Sometimes, it’s like I’m living life within my comfort zone. I’m not stretched too far towards pain, nor am I touched too greatly by joy. Instead of the ups and downs, I’m left alone bobbing in the tepid waters in the middle, the ocean between the islands of heartache and elation, pain and joy.
This hasn’t been one of those years.
No, this has been a year of being broken physically, emotionally, and financially. This has been a year of stress and disappointment. This has been a year of trauma and mental illness. This has been a year when consequences catch up to actions and the past dealt with in the present.
This year, I’ve felt the type of pain that runs so deep down inside your soul that you know that who you are will be changed forever. I’ve experienced fear. I’ve been faced with the consequences of my actions which were committed in fear. I’ve given forgiveness. And taken it back. And given it again. I’ve had moments/hours/days when my brain was hijacked by my fight-flight-freeze response and I’ve been only half of myself.
But this has also been a year of blessing. This has been a year when God’s grace has been upon me so that I could publish my first novel and run my first half-marathon. This has been a year when His mercies have abounded so that, through my pain, I am able to understand my children’s early-childhood trauma better and, also, that of the fictional characters in my series. This has been a year of God setting all things in their place, lining them up so that the light overcomes the dark, so love wins over pain, good triumphs evil, debts canceled.
My brain got broken this year. I went to a retreat a couple months ago that showed me there are other people like me. It was beautiful. I was surrounded by other people who have experienced what I have and, though none of us were completely fixed, we were all being worked upon by God.
One story a retreat leader told was that, at a previous retreat, there had been a craft project where the participants were supposed to break a vase and then glue it back together with gold. It’s called Kintsugi and the results are stunning.
The vases were supposed to represent the participants- their broken brains, hearts, lives- and the gold was God’s ability to fix what’s been broken. What the craft leader had not accounted for, however, is that the retreat was held at a high-altitude location. None of the glues they tried would dry. The glued vases kept breaking again, and again, and again. The participants who had come to the retreat for healing were in tears, the visual representation of their healing a distressing disaster.
But the leader was able to use that as an example. We cannot fix ourselves in our time. Only God can fix us, and He does that in His time and in His own flawless way. I can see the evidence of that in my life.
Tuesday night, I had the worst headache of my life and thought it was an aneurism. I felt certain I’d die, and I was at peace with that. I knew I’d go to Paradise and I had no fear. (Turns out it was just a tension headache!)
As I mentioned earlier, through my brokenness I’ve been able to understand the trauma my kids experienced and are still dealing with. I see- I KNOW- that a person’s limbic system can take over and make that person do crazy things, but that it’s because of the brain’s programming from past experiences. My own trauma is enabling me to help my kids better.
Because of some things that have happened, I’m setting boundaries in my life that I was afraid to set before. I’m making a conscious effort to do things out of love, not fear.
I’ve got a long way to go until I’m put back together, but God is fixing me in small ways each day, putting each of my broken shards where they belong, holding them in place with gold, making me into something beautiful.