“Therefore, I will not restrain my mouth;
I will speak in the anguish of my spirit,
I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.”
Job 7:11 (NASB)
I’ve always liked the book of Job. I think it goes along with my melancholy spirit. I can identify with the man. That’s why, when I came across this verse the other day, I immediately felt I had found a kindred spirit.
You see, I’ve spent the better part of the last 14 years complaining in the bitterness of my soul. Life has been hard. It has not gone the way I had hoped or planned. It has pressed me near to breaking point, and it has brought me to my knees (flat on my face actually). I have cried out in anguish. I have stormed about in anger. I have nearly gone mad from frustration. Through it all, I have learned that I am not the person I thought I was. I do not have the patience I thought I had. I am not as kind as I would have hoped. I can be downright mean and nasty, and I have learned to hate myself at times for it. It’s funny how life can do that to you… force you to see the not-so-good side of yourself.
Sometimes our hearts are so heavy, we can’t help but complain. The misery we feel within is so intense that it boils inside like a live volcano that eventually explodes, producing pyroclastic lava flows that cause great damage to everything in their path.
I’m sad to say that I’ve burned quite a few people with my magma of misery. I knew things were heating up, and I knew I would eventually blow, but I had no idea how to stop what was happening beneath the surface. I felt like I was stuck in a life I had no control over. I felt like things happened TO me, and I was powerless to change them. Eventually, when you feel that way long enough, you give up hope. You look ahead to the next portion of your life and can’t wait until the good LORD calls you home. I know, it sounds grim; but that truly is the way you feel when you keep getting knocked down. I remember explaining it to someone once like this: “I feel like I have two broken arms and two broken legs, and my trainer is telling me, ‘Get back into that ring and FIGHT!'” I had nothing left with which to fight. I was down.
I am happy to report that I didn’t stay there. I sought help. God placed some wonderful counselors in my path who taught me that what I was feeling was real. I had a lot on my plate. (Sometime, in another post, I’ll tell you a bit more about that.) Suffice it to say, I remember telling my first counselor, “I feel like one of those plate spinners in the circus. I keep trying to keep all my plates spinning; but by the time I get to the last one, I can’t make it back to keep the rest going. Plates are crashing everywhere.” He helped me to see that I wasn’t crazy like I thought I was. I just had way too much to handle and no one to help me.
A few years later, after my husband lost his job and moved halfway across the country to take a new one, I once again found myself face to face with despair. I was looking at having to move back to a place that was very traumatic for me. I felt like I had no options. Thus began my descent into major depression. Once again, God placed a wonderful counselor in my path who suggested I go to one of the Meier Clinics for treatment. It was the best thing that ever happened to me, because that was the beginning of my journey out of the pit of despair. The first and most important thing I learned there was that I DO have choices. We all do. We think we don’t, but that is not true.
Sometimes we feel unworthy, like our opinion doesn’t matter, or like our needs aren’t important. I’m here to tell you they are. Years of squelching my needs to satisfy the needs of my family, and not getting my needs met in return, was a recipe for disaster. We all have needs. God designed us that way. His intent was that we would work together in relationship to mutually meet one another’s needs. We can’t always give, and we can’t always take. It’s a two-way street. A dear lady from the church where my husband and I met explained it to me this way, “As women, we are always meeting other people’s needs. It is like we hold a big bushel basket full of apples, and we go through life handing out our apples. If we don’t stop every now and again to replenish our basket, we will run out of apples.” I ran out of apples a long, long time ago; and I didn’t know how to replenish my basket.
I’ve since learned many ways to do so. Probably first and foremost is learning how to establish boundaries (and not feel guilty about having them). I’ve learned to not feel guilty (oh… there’s that word again!) about taking time out for me. I might do one of the following:
- read a book for PLEASURE (not a self-help book that requires me to underline or highlight… seriously, most of what I read means there is a pen in the book);
- go for a 3o-minute walk while tuning into nature (smile at the sun, laugh in delight at the sight of a bluebird, drop my mouth in awe at the sight of an eagle soaring overhead);
- call a friend to go to lunch (I love to eat!);
- light a few candles, put on some soft jazz, grab that pleasure book, and soak in a hot tub;
- watch one of my favorite movies;
- reminisce over some wonderful people whom God has placed in my path who have filled my life with love;
- eat chocolate (dark, so it’s healthy);
- crank my stereo and sing to my heart’s content;
- write an entry for my blog (and hope someone reads it).
The interesting thing is that, through all the pain, God has been there picking me up. He has given me the insight to know that it has not all been in vain. Through it all, He has been teaching me and molding me and transforming me into the person He wants me to become. I know that one day I will be able to look back and see how it all makes perfect sense as to why each of those hurts was there. There was a bigger purpose. Perhaps it has to do with being a beacon of light to lonely, hurting, brokenhearted people who, because of poor choices, find themselves in codependent relationships over which they feel they have no control. That is something I can REALLY relate to!
How about you? How do you replenish your basket? I’d love to hear your ideas!
Walking in His grace…
Life can sure hurt, LORD. Sometimes we don’t know how much more we can take. When we reach that place, help us to hang on to You and just trust. Trust that You are in control, and you won’t let us be obliterated by it. Help us to realize that Satan wants us to fail, and he is doing everything in his power to keep us from living in the joy and freedom you want us to be living in. Are we going to let him WIN? Give us all the courage and strength to answer with a resounding, “NO!”, and teach us to see beyond the hurt to the blessing on the other side.