It was 2004, and it was bad. As in, your life is a sinking hole of sewer scum. The toilet is still flushing with you in it, and you are going down the tubes faster than a rat up a drainpipe. Am I descriptive enough here? Let me explain it more clearly…
There was a second round of cockroaches scurrying about in my kitchen cabinets, at one point they wandered into my bedroom and met me in bed. Ya, gross! Never have I co-existed with roaches. The refrigerator had just gone out, and the food was spoiling quickly. The food I bought? I couldn’t even afford. I bought it on food stamps (thank God for those bad boys and the E.B.T card that came soon after so I didn’t have to pull out stamps to make a food purchase!).
That was just the warm-up intro to impress you. Let me continue…
I was in the middle of a divorce, bankrupt and 24. I was juggling cleaning houses, a part-time job working at a local group home while maintaining 18 college credits, and to keep the benefits of being on CalWORKS (a welfare program to help me get through college) I was working 10 hours a week in the welfare office filing paperwork. The “charming” little apartment I had picked didn’t have an a.c. unit and summer had settled in. My mental state was hanging on by a thin thread, and based on the previous five years; I had zero confidence in my ability to produce quality critical thinking. The best part of this entire situation is that I was the crazy mother of THE most precious 3-year-old ever.
“I’ll have a fridge to you by the end of the week,” said the landlord I had little faith in. I turned to my little one and with an audible sigh I said,
“How about you and mommy move this food into the ice chest?”.
Ironically my mom happened to be visiting from out of town and sitting on the couch. With each item from the fridge going into the ice chest, I couldn’t help but think of how difficult life was for me at this time. My mom’s presence sent me into a tailspin. The pity party began. I needed babying. Adulting was overrated.
What broken looks like…
Before I exploded and puked anger all over the living room, I sent myself to my bedroom in utter and complete frustration.
In a last desperate attempt to control my immediate surroundings, I had decided to take my boiling point to a God I hadn’t heard from nor showed interest in in a while.
“Dear God” “What the HELL is going on!? WHY is this shit mounting and not moving forward? Piece of $h*t!!! I can’t take it! I don’t have f*#&ing time for it! I am maxed out at every end. Emotionally drained and exhausted!!”.
I don’t think I ever audibly said one of those words. I couldn’t. I was so angry with my life that instead, I opted to bury my head in the pillow as I screamed for my life, “You, God, are my only hope.”
You might be thinking; I thought Christians weren’t supposed to use that kind of colorful language? Well, let me let you in on a little secret. Those rules are for other Christians. Not ones, like myself, suffering from the overindulgence of self-pity while their life slips from the grip of their fingertips.
Nearly 13 years have passed since that evening, but I have never forgotten. In that sad, slightly tiny bedroom was a desperate and afraid young woman who was fiercely fighting for a better life for her little family of two.
This, my friend, was a moment where all that was in me had reached a point of absolute defeat. Every direction I stepped, to create the change I needed, I was blocked.
It is this very desperate place we must reach to let go and surrender.
A place where we are not in control of a single thing. This place was just the beginning of a beautiful, life-long lesson that would serve to be the most rewarding of all.
A collection of desperate places. Rock bottom.
Who do you want to be? A whisper settled into my being.
That was the heaviness I carried with me that hot summer evening. With sad tears dripping down my cheeks, I knew I was given plenty of opportunities to create a life better than what I was living. Regrettably, I chose not to take them.
As a result, that evening as I sat quietly in my room, I found hope in what some would call an invisible God. I had been raised to take my problems to him. For the most part, those last few years, I didn’t think I had any that were out of my control; because the problems I had weren’t worth the sacrifice of living without the world’s acceptance. I knew following the God my family served would require a trade. So I carried my problems with me. While telling myself, they weren’t that bad. Settling for subpar standards. Negotiating the terms of my faith. Life has a funny way of breaking us.
Nothing changed that night except me. The fridge took weeks to get repaired; the roaches overstayed their welcome, and my schedule remained intensely hectic. But my heart was lighter. I wasn’t carrying the burdens anymore, at least not that day. God was. And I was learning what it was like to take it all to him. So I could be a better me and a better mom.
The truth of it is, brokenness leads to surrender and surrender leads to beauty and blessings. They can’t happen separately. You can’t truly be blessed without being broken.
Life serves up some powerful main courses, doesn’t it? What does your broken look like? Have you reached that place yet? If you have where did you find your hope?
Photo credit: stocksnap.io/photo/5C0B552746