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.”
October 25, 2017by Beth Mabe Gianopulos Category: DevotionThen Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me. May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.”Then she kissed them goodbye and they wept aloud and said to her, “We will go back with you to your people.”But Naomi said, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands? Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me—even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons— would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me!” Ruth 1:8-13 NIV Naomi is a woman that is filled with loss and grief. She has l…
October 26, 2017by Beth Mabe Gianopulos Category: DevotionSo the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?”“Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.” Ruth 1:19-21 NIV When Naomi returned to Bethlehem, people were surprised to see her because she had been away so long. When people greeted her by name, Naomi replied that they should not call her Naomi. Instead, she told them to call her Mara because God had made her life very bitter. She had once been full, but now she was empty. Naomi’s pain was raw and her emotions were deep. In that moment, Naomi no longer knew who she was. She knew that she had once been Naomi – a woman blessed with a family. Now, she…
March 21, 2018by Beth Mabe Gianopulos Category: Devotion“After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.” Mark 1:14-18 NIV When I was a teenager, I read this passage in awe. I could not comprehend why the disciples would just walk away from everything they knew to follow Jesus. Of course I understood that Jesus was the Son of God, but when I read the passage literally, it sounded like Jesus just walked up to Simon and Andrew and said, “Hi. Nice to meet you. I am the Savior of the World. Follow me.” I couldn’t understand walking away from the life that I knew because I still thought that I was in …