“Blows that wound cleanse away evil; strokes make clean the innermost parts.” -Proverbs 20:30-
I’ve been fighting with our internet for the past five days. By fighting I mean sitting here and watching that twirling circle spin around and around, finally stop, but only to leave it at a blank white page. When I’d go to my phone to find the draft there, again, nothing but the picture and a white blank page. After finally deciding I’d had enough, today I’m back on my phone after saying to the post, “Fine. I won’t write that one then.”
This feels like a season of God binding me up. If you could see me right now, I truly, truly think you’d be shocked. If you’ve ever seen those pictures where people are laying in bed covered head to toe in bandages with an arm and leg elevated and suspended in whatever those things are that hold up the limbs, that’s what it looked like. It’s getting better. I’m no longer bound to my bed and my leg is no longer suspended in mid-air. Now I just look like a walking mummy.
After a little over seven months, I resumed my place as the regular family grocery shopper person. Someone comes with me to push the cart, and I noticed I can now help load and unload the food from the cart to the check out and from the cart to the van without feeling uncomfortable. I still don’t lift or carry anything over the size of a green beans can and occasionally, a bag of apples.
Apparently healing from brokenness or sickness or trauma can also be, in a way, traumatic. I want to be grateful, and I truly am, but even writing those past three paragraphs hurt. And even in this one, it’s hurting again. But I’m also at peace with whatever this is. For it would hurt even more, yes, profoundly more if I didn’t say it.
A couple of years ago my husband and kids gave me some Old Navy navy blue, polka-dotted, one-piece pajamas for my birthday. I had said something at one point about wanting pajamas. They had a material and texture similar to long underwear. They were soft and made of 100% cotton. I distinctly remember the first night I wore them, laying in bed and feeling different. It felt like I was contained and whole. There was no unbuttoning of the button-up top to allow my nursing infant to feed. There was no designed way for them to be easily slipped off.
Besides being cold and a hassle to go to the bathroom with, I really, really loved those pajamas. I bring them up because something I read months ago in Peter Levine’s book Healing Trauma made me think of those one-piece pajamas. One of the first exercises he has in his book is to form a boundary around your body with string. The idea was to take the yarn or string and identify where your boundary was, to see the line around you where if someone were to cross it, that is the point you’d no longer be okay.
I’m learning just how foreign this concept of boundaries has been for me. Like, this idea of being a whole and complete person who has their own space, their own voice, their own place, their own own self, and that it isn’t wrong to say that. I am baffled that there are people who seem to naturally grow up knowing this. The other day I read an Instagram post from Shannon Bonne, the former wife of former pastor Joshua Harris. She’s one of the people I have been following to listen as she works through her faith deconstruction. One post in particular really stood out to me:
“Dear women, your rights can get really confusing and lost in certain religious (and other) environments. Give your life away! Die to self! Contentment is great gain! Not my will but yours! The heart is deceitful above all else! O ye of little faith! Put away the flesh! The messages to ignore yourself may be so plentiful that you’ve forgotten it’s okay to be human or even how. Here’s a reminder compliments of my best counselor ever, Glenda. Your whole self has permission to be here.”
I cannot even tell you how much I get that. I also find it truly fascinating that this wasn’t just me, but was something other people experienced. “The complementary nature of the sexes, yes, appealed to my love for goodness and truth and beauty. I would’ve never been able to see this then, and here I can only now speak for myself, but I can also see how Biblical Womanhood appealed to my vanity, my desire to be desired above all else, to be crowned the wife of wives and mom of moms. I truly thought I was loving my family. I truly thought I was following God. I was doing whatever it was at the time to do whatever it was I thought I truly needed to do.
I could go on and on and on like this. But I think the point that I am trying to make, the mysterious place I am trying to get to, is that none of this truly even matters. I am thankful to God for who and where I am now, for he is The Consolation Prize, the only one who could ever truly save me.