Saturday, August 20, 2011

Cracks in the Armor

I've been thinking constantly about how to write *this* post for many days.  I want to write it because I've said all along I  believe in honesty and transparency.  Those were the requirements I had set for myself when I began blogging (1 post away from 200!---where has the time gone?).  However, I didn't want this post to come across as whining, complaining, or seem like I'm deep in depression.  So, I had kept putting it off.  I wasn't sure I could write the words and still get the meaning across.  I'm still not sure I will accomplish that, but I am absolutely still certain I'm meant to write it because each day the pulling of the Holy Spirit is stronger and stronger to do so.  This morning, I received just the right message of confirmation.

A few people had shared the same link on facebook and my father-in-law had posted it last.  I know that if he posts a video it must mean that he really likes it or that it has a significantly deep meaning to it.  Though I was still a bit groggy (had to take Tylenol PM late last night to manage some pain I'm dealing with at the moment), I clicked on the link.  I knew it would be emotional because the song was "I Can Only Imagine".  I've long been a fan of MercyMe and we got that CD the day it came out.  It became a song that meant so much to us as a family and then a few months later when Kevin's mother passed away, it became that MUCH more.  Adriana was adamant that it be played because she had already made such a connection to that song at age six.  She had a VERY wise soul, even when she was young. 

I watched the video this morning because I LOVE the song and I've always loved Wynnona.  I'm not much of a country music listener anymore, but she's always been one of my favorites.  Knowing she has had such a roller coaster life, I watched the video just to see how well she did with the song.  You can watch it here.

What I wasn't prepared for was the very emotional testimony she gave before she sang her version of the song with such pure emotion.  It was in her words that my heart found so much comfort.  When speaking of her roller coaster ride of life and her broken heartedness, she said her mother had told her this:

"Honey, let them see the brokenness.  Let them see the cracks in your armor.  That's how the light gets out."

She also talked about how there are times in our lives that we "know how to work, know how to get up in the morning.  But when the quiet stillness of the night comes you kind of sit there and go well, is this what it's all about." 

I admit that is where I have been so much lately.  I've been in that mode for quite awhile now.  I know how to get done each day what needs to get done to keep our family together and thriving, yet in those quiet times at night when the house is finally quiet and I can actually complete a thought process is when it is hard. 

Though I'm extremely open with my emotions when I blog, I admit that I REALLY hold back when things are going wrong or when I'm in those moments of doubt and struggle.  I don't want to come across as a "downer" so many times I just go silent.  That is what has happened on and off the last month or so.  I also don't want people to think I've slipped back into that depression that I fought so hard to come out of several years ago.  That's not it.  There is a HUGE difference between being emotionally overwhelmed and depressed. 

I constantly hear from people how they are amazed with how strong I am or how I've managed to keep going these last months, most especially from those that we've allowed to peak in at "everything".  What everyone else doesn't see is the rawness of emotions that I've been experiencing.  Granted, losing Dad has played a tremendous part in those emotions.  Yet, there is so much more.  My heart is very heavy and it seems to get more so every day. 

Between the different projects I'm working on and "ministry" opportunities lately, I've been exposed to such heavy burdens that people I care about are facing.  Family after family is being torn apart and stretched beyond belief as they are beginning to face cancer battles and medical battles.  Even a very dear family member has had such a scare.  Though hers was taken care of somewhat easily and her outcome is excellent, others we know are engaging in HUGE battles.  Battles that you can only understand when you've witnessed it first hand.  Though I can't discuss many of the very real battles going on right now, they are numerous and they are "heavy".  A dear friend of mine is being hit from every direction with heartache after just returning from a mission trip where she served God in very practical ways.  She then was hit with her own medical emergency that shook so many of us with deep worry.  We are facing some very uncertain times in our lives with some issues that I don't have permission to share out of privacy.  Many different ones.  More each day.  The weight is crushing.

It's just a very hard time right now.  I'm emotionally overwhelmed.  My armor is breaking and cracking.  I've done my best to hide it, but I've felt lately that I'm doing a disservice by doing so.  Hurt is REAL.  Loss hits deep and in ways we can't always imagine.  Abandonment and not measuring up creates scars that are hard to heal.  Marriages are crumbling every which direction I turn.  Those I love are turning their backs on the only real source of strength they know because they too have reached the point of hurt just taking too much out of them. 

I'm also overwhelmed as I am in the last days before I start school year number 10.  Some people say that is my own fault....just put the kids in "real" school and  I won't have that stress.  NOT HAPPENING.  God called me to this and I'm not going to back down when hit with a stressful time.  With Him, I am  capable of making another school year work and thrive.  It's just VERY overwhelming right now trying to balance everyone's needs and making countless decisions about how to proceed.  Once we get going and have some of the kinks worked out in regards to timing, that stress will reduce greatly. 

All in all, I'm just overwhelmed.  I'm in some very emotional times right now and I'm feeling daily breaks in that armor.  It's quite alarming to be honest.  I feel some of that strength that some of you talk about I have slipping.  It's terrifying. 

I'm confident that I will manage because I have no choice.  I will manage because I have a God that is stronger than any force coming against us. He is ahead of me fighting each and every battle.  I will manage because I have a support system that reaches in and picks me up when I'm at the point of not going on.  We all know people that say they care about you and we have those people that REALLY show it.  I'm thankful that God has blessed me with those that know how to show and reach me in places sometimes that I really didn't even know I needed. 

Though being in a place of armor cracking is uncomfortable, it's necessary.  It's necessary because this is where I'm finding where my strength ends and where God's begins.  That is the beautiful place.  It's the place where the sadness doesn't lead to depression.  It's where the sadness leads to healing.  It's the place where I have to surrender my will to His.  It's the place where I have to place my trust in everything He is leading us on and say I'm willing.  I'm willing to be the vessel with the cracked places.  It's those cracked places that bring me closer to Him.  It takes me out of my self and into His arms.  I'm not in my comfort zone right now and though it's very unnerving, it's also the best place to be.  I can't be molded into what He wants when I'm so "strong" and capable. 

Cracks in the armor may be painful.  Cracks in the armor may make us look less than perfect to the outside world.  Yet, to the one that matters most and the ones that know us and accept us unconditionally, they are beautiful.  It is in the cracks that light comes through.  It's where I'm finding who I really am, who I want to be and most importantly a step closer each day to the one I love the most.  I just might look a little frazzled these days, be a bit more emotional than normal, and might have the deer in the headlights look on my face.  It's OK.  Because I've learned when my strength ends, His begins.  Cracks in the armor just mean that I'm more willing to be fixed by the REAL potter and not a quick fix from whomever offers.  Though I may have puffy eyes these days and emotionally zapped, I do know where to turn!  I hope you have that same comfort when the storms of life shake you and put cracks in your armor! 

Just remember that we never really know what another person is facing.  They may exhibit incredible strength but be weighed down so heavily.  That person you encounter every day with the huge smile, may be breaking inside in ways we can't imagine.  I'm seeing that more every day with those I'm being blessed to minister with, especially through B90.  Just take the time to smile, pray and encourage.  We just truly never know how big of a difference it may make.  Their armor may be so cracked that it will break beyond repair if someone doesn't stop and show love.  We never know what happens to a person when we offer even the smallest gesture of hope.  I know it has meant so much to me when someone has done something "small" for me.  Even in very recent days, I received a card in the mail from a dear friend.   She will  never understand how much of a life-line that "simple" gesture was.  We never know what our heartfelt words can do for a person. 

Speaking of....I think I have a few cards of my own that need to be written.  I do believe I know what my next task today will be!  Not going to put if off any longer!  What about you?  Is there someone you need to encourage?  Don't delay!!!! 

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