Monday, November 5, 2012

My Drowning Experience

This weekend at the Women of Faith conference I received a copy of Sheila Walsh's new book God Loves Broken People (And Those Who Pretend They're Not) as a gift from a new friend. I started reading the book and one of the things that Sheila talks about in the first chapter is how we go through periods of life where we feel like we are drowning. We are waving and waving, waiting for someone to notice that we struggling, but the people who see just wave back and walk on. One of the things that she asked us to do is to write down our own drowning experiences. I decided to share mine with you so that you will see that if you feel like you are drowning in the circumstances of life you are not the only one.

My drowning experience started five years ago, and honestly on most days I still feel like I am drowning. The first wave that hit me was closing my daycare center. Opening my own child care center was a dream come true and I worked hard to make it come true and was very successful at first so deciding to close the center was a difficult decision. The second wave that hit was a much larger wave and it close behind the first one. I had fallen in love and I thought he loved me too and that we were going to get married. One weekend he was asking me to marry him. The next weekend he was breaking up with me, and the weekend after that he was engaged to someone else. This sent me into a long period of depression and struggle in my relationship with the Lord. A third wave shortly followed and while not as big as the second it left me doubting myself. I was accused of something that I didn't do at work and even though I was found innocent in the investigation I still lost my job. I spent the next year struggling with depression and self-doubt plus I was experiencing financial difficulties because I was unable to sell the building that my child care center was in. 

After a while the sea of my life smoothed out for a while, but I still felt like I was struggling, barely treading water. I moved in with my parents for a while. They lost their jobs and their house with it. Then we moved to Kansas City which is something I didn't want to do. While living with my parents, I had started grad school and was working on my Master's degree. After moving to Kansas City, I got a job full-time and was in school full time. Then for the first time ever I failed a class. My studies were one of the few things that I took pride in. I never failed. I was always at the top of the class. Shortly after that I lost my job again and for once again it was for something that I didn't do. Then my grandma ended up in the hospital. After I was finished caring for my grandmother, my sister fell and broke her leg. After she was well enough to get around and take care of her family, I became extremely sick. 

After I recovered, things smoothed out again for a while. I got another job and really enjoyed my work. After four months, I received a promotion, but then the wave started hitting again. I was teaching preschool, but I was teaching children who had been very traumatized in one way or another. I was dealing with their behaviors and I was taking stuff home with me. I was working about 80 hours per week but was only getting paid for about 50 of those hours. Because of the behaviors in the classroom, I had to take all of my paperwork home with me. I started having problems sleeping. I stopped eating. I lost 25 pounds in 1 month. I was suffering from something called compassion fatigue, also known as secondary post-traumatic stress disorder. When things settled down in the classroom, I struggled to recover. I went to counseling, but the waves didn't stop. Since November 2011,  about 15 of my family members, friends, and acquaintances have passed away including my grandfather and two of my cousins, one who was only 24 years old and the other one was only three weeks older than me. 

During this time, I have made some bad decisions in a relationship that should never have been more than friendship. I ended up pregnant, and I ended up miscarrying the baby. I found out that I have a condition that will make it hard for me to ever have a baby. Things started to go wrong at work. I ended up quitting my job because I was just done and decided to change careers. Now I am still looking for work, struggling to find myself again and my purpose and calling. I am struggling financially, physically, and emotionally. Most of the time I feel like I am barely able to keep my head above the water. 

But one of the things that the Lord has been bringing home to me in the last few months is that He has always been there, that He can use all of this for His glory, and that He wants me to not just tread water, but to soar. Like the surfer in the photo depends on his board to carry him safely to the shore, the Lord wants to be my surfboard and wants to carry me through the waves of this life. I am tethered to Him like many surfers tether themselves to their boards so that even if knocked off coarse I cannot be separated from Him. See the Lord doesn't promise that we will never face the waves. In fact, He promises the opposite, but He also promises that He will carry us through the waves and see us safely to the shore.

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