“When everything seems like it’s falling apart that’s when God is putting things together just the way He wants it” – Unknown
Approximately one year ago, we experienced a 6.0 earthquake in Napa county. It was quite a jolting experience, occurring at approximately three o’clock in the morning. I remember being abruptly awakened by the shaking as I lied in my bed for a second, thinking it was going to come to an end, but that seemed to never happen. It became increasingly more violent, so my first response was to check on my kids as the house felt like it was about to come apart. My youngest (ten years old) was amazingly fast asleep (truly a lesson in that), my middle child (fourteen years old) was awake wondering what had happened and my oldest (seventeen years old) was downstairs watching TV, (why she was up at that time is another story) screaming as she witnessed all of the dishes and glassware being thrown from our kitchen cabinets to the floor below. As I calmed her down and tried to explain that our house wasn’t being possessed by an evil spirit, she finally realized that we had an earthquake. It was a first-time experience (at this magnitude) for us all, and I was thankful that we all escaped without injury.
After I had a chance to reflect on what just occurred over the next few days and viewed the damage around the house I thought about the steps I took in the midst of the storm (so to speak) to bring myself and my family to safety. Although I didn’t panic, I’ll admit that I was petrified as I my house violently shook beneath me. I am typically a calm individual with a level head and during a crisis I’d always proclaim that I would be the one to hold it together and make smart decisions while things seem to be falling apart around me. During this particular circumstance I did just that, but that has not always been the case and for many of us it is still not.
How is it that seemingly strong and well put-together adults resort to adolescent or immature behavior during trials and tribulations? Why is that we fall apart, lose our cool and disposition when things don’t go as planned in our lives? In that time I often wonder where is that place of peace or center that we rely on to bring us through? If it’s God, do we feel as if He has left us during this time? If it’s a creed we live by, where did it go as the seams are unraveling in our professed belief system? What is a fact of life, is we truly don’t discover what we really believe until our professed values, life tenets or positional creeds are brought to a place of challenge and testing. Until are ideologies are called to the carpet we honestly don’t know how much of what we profess to believe will actually stick until when we’re faced with a potentially life changing event. Take it from me, it can be quite a humbling experience.
This is not to say your faith is inoperable, but your belief in your faith may be.
When I was teaching classes in my former church, I use to tell my students, “During a life tragedy you will discover the real you, if you don’t like what you have discovered, begin to make the necessary adjustments through prayer with a commitment to doing the hard work.” For some it will seem as if you’re being introduced to your real selves for the very first time, where displacing shadows, illusive projections and blame-shifting are no longer sustainable or acceptable excuses to you or the ones involved. It’s a time when we are forced to face the ugly facts that we have hidden behind or the lies that have paved our way to what we may call success. Whatever the circumstances, it’s a time of realizing our truth and owning what we are truly made of.
Often, before things get better, they tend to look worse. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the circumstances actually are worse, but it can certainly feel as if they are. How we respond versus react during these times can prove to be a critical turning point in our lives. If we remain trapped in that place of self-victimization, others-centered blame or denial we will continue to set ourselves up for failure. A place that breeds fear, anxiousness and self-doubt, but once we are ready to face the music of our realities, the hard road that lies ahead of us can begin to be conquered. This attempt to conquer will undoubtedly require some form of support. One cannot expect to spend the majority of their life hurting themselves or others and then one day discover that their way of life was detrimental to their emotional health as well as others. This person is incapable of making better choices by themselves. So if this is you coming into that place, please don’t go it alone. Get some help!
As I mentioned in my “About Me” page, I professed to living my truth which was really a lie to myself, but I was in denial and not ready give up the benefits or advantages of living falsely. Once that lie was exposed it was one of the hardest things I had ever faced, but the key is I faced it. As the world that I knew was crumbling before my eyes, something magnificent was happening to me concurrently inside. Since the metaphoric rocks that I stood on were now gone, there was only the real me left standing in brokenness. The man who was initially ashamed, embarrassed and felt that he had let the whole world down had to begin to start anew. So that is what I did.
One day at a time I begin to rebuild my life and live in real truth. Under the advisement of some wise people, the things that I could repair with sincere apologies, I did with humility. The ones that weren’t that easy, I wrote letters to and released them into God’s hands. I then begin to counsel with some wonderful men. I was finally able to unfold the many layers of what made me, me. From the impacts of molestation, to the closing of my heart to anyone close to me, I discovered how getting to that place was inevitable without intervention. It was like building a house that was destined to fall, because it was built on an unstable foundation. The truly sad part is once you realize that the foundation is weak and you continue to build because of pride or some other excuse, justifiable only in your mind. But unfortunately that justification becomes enough to sustain an illusion until it’s not. For some that may be a lifetime. The longer it’s sustained the more difficult it becomes to release, because the lie becomes a crutch to our very existence. The cover-up has to remain intact in order for us remain relevant in our world, or at least that’s the illusion we have.
So what are you holding in or holding on to? Don’t wait for the walls to crash in on you before you confess and profess a new direction. At first it will seem like the hardest thing you have ever done (actually it probably will be), but the rewards are enriching and can have life-lasting effects for you and the ones you love, or have yet to love. There is no circumstance too large or too small. If it has the potential to create a divide or wedge with others, it will ultimately cause significant damage.
We cannot predict when a tragedy will hit us. Whether a climatic event like an earthquake, loss of a loved one through death or divorce, or the impacts of abuse against us. Our instincts are to go into some form of survival mode, and unfortunately if there is a handbook to how we should respond to these events, we typically don’t have access to it nor would we seek it out while in the midst of the battle. What we are certain to discover at some point along the way is how effective the tools we chose to use worked, or not. When things fall apart, it becomes easy to see what is truth versus what is not. It becomes obvious what areas of our lives don’t work. No one will have to preach to us any longer that we need help, but it still our choice to rise from the ashes of our brokenness and start over. It may seem as if life is over at that point, but really it is only beginning, for your life is a life that is worthy of living and full of attributes that will enrich you and every person that you touch with your voice and experiences.