“Life can’t be about being good enough, but instead believing there is God enough – God enough for whatever our own humanity needs grace for… The questions is can I believe that when the suffering and the grief comes? And if I can – will it make me feel any less alone? – Ann Voskamp, this book (which is the only book I’ve ever wanted to read slowly because I don’t want it to end.)
Isn’t that the question though… I’m fine now. But would I ever be strong enough if I faced the pain of the past again? Great that I’m fine now, I found myself telling one of my uncles one day, but I could have died. Don’t you get that? I don’t mind that now I’m through it, but do you realize how bad it was? Nothing was stopping me. And you can tell me I’m different all day long, but would I be strong enough if I felt that hurt again? Because this life offers no guarantees, and if I risk loving again – there is the risk that I could be broken again.
“Relationships are the realest reality – and the realest risk… and the worthiest risk. Because in sacrificing ourselves, we are guaranteed to discover the depths of our best and realest selves.” – Ann Voskamp (can you tell I’m obsessed?)
And the truth is that the risk I’ve lived has helped me find the reality of my humanity. I’m more alive than I was pre-anorexia. (Is there really a pre-anorexia? – The pain was there… I just carried it in other ways.) I see the goodness that God has brought in my life and the lives of others through something SO PAINFUL and SO DIFFICULT.
“Love means holding your tongue when your heart is hard… Or when it is breaking.” – Ann Voskamp
I was too afraid… didn’t know how… to let my heart break as a child. No one showed me that the heart breaking can be one of the most healing things ever. But I was too stubborn, too afraid… No one was there to let me know the end of the story if I let my heart break. So instead I broke elsewhere. I broke my body. I broke my spirit. I was terrified to feel the pain of my heart breaking.
“Anorexic children display more mature defenses, contrary to all expectations but in accordance with the already well-known conscientiousness, high achievement, high conformity and overt compliance with demands of others… This kind of functioning is a unique adaptation to maternal disengagement when the child prematurely takes responsibility for their own self-regulation.”
Yeah, I’d say that could describe the dynamic between myself and the unstable home environment.
But here’s the thing, my panic about if it could happen again or that I could have died fails to take into account two things:
1.) It didn’t! I know not everyone gets that outcome. But all my desires to love, to give, to trust in God that were there since I was little – those did not let me down. God did get me through. To stay stuck in the middle and the horrible period that I lived is to close the book without getting to the ending. It is prematurely giving up on that faith, hope, and trust that I did have… that was real… and that got me through.
2.) And here’s the second thing – I’ve learned my heart breaking will only bring good things. I’ve learned that as long as I can be brave enough to let my heart do the breaking… the heart is capable of breaking and bearing that pain. The heart can transform through pain.
The story wasn’t over. Stick with it. You, who are in the middle of the darkest night, your story is not over yet.