From The Inside Out

Having a broken laptop the week of finals is probably one of the worst things that could happen during dead week. Not only could I not do homework but I couldn’t record my thoughts fast enough to capture anything on paper actually worth sharing. I was left computerless the last couple days and felt anxiety for the first time since my medication has stabilized. With finals right around the corner and no laptop to get assignments done, the tingle of an anxiety attack began. I noticed it right away and immediately began calming myself down with music and familiar scriptures. The attack didn’t come fully but the tingle kept trying to overtake my soul. I didn’t let it win.

I did however, toss and turn late into the night and wake up at 6 am feeling anxious. I continued to toss and turn until about noon and even then didn’t feel like I had slept at all. That whole afternoon was devoted to catching up and doing homework and I eventually felt peace creep back into my body and I could breathe normally.

It’s an interesting thing, feeling your body destroying itself from the inside out while you stand back and watch, holding hands with your peaceful soul. It is so heartbreaking watching your body go through such intense battles. Yet at the same time, something tells me this is how it’s supposed to be; this is what dying to yourself looks like. It’s painful. It’s brutal. The destruction is more than I can carry on my own yet I am okay. Being separated from your body is one of the strangest things I’ve ever experienced. This distinct separation of soul and body is a new thing in my life and probably one of the greatest things in my life. My soul has been victorious for quite some time now but my body has begun fighting back using finals as its main weapon. Thank goodness God is fighting this battle for me and providing the peace I need to shelter the war going on inside of me.

On Thursday, two days after my laptop died, God became so intimate and real to me in a moment of heartbreak. I had stupidly decided to give a second chance to someone I shouldn’t have. That week of supposed change and starting over was one of confusion and knowing I was disobeying God by putting a person before Him. I hadn’t let God finish working in me completely before deciding to try doing things on my own again. I had thought this person was reliable but looking back, I realize that person was my main source of anxiety wrapped in a disguise that looked appealing to the eye. My soul had been unusually quiet and I ignored the warning signs. Thursday night rolled around and I decided to voice some of my concerns. The response I received at first was one filled with a desire to work harder and more promises of change. Before, I would’ve believed it and allowed myself to continue being the doormat but something inside of me refused to believe the words and I’m so thankful that part of me stayed strong. After an hour and a half apart, we came back together to chat and the response now was one filled with reasons why I was the bad person. I sat and listened to all of the ways I was making their life harder and felt my heart began to shatter once more as I watched this source of anxiety abandon me for the second time. Walking outside and finding my favorite bench was the only thing I could think to do. The tears came for the first time in weeks and began as tears of pain and confusion. I began talking out loud to my savior right there by the water, asking questions, apologizing for once again putting Him second, apologizing for all the things I had done wrong, questioning my worth, expressing frustration for being so stupid and let the tears flow. Yet through all of this, there was a quiet hum of peace deep in my soul. It felt like someone had hit the mute button inside of me and I was suddenly enveloped in a stillness that made me sit up straight. I suddenly realized God was sitting right next to me on the bench with His loving arm around me, speaking back to me in a way that I could hear loud and clear. I’ll never forget these loving words:

My child, I will not say I told you so. I will not be angry. I am not going to walk away from you even though he did. I will not walk away from you even though you have walked away from me. I am not here to condemn you. Even though you weren’t pursued the way your heart desired, I am still here pursuing you. I have not and will never stop chasing you. Wait for a man to pursue you like I do. Will you trust that I have something so much greater for you planned? Will you let me alone love you and be your source of affection? I died for you even while you were walking away from me and I would do it all over again, even if you were the only person I was giving my life for. I love you.

The pain evaporated immediately and I was humbled. What could I possibly say? Sorry doesn’t begin to cover the sorrow I felt for walking away from the God who loved and still loves me this much. The most amazing part was not once did I feel shamed or condemned. I felt truly sorry and sincerely wanted to let things be different – and they have been. Once the peace had filled every crack made on my heart, I walked back home and waited. The person who had abandoned me twice now came down the stairs and was surprised to see me. I felt no hatred, no resentment, no bitterness. I felt nothing but grace after being so humbled by my Father. I simply asked if I could walk with him to where he was headed. As we walked, I apologized for the wrong I had done, thanked him for the rare good moments, and forgave without asking for an apology. When we arrived at the destination, I asked to pray for him right there. The commandments of Jesus to love our enemies has never been more real to me as I stood with my hand on the arm of someone who had tried to destroy me and prayed for their well being and genuinely meant it. As soon as I said amen, I looked him in the eye, smiled, and said goodbye. I walked away feeling liberated and knew my God was holding my hand and smiling. Now there was nothing standing between Him and me. The tears cried the rest of the night were not ones of pain or ones of shame but tears of joy and being overwhelmed by the great love I felt and still feel. It’s been two days and I feel nothing but love from and for my savior. He is so intimately close to me now that there is nothing standing in His way and I have never felt so humbled. How lucky am I to have a God willing to pursue me so intimately.

Even though my body is still trying to destroy itself, my God is healing me from the inside out. It is still well with my soul; that has never been in doubt or questioned. There are moments when the cracks look bigger than they actually are on my heart but I look to my God and see that He is so much bigger than they’ll ever be. There are still moments when my mind races to the person that hurt me but God takes my mind and leads me back to the cross where He thought of me as He stretched His arms and took His final breath. There are still moments when my physical body is so weak and my eyelids droop but God simply holds me and allows me to rest.

Knowing He loves me is the only thing that is keeping me going. There was a time in my life where I didn’t believe that that was enough. How silly of me to put God in such a small box. Now that the lid is off, God’s love is more than enough. Not only is He all I need but He is also all I want. His love is my greatest desire tied with my desire to love Him back. For most of my prayer life, it has consisted of saying, “I love you, God”, but God is teaching me to simply smile and say, “I love you too” instead. What a savior.

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