when God leads you off a cliff

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

photo by the very talented Jesse

I really like guacamole.

And raspberries.  Iced green tea, blues and purples, riding my bike, Imagine Dragons, colorful tattoos, romaine lettuce over iceburg.  This scene is my favorite from any tv show in the past year, and this song captures an emotion I can't quite put into words.  

It's hardly worth reporting, right?  I like green tea.  We all have favorite songs.  Who cares.  

I care.  Six months ago, I did not have a favorite ... anything.  Trying new foods was not on my radar, nor was finding a new show on Netflix or reading a new book.  Six months ago, I was just surviving.  

Survival commands all of your mental and emotional energy.  For two years I felt almost nothing.  Anxiety acted as an epidural in my life:  I could feel pressure, a weight on my chest that gripped and loosened but was always present, while the emotional muscles I needed to conquer it were deadened.  Instinct alone catapulted me in a direction I could hardly understand, and certainly could not articulate.  It felt as though it would never end, and I could not imagine what life would be like on the other side.  Nor could I have stopped it, snapped out of it somehow.  It had to happen, and I had to let it.  

And now it's over.

A few key moments birthed my entrance into a new, more normal life.  Moving was the catalyst.  Letting go mattered, as did finding a healing place of worship.  My husband and I talked extensively, and our conversations helped us remember who we are, individually and as a couple.  It gave us a much-needed fresh perspective, a springboard for rebuilding our relationship.  In this new, more open context, I had room to grow and heal.  The fog lifted.  I felt like Maggie in Runaway Bride, tasting different types of eggs and deciding what she actually liked.  I often surprised myself.  Green tea?  Didn't I used to hate green tea?

I'm not who I used to be.  

It is tempting to downplay the experience from my current vantage point, and tell myself it wasn't as bad as all that.  But it was.  I am also tempted to look for an enemy, someone who kicked over the first domino, but that would oversimplify the picture and disregard my own contribution to it.  Some of my anxiety was rooted in brain chemistry; two babies in two years, with a toddler and preschooler already holding each hand, is a tall biological order.  While gestating, nursing, chasing, cajoling, and tucking in a lot of little kids, my husband and I were publicly failing before a religious community that leaves no room for missteps or uncertainty.  We had been convinced God was leading us down a certain road, but every attempt to follow was a dead end.  Our house wouldn't sell, he couldn't find a job, the relationships never fell into the natural rhythm we expected.  The harder we worked to do what we earnestly believed God wanted us to do, the more the noose tightened, and our marriage fell apart.  At the same time, a lifelong friend deceived me in a big way, adding to my disillusionment.  And my mother was attacked, her injuries shifting our relationship permanently.  It was a perfect storm, and I thought it would destroy me.  But not all wounds are fatal.

As we heal, my husband most struggles with God's role in our experience.  He feels as though we were led off a cliff.  "If I treated you that way," he asks, "What would you do?"  "I would leave," I always say.  That is precisely his point.  How does anyone ever trust a God like that again?

But I see it as grace.  

I hardly recognize the people we were before this experience.  I love my life now.  The mountains, the faith tradition, a more open and accepting culture, more opportunities for my children.  I also love my marriage now - we are us again, in a way that was always going to be impossible in our former life.  Though it felt like free falling, I now think of the experience as God redirecting our lives, just as an engineer might reroute a river.  At first the water is dammed, and the pressure of the current pushing against that wall is astounding.  But in time a new path is dug, and the river moves freely in a better direction.  I thank God for the new flow of our lives.

And I thank Him I can taste raspberries and guacamole again.


  1. Wow. I wrote a long and thoughtful comment which Blogger ate again. Argh! Impossible to reproduce, but in short...
    Your words are beautiful and encouraging... Your husband brings up points that I struggle with too.
    Thank you for sharing your heart and the experience of struggle and survival slowly shifting back to a fuller life.

  2. Keep writing Dear one ... you are continually blessing me with your words. Your words matter. Ann

  3. lovely perspective

  4. Wow, im not totally sure to specific s which you refer to, but so much of this describes me a year ago. Amazing to read. Thankyou for writing.



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