Usually for my “musical meditations” I just post a song and a few, brief thoughts. But I have more than a few thoughts today. I’ve been inspired to “give up” secular music for Lent and have been listening only to the contemporary Christian station, and whenever this song The Hurt and the Healer by MercyMe comes on, it hits close to home.
It calls to mind two quotes I’ve heard in the past year, which have also struck right at my core as I’ve been going through the divorce process:
“You’ll never know that God is all you need until God is all you have.”
“You’ll never have a balanced life as long as you’re ‘managing’ your unbalanced life.”
When I first heard these two statements (thankfully, not on the same day!), I felt convicted. I grew up in a family that practiced thrift and “paying yourself first” so that we’d never be in a place financially where God is all we had. The idea of “hitting bottom,” whether financially or emotionally, was something to be staved off and prevented at all costs, and the way you staved off the bottom was by “managing” as best you could. Surrender didn’t appear to be an option (though I suspect, through my child’s eyes, I didn’t always see the surrendering that my mom and dad were probably doing on a daily basis).
Lately, lots of people have made comments on how well I’m “managing” as a single mom, trying to make ends meet with self-employment, juggling child-rearing, housekeeping, bill paying. I’ll admit, I seem to do a pretty good job of holding it together for the rest of the world to see. But truthfully, my life is not sunshine and lollipops. It is hard work, and it would not be possible without the grace of God at work in my life, and in the lives of my kids, my clients, my extended family, and most importantly, in the life of my children’s father.
Frankly, the idea that I’m “managing” kind of scares me, because I know that means I’m managing a life that is less than what God would have for me. Those times when I lose control, snap at the kids, miss a bill payment, or take a much-needed nap instead of working on a freelance project are the times when I can see just how unbalanced my life is. Those are the opportunities for me to surrender and let all my accounts go down to zero so that I can truly know that all I have is from God’s grace and not from my own efforts.
The divorce process strips us of the unbalanced life we’ve been attempting to manage. Some of us are stripped of time with our children, or the home we built together, or the financial resources we use to count on. We’re stripped of partnership and companionship and an ever-present source of comfort (even if we never availed ourselves of it). We’re also stripped of all the excuses, the person we used to blame for this or that. Mostly, we’re stripped of our dreams for the future, and stripped of all the fantasies and false beliefs that kept us “managing” for so long.
I’m not sure how anyone goes through this stripping process without God. An unbalanced life is still a life, and watching it die a slow, agonizing death is a grief that only those who’ve gone through it can truly understand. Sometimes it is exquisitely painful and scary, especially in those moments when we doubt or we don’t understand why it is happening. One could waste days, weeks, or years of life trying to “hold it all together.” Because I have a God, I don’t have to do that. I can let all the shards of a broken life and a broken marriage, all my shame and guilt and pain and fear and sadness, just sit there on the floor. I don’t have to sweep them under the rug. I don’t have to pick them up and try to glue them back together. I don’t have to make sense of the mess. I can simply surrender and ask God for a new life. Not just any new life. The life that He would have me live.
Today’s a good day. I have lots of work keeping me busy, the kids are well, and I have the support of my friends and family to sustain me when I’m weak. But please don’t think I’m managing. If I were managing, there would be far more hurt and pain than there already is. I’d be using those shards on the floor as weapons. I’ve done it once or twice as it is. No, I’m not managing. God is.