid. It doesn’t matter if the pain is physical, emotional, or spiritual – I do not want to feel pain. Despite my best efforts to avoid pain and to flee from it, I have endured a lifetime of pain in the past two years. When the pain is most intense, the feelings overwhelm me. I do not know what I want and I cannot think of anything that will ease the intensity of the emotions. My chest constricts and a heavy weight is on my heart. I want to curl into a ball and be alone, yet I want to be held and …
Being in ministry is tough. I think many people know that it is hard, but few know how hard it can be. Fortunately, my husband and I are currently at an amazing church. We are loved and supported and we are incredibly blessed.
Even though we have an amazing church family now, there have been many experiences that have not been as positive over our 20 years in ministry together. Because of the incredible stress on pastors and their families, more and more ministers are leaving the ministry. There are a number of reasons that ministry is so stressful. Below I've listed some of the stressors and how you can help support your pastor and their family.
1. Pastor's have strengths and weaknesses just like every other human on the planet. Churches often expect their pastors to be gifted speakers, counselors, grief experts, spiritual leaders, administrative managers, finance experts, intellectual Bible scholars, and great with people. As long as churches expect the pastor to b…