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.”
For years, my oldest son has been obsessed with football. This summer, before he started ninth grade, he begged to play for his high school team. My husband and I discussed it, and we agreed that our son could play. However, we both knew that there was a good chance that the practices in the grueling heat, getting tackled, and the hard work would eventually lead our son to decide football was not for him.
Just after school started, we had a parent’s meeting. In the meeting, the coach told us about his philosophy. He told us that he didn’t allow players to play based on skill alone. He wanted his players to work to play. The more effort a player put in during the practice, the more likely it was that he would play.
He then told us a story. He said that he had this skinny freshman that would not stop. He said every time the player missed a pass, he asked the coaches how he could do better. He said that when other players were resting, this player was asking someone to throw passes so …
I am constantly looking for tips and tricks to be more efficient. I recently discovered an app that allows me to organize my “To Do List” by categories. The app even has a challenge to complete a set number of tasks each day.
When I first started using the app, I was excited. I had categories for work, home, family, shopping, and travel. I wrote down all of the items I needed to do and assigned due dates. After the first week, I was going strong. I either checked off an item as complete (that is the most amazing feeling in the world – to cross an item off of a to do list), or I changed the due date to give me more time.
Fast forward a few weeks to this moment. I now have 33 uncompleted items on my personal list. I have even more items that need to be completed on my work list. When I look at the list, I feel my heartbeat race, and I feel the crushing weight of anxiety in my chest. The app that was supposed to help me feel more organized and efficient has become another item…
Instead, bless – that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing. 1 Peter 3:9-10 (MSG)
My husband is a master gift giver. No matter what the occasion may be, he always surprises me. He makes a sport of it, and each year he strives to outdo himself. The gifts are not always expensive, but he works to find a personalized gift that meets a specific need that I have or that he knows I will enjoy.
We live in a culture that is cultivating consumerism. At Christmas, every advertisement is beautifully created to convince you at an emotional level that if you receive the perfect gift, you will be forever filled with joy. The advertisers are so skillful that they have even made me cry during diaper commercials!
My husband is an excellent gift giver because he doesn’t fall prey to the culture of consumerism. Instead of mindlessly purchasing the latest hot item, he carefully listens as I mention an item I may need or an activity I want to try. He then lovingly…