This article was originally written in January of 2012 for Our Witness, a website that highlights personal testimonies of Christians all over the world. Thank you for reading!
Recently, my husband and I had our first encounter with serious repairs to our apartment. Ever since the first time it rained while we were living on our own, we’ve been dealing with leaks here and there in our office. There was even an incident when I noticed a leak above my computer desk right before we were about to leave for a meeting. If we had left just a few minutes sooner, my keyboard might have been soaked by the time we returned home and that would have been a whole other problem.
Even though the leak was apparent in three different spots, it was all caused by the same source. Patch work time and again just didn’t fix the problem, and our ceiling was only getting worse. This most recent leak was also the most damaging as water started seeping through the walls. We practically demanded management come and see for themselves what the problem was and repair it for good. Instead, we got a knock on the door by the same maintenance men who had been “fixing” this leak for the past year or so. Great.
To my surprise, they took the time to truly investigate the roof and noticed a huge pool of water collecting where it was supposed to be draining. I’ll never forget the look on their faces when they saw how horrendous the problem truly was. Within a week- and several repair visits by different people- they were finally able to open the ceiling, remove the damaged drywall, patch things up, and apply a fresh coat of “this is kind of a white color” paint. Let’s pray this holds.
This incident made me think of a few parallels in the spiritual context that deal with similar issues. I am truly guilty of trying to band-aid a situation because the problem area is too messy to handle. A few years ago my family was experiencing a lot of tragedies all at once, and this drove me to be outside of my home as much as possible. I identified with my work and friends more than anything else. My life was very full-to the point where I barely saw my family members and I was okay with that. The less I talked to them, the less I had to come face to face with the issues at hand and that was my way of keeping the peace and being a grown up. However, avoidance and living at peace with everyone are two very different things.
“If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12: 18)
If you know anything about trying to run from something that’s a part of you, you can agree it doesn’t work. The speed at which you run doesn’t make this thing budge any more than if you had just stood still. I can see this now, but when I was going through it, I didn’t understand why I was never satisfied with anything. I never had enough money, enough friends, enough work to do and it sucked. Sometimes, the best days for me were when I was busy from sunrise to late at night and I could just crawl into my bed, eat beef flavored ramen,and watch America’s Next Top Model in peace and quiet because everyone was already asleep.
I had a feeling of despair and displacement that I had caused, but I thought it was normal to be this way as a twenty-something-year-old working adult longing for companionship. For someone with many friends, I had the most shallow relationships you could ever believe. At this point I was so fed up with avoiding everything and hiding my personal life that I just broke down crying at work and ran outside to compose myself. Oh my God, there were so many cracks in me!
“In my distress I called upon the LORD, Yes, I cried to my God; And from His temple He heard my voice, And my cry for help came into His ears.” (2 Samuel 22:7)
I really had no idea how to recover from this: two of my worlds just collided and there was no Men In Black neutralizer to flash in front of my coworkers’ faces and make them forget. Unexpectedly, my life went on as usual and I survived, so I decided to step a little deeper into this unknown territory and bring it to my other areas of life. Soon after, a friend I barely knew asked me how I was doing. I inquired, “Do you really want to know?” And he replied, “Yes.” That was how the transition happened with a lot of my closest friends now. After realizing that my terrible situation was quite ordinary, I no longer felt a burden to hide. The more I talked to people and really listened, I discovered-sadly-that there is almost no one who hasn’t been dramatically affected by death, abuse, suicide, prison, poverty, etc. This is the world we live in, but there is rest for His children if we give the problems to our Father.
“Cast your burden upon the LORD, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” (Psalm 55:22)
By taking these outside experiences into my home, I felt relatable to my family again. I could let them be a part of my life and allow myself to be a part of theirs. I could be honest with my mom that I was struggling. One time she found me counting change in my room trying to gather enough coins to pay my car note. I was too embarrassed to ask her for help and I knew the household was going through financial issues as well. Without so much as a lecture, she and my step-dad worked things around so they could lend me what I needed. This selfless act defeated the pride that was suffocating me. I also found compassion for my siblings. Instead of trying to steer our conversations into how they should change, I was able to lay my judgements down and have a decent conversation with them. During this time, my husband found me, which ironically helped me to finally talk to my Dad after a seven-year silence.
The Lord healed me in all of these areas by allowing one simple breakthrough in the source of my pain. There was a hole in our ceiling just as there was a hole where my heart was. If the repairmen never opened up our ceiling, they wouldn’t have found the problem in order to fix it. In the same way, if the Lord never exposed my facade, I wouldn’t have discovered how to begin my healing. I thank God Himself for His peace and I thank Him also for family and friends who understand and are willing to listen when my heart aches.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)