Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Breakdown Breakthrough

One small step for mankind; one giant leap for little me.
And, no, I didn't go to the moon. But this achievement is, for me, nearly as exciting and far less dangerous. Alert the media, I had a physical breakdown without an emotional breakdown.
Did the twitter universe explode? Not yet. Just give it a minute or two. I'm sure Drudge will pick it up.
In all seriousness, on the face of it my declaration of mental stability is not the makings of a front page news story. Or the back page news story for that matter. Emotional and mental stability should be a given. At least it is assumed to be a given. No one talks about their breakdowns on the kitchen floor or the mornings they collapsed on the couch in such a state of devastation that they didn't even pause for a moment to grab a tissue. Through the tear flooded eyes the box would have been too difficult to find anyway. So the emotionally distraught simply soaks the cushions and hopes the mascara marks can be removed with a little upholstery cleaner. This problem - the mascara problem - is one that devastated men don't contend with. Crying, on the other hand, is a phenomenon in which I don't believe they are immune.
But let's get real. I mean real, real. Not Facebook photo real but sobbing on the bathroom floor real.
I breakdown. There, I said it. I'm emotionally unstable. There are days I want to curl up in the fetal position and be carried away to Heaven like Enoch, one of Hebrews' members in the Faith Hall of Fame.
I've cried so hard I've choked. I've been so irrational that I've kicked things in my anger and frustration. When my Mom has tried to comfort me in the midst of my distress I've had every possible reaction. Sometimes I've pushed away her hugs while in other moments I've collapsed into her with every ounce of my little frail body.
Why these breakdowns? What sets them off?
Sickness. Six years of suffering. Sadness over how stuck I feel. Anger over how little (read: nonexistent) the change in my circumstances. Frustration over trying new therapies, remedies and medicines only to be let down...again. Disgust over the protruding bones in my body. Hatred for the numbers on the scale that won't budge. Hopelessness for any future outside of this malnourished, weak, ailing body.
All of these thoughts (and more) pile on and crush me. I collapse under the weight of them and end up prostrate on the floor or the couch or my bed with no will to rise. In those moments of desperation all I can do is cry and curse.
No, this isn't flattering. But it's real. This is real life. Breakdowns happen. Crying happens. Staining the couch cushions with tears and mascara happens. And it isn't pretty.
But the breakdown isn't the end of the story. After every breakdown I have gotten back up again and found my footing. At some point in between sobs and gasps for breath a new cry of the heart emerges. A cry for God to rescue me.
I'll be honest, I don't always know what that rescue will look like in reality. All I know is that my only hope to get up off the ground and face the day is for God to do it in and through me. So that's where I go. I take my heart to the foot of His throne and ask Him to pick it up and carry it because I can't.
I've done this so many times it's a miracle God hasn't thrown me out of His sanctuary! If I were Him I'd be exhausted by my breakdowns, pathetic sobs and tear soaked cries for help. But He never grows weary of helping me. He never fails to pick me up. He never tells me that this time around I'm on my own. He always meets my need, brings me to my feet and dusts me off so that I can face another day.
And, unbeknownst to me, He's been doing something even more miraculous than the rescue. He's been building my strength before the breakdown. When I used to collapse in tears I'm finding that I'm soldiering on instead. And today was my Neil Armstrong moment. My one giant leap. I became overwhelmed by an impending breakdown. This time it came in the form of disgust with my body and the shockingly small frame I have inhabited for a shockingly long period of time. The weight of that sorrow felt heavier than my bodyweight tripled in size. For a moment my emotions teetered on the brink of a breakdown. And then a strength rose up where tears would have once cascaded out of my crushed soul. Resilience, hope and renewal lifted me up at the exact moment grief once would have taken me down.
The breakdown breakthrough didn't happen overnight. It has taken God years of picking me up and letting me fall down again to build the muscle that doesn't succumb to every emotional instability. But He's been at work. He is still at work. Behind the scenes, God is diligently building the muscle in my spirit that stays strong through the overwhelming pressure of an impending breakdown. The steps to strength are slow but God is faithful. And today He is celebrating with me in my one giant leap towards steadier, stronger faith in His goodness and grace.

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