Each day brings it’s own struggles and some days seem to bring more than others. When you’re going through a particularly hard season, there will be stretches of time that are riddled with stress and feelings of being completely overwhelmed, and happiness is contingent on present circumstances. There will be times when you feel as if you just can’t take it anymore. That you’ve reached the end of your rope. That you don’t have the strength to go on fighting or dealing with things anymore. That you’ve reached rock bottom.
What is rock bottom, though? When do you really know you’ve been broken? I don’t know if it’s different for others, but as someone who has been truly broken twice in my life, this is where I found rock bottom.
When I had literally two choices. To end my life, or to seek help.
The first time it was either to end my life by continuing to drink or to get over my shame and guilt and to seek help. I knew my body was failing me and that I was on the verge of losing everything, but my shame and guilt wanted to pull me in closer. To just let it take me away. But there was still that small glimmer…like drowning in a sea so dark that, when you look up, all you can see is a small flickering light from the sun dancing on the surface…beckoning you to come up for air.
The second time was rather recently. I could either give in and give up again. I could throw away everything I had worked for, everything that had been given to me, everything that I believed in and throw away my life. Or, I could ask for help and again, set aside my guilt and shame. I chose the latter…obviously, since I’m here writing to you. It wasn’t an easy choice and I came dangerously close to choosing the former.
Hitting rock bottom isn’t something that you will recognize until you’re truly broken. You may think you’ve hit bottom many times as your emotions rage and your selfish desires try to convince you that you’re in the right. Rock bottom is when you have nothing of yourself left to go on…nothing but one last request. Either end it, or ask for help. Notice how I didn’t say end it, or get up/pull yourself up/reach for a hand to pull you up….no. At rock bottom you don’t even have the ability to stand. You must remain there until you have the strength again to even lift your hand.
That’s where I am. I’m still laying on the rock. I’ve called out for help and aid has come, but I’m still resting on the rock. I don’t know how long I’ll be here but neither do I care. I’m in no hurry to get up and I learned from my last experience that it’s not something that can be rushed. Healing and strength will come in time and when it is best…otherwise the affects won’t be lasting, they won’t have a permanent hold on me. It’s the whole reason I hit bottom this time.
I had started my healing in this particular area but then I ran ahead. I lost sight of my course. I got in a hurry to get back in the race…then I slipped and didn’t notice the slippery slope ahead. That slope that led me straight back to where I was before and the person I was. The way I treated myself and others. The way I devalued my own life and how I put others higher than they should be. The way I expected so much of others and so little of myself.
I thought I was doing things right. That I was following the right path, grabbing the right hand and foot holds. That my life line was secure and that the safety net below was raised and ready. My hands had slipped many times as I thought I was climbing and I reached many moments of exhaustion and frustration. It was those moments that I should have recognized as warning signs, though. Warnings that I was quickly running out of holds.
Then I fell. Hit bottom and I hit it hard!
Laying here, though, I learned a very important lesson….
Prayer is necessary. Faith is vital. Love is required. Above all of these though, faith must come first. It’s the prerequisite to hope and love.
Now these three remain – faith, hope and love… 1 Corinthians 13:13
Without faith, any attempts at obtaining or securing the other two will fail.
I thought I had faith. I was on a mission to be a prayer warrior, to allow God to show me my strengths and weaknesses. To have him change me and mold me into the person I was meant to be. I missed a step though. I rushed forward like a frantic princess warrior, brandishing her sword and screaming into battle with each prayer I threw out. Carrying all of the army with me and gathering more comrades along the way. But I dropped my faith.
Prayer is necessary. Necessary to grow relationships with those who care most for you and who you value above yourself. (God being at the top of that list.) But prayer is only accomplished through faith. Faith to let go. When we pray, we are meant to present our requests, our plights, our praises to God. Then….this is where I messed up…you leave them there. At the foot of the cross. Not tuck them inside your “prayer folder” or display them on your crown, or go back through them to make sure you remembered everything or to make sure you prayed “correctly” and if it needs editing later.
No. Prayer is meant to be left. Not carried along to the next kneeling spot.
I had weighed myself down so immensely that I didn’t realize I was going backwards instead of forward. I was losing myself and my identity. I was caring too much about what others thought and thought of me. I was relying on others to give me what only God could give me. I was placing more value on others and on things, rather than who I am and who I am in Christ. I was letting others dictate my value by how they treated me or spoke to me rather than knowing my value and standing firm and confident in it. I was holding on to things that I wasn’t meant to hold on to.
So, this is what you do when you hit rock bottom and you’re laying there. One…realize that the rock you’re on is God. Two…lose the pounds. Let go of the stuff that isn’t yours and hand it over to God. Three…Pray. Talk to the rock. Talk to God. Give over the things that are bothering you and let him take care of it. And four…when it’s time (and you’ll know when it’s time) sit up and continue doing steps 1-3. The most important thing, though, is to be you and who you are is found in God, it is found in Christ and it is found in yourself. It’s not found in others, it’s not found in your job, it’s not found in your possessions. You were you long before those things came along and you will still be you if all of those are taken away! Don’t let the problems of other people weigh you down. It’s not yours to carry, it’s God’s. How others see you is not the truth. The truth is found in God and in his love for you and in the purpose he has made you for.
There are many other little steps that fall within those 3, but they are all unique to each individual. But it’s vital to stay on the rock, to let go of the things you can’t and shouldn’t be controlling or holding on to, and to become who God purposed you for.
“Take from me all that hinders and teach me to accept in its place all that You accept: The ceaseless demands, needs, conflicts, pressures, misunderstandings, even of those who love You best.” -unknown
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
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