Stuck In The Middle With You {My Story}

There was a time when I thought I was above any kind of crisis...much less a "mid-life crisis".

I hadn't yet learned that a mid-life crisis isn't about how old I am.  It has everything to do with how I handle dropping my plates.

A mid-life crisis has far less (almost nothing) to do with age, and far more to do with the fact that so very many, many people are aptly able to keep a whole lot of plates spinning for a whole lot of years...

...but no human being can keep that up indefinitely.  We just so happen to be about 45 or 50 when the breakage begins, because plates have an average life-spin-span of about 20-25 adult years.  Then a plate falls.  And it is a cherished and heirloom plate that ends up crashing, always.  And then the other plates just tend to start falling by themselves when...

...a child fails...
...a child succeeds...then leaves... get "that" diagnosis...
...a parent dies...
...a church splits...
...a dream dies...
...a husband is unfaithful...
...there is an ongoing health issue...
...we discover we no longer love being plate spinners.

The true-truth is that this sort of mess and calamity is no respecter of age or gender or socio-economic status.  I know an eighteen year old who is dealing with crippling regret.  Is this person having a teenage crisis?  I know a seventy-something person who is wildly unhappy.  Are they having a geriatric crisis?

Of course not.  "Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards", it says in the book of Job.

And so my plates started hitting the concrete almost the day I turned 40.  Seriously, I turned 40, and the next day I had to buy readers, and the day after that all hell broke loose.

I found myself wanting to fall asleep and in, never-ever...wake up.  I didn't think of ways I could end my life.  I just didn't want to wake up to my life.  I was camped out at what professionals will tell you is the lesser manifestation of suicidal depression.  I didn't feel this way for days...or weeks...or even months.  The months turned into a year, and then it all kept going.  Longer.  Longer still.

Healing began when I heard the Lord say to me, "When you wake up in the morning, I want you to do whatever you want to do.  Do whatever brings you joy."

This was a gut-wrenching challenge, because I was still home educating my youngest.  And he was barely on speaking terms with fractions and percents when he should have been best friends with Algebra II.  I was an epic fail, in my own estimation.  (Nevermind that our youngest had what we now know was bona-fide ADHD with some XYZ thrown in just to make things interesting.  End of story:  he learned Algebra, and graduated with a respectable enough ACT score to get into college, and has done so...three times, by my last count...)

To make a long litany short, I found myself in a place I had never been.  A place where I cried daily and violently.  A place where I didn't want to wake up, which really means I didn't want to live.

I would run a hot bath and crawl into my tub in the wee hours of the morning to weep and pray and hope that my legs would stop wanting to kick and squirm.

I lived with a burning sensation in the pit of my stomach, with no appetite.  I also had inexplicable urges to rock back and forth sometimes (I suppressed them) and developed a weird sensitivity to handling certain fabric - folding my laundry was a misery. the middle of all that...two daughters married in the space of one year (such joy...and stress!), but then my sons turned into quasi-prodigals.  I call them "quasi-prodigals" because my sons would never deny the faith, in fact they still defend and share the Gospel, if you can imagine that.  But they weren't - and aren't - living for Christ at all.

Life.  Became.  Very.  Hard.

And you know what?  There is more.  But I will stop right there.  Because it bothers me to this very day to talk about that dark season.  I would be a fool not to hate it like I would hate any other destroyer.  May even the memories rest in peace.

Suffice it to say, I have overcome overwhelming odds to be sitting here right now, this minute - not to mention laughing and mentoring and grandmothering and speaking and writing and making art and running a creative small business.

So who the heck cares if I say a replacement word occasionally, or that I like country music on days, or that I don't recycle like I should, or check my food for GMO's, or that I eat junk food on Tuesdays?  For heaven's sake, I am here and I am blessed and I know I am fully loved!

You have to pick your battles, honey, and let me pick mine.  I might go back to rabid self improvement later in life, but for now, I am a full-on Sola Gracia Girl.

By.  Grace.  Alone.

I'm juuuust happy to be here.

And happy to wake up, every single day.

It was nothing short of a radical message of grace that could crush my bondage.

Me.  Who never thought I would ever know what slavery felt like.

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