When my father was sick, everyday was really hard. Really, really hard.
It was my final year of university. I was studying in the faculty of architecture, immersed in my studies, pushing forward to accomplish the feat before me. I was pursuing a vision I had for my life. The path was laid out before me. I would slay the deadlines, crush the presentations, and graduate in the spring. A career was waiting for me. I loved the vision – late nights at the office overlooking the city, a fancy condo downtown, fancy dinners, fancy car, fancy friends.
I had recently ended a five-year relationship with my best friend. We were high school sweethearts. We were inseparable, and everyone saw our future as certain. We did too. But it eventually inseparable was not “cute” anymore. Inseparable was not healthy. Inseparable was actually co-dependency masquerading as romance. It was a constant string of back-and-forth self-pity, guilt-trips, emotional manipulation. Inseparable became an unspoken competition between the two of us. The winner was the one who needed the other more, the bigger victim, the one who needed to be rescued by the other.
I wasn’t sure how I was going to get on by myself in the world, but I was happy to have the opportunity. It was my time to do what I wanted without having to answer to anyone, without having to worry they would feel sad and abandoned if I went out on my own. This was going to be a time of freedom, a time to finally find myself. I found Jesus instead.
Over the following months, I would be broken down by failed relationships, friendships, emotional and physical burnout, the silent chaos which was home, and my father’s decline into the final stages of pancreatic cancer.
Naturally, I pretended that I had it all together. I needed to be there for my family. I needed to be there for me. It had always been difficult for me to be vulnerable enough with others to share my pain, and this time was no exception. When asked how I was doing, I had a go-to response. “I’m okay.” Maybe I was trying to convince myself, too. But it didn’t work for me; It only worked to convince everyone else, and keep me in isolation, keep me lonely.
I was more alone than I ever had been in my entire life. And yet, I wasn’t. A small miracle, in the form of a chance meeting that wasn’t really chance, would open up my heart to God, whom I had been running from for many years. The God I had convinced myself was angry with me, out to punish me for my wrong-doings, would become my Comforter and my Companion.
Pretending to have it all together when I didn’t would eventually wear me down.
I was broken. But broken turned into a blessing.
He was there to listen, and was waiting to show me a life so much better than the bullsh** vision I thought I had wanted – The one I allowed the world to convince me I wanted.
I am still learning where this new life will lead me. So far, I have learned that I have gifts far beyond the skills and talents I had always been convinced were the most important. Above all, I learned about selfless love, and I learned about compassion. I am beyond thankful for these gifts, and truly believe they will be instrumental in the future I have before me.
By no means do I think I have it all together, though many years have passed. But, looking back, I can see that because I was broken, I became more whole than I ever had been before. Because I was broken, I have been able to get it together far more than I ever dreamed possible. And this is just the beginning.
If you are going through a difficult season, take heart – These seasons are when growth and healing happen. Breakdowns can happen as well. But, these can be a new beginning for you, too.
Photo credit: unsplash-logokevin laminto