I Gave Up

Everything in me wants to write a more lighthearted post on how I stay sane. The insanity brought on by the end of the school year is enough to make anyone want to pull their hair out. I have been grading essays while monitoring teenagers whose minds are already on summer vacation but who still need to take finals at the same time as I am trying to get my classroom organized for the next teacher coming in. If only I had a superwoman t-shirt…and more coffee.

Instead, as I look back on this last year, I see many extremely dark moments. Moments where it was hard to get out of bed. Moments where my whole body would shake because of stress and anxiety. Moments where I wanted to cry, but my heart was too numb. Moments where I wanted to check myself into some type of hospital but didn’t have the language skills to explain what was wrong with me. Moments where I struggled to produce any sentences in any language. Moments where the only thing keeping me from leaving the country was I was too overwhelmed to pack or to buy a plane ticket.

(Sorry, mom. I know it is hard for you to read this.)

I want to forget any of this ever happened. I want to pretend last year wasn’t so bad. I want to attribute my stress to events such as the time my student superglued his chopstick to his finger or the never ending piles of grading. I want to be able to attribute my stress to SOMETHING and fix the problem, but I can’t. I can make changes to get healthy, but I can’t fix anything. 

It is taking every ounce of willpower to not go back and edit the last paragraphs, to make it more mild. It seems overdramatic or hyperbolic. Yet, I need to show just how dark these days were. My life falling apart has been a way to show Christ’s sustaining power.

Saying He gave me words and patience as I dealt with a student who had covered his hand in paint may be true, but it doesn’t show the fullness of His power. Saying Christ gave me words when a student came and asked for prayer because she felt hopeless shows His power more. In order to show the fullness of His power, I also must recognize how hopeless I myself was, how I was struggling to see anything good, and how I was having trouble putting together simple sentences. As I prayed, the words that flowed out of me were not my words. The wisdom was not my wisdom. I can take no credit. It was the Holy Spirit’s power alone giving me anything to offer.

I could think of many ways I tried to stay sane. Coffee breaks. Sunday afternoon naps. Long bubble baths. Skype calls with loved ones. Reading books, blogs, and anything I could get my hands on. Cereal for dinner. I would recommend all of these. I would recommend doing whatever works for you in order to stay sane. Even so, this is not a long term solution and sanity seemed to be slipping farther and farther from reach. I knew something needed to change.

My sanity began to return when I gave up. I gave up trying to hold it together. I gave up the pretense of being capable. I gave up the idea of having any wisdom. I gave up the thought I could meet expectations. I gave up hope of fixing my life on my own.

I. GAVE. UP.  

I needed Christ’s power to make it through the day (or the hour…or the next few minutes). When I accepted His power, a beautiful change happened. His words and His power started flowing out of me into those around me. I have watched stunned and amazed as I have seen the change His power brought me. It gave me the strength to listen to the stories of others around me, and has given me the courage to share my own story giving others the opportunity to say, “me, too!”

Like so many things about Christ, it is counterintuitive. I reached the end of myself, and he came and filled me with His power. He didn’t give me just enough power to limp to the finish line. He has filled me so I am able to share with others.

Paul said it best in 2 Corinthians 12:9.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

 I’m linking up with Velvet Ashes at The Grove.
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11 thoughts on “I Gave Up

  1. Emily, I’m SO glad you’ve shared your story. I know your post featured at Velvet Ashes resonated with so many. And this post is a beautiful and powerful window into more of the story. His power is indeed made perfect when we are weak, when we find the courage to allow ourselves to be weak. Yes, me too.

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    1. Thank you, Danielle. It has been a slow and painful process of finding my voice again. Knowing that others have resonated with the emotion behind it is both encouraging and healing.

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  2. Emily, this is beautiful! The way to “sanity” is to give up : trying to be competent, the “pretense of being capable” – and the verse you shared – I got goosebumps – I just posted a link on the link-up to a song I wrote after praying about this verse…
    so your story is definitely resonating with me…
    Thanks for sharing it and being honest and NOT going back and erasing/rewriting those very honest and open paragraphs!

    Here’s a link to the song:
    Not That Kind of Fairy Tale

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    1. Beautiful song. Thank you! That verse has been one that I have returned to time and time again throughout this year. As much as I hate being weak, there is something beautiful about the dependence it necessitates.

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  3. Hey Emily, I am your near neigbor at velvet ashes. Thank you for your story. I find I feel better when I give up too and I do sometimes. Give up thinking or trying to have a smile on my face or trying to pretend to be a good believer. And I am glad someone else feels the same way too! Have a great weekend and many blessings Aliyah (setapartwarrior.me)

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  4. Hi Emily, thanks for sharing your story so authentically, it is a blessing and a treasure to receive it. I’m stopping by from Velvet Ashes and am a first-timer to your blog. I’ve gone through many a season of brokenness and despair myself (and wanted to be checked into a facility after having kids). I am still thankful for the ways God was my strength in those times, but also thankful for the wisdom that led us to make different choices about our lives and the decision to invite a wise therapist into the midst of it as well. I pray for you right now that you will have the resources available to you as God keeps working his power in your life. Blessings to you.

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    1. Thank you. I am just in awe that God has brought me relatively quickly out of the place I was in even when I wrote this. I’ve been noticing almost anyone who has had any experience similar to this and has come out stronger says two things.
      1. Something about thankfulness for that time.
      2. Using the words my/our choice and I/we decided.
      You were no exception. Those two phrases are powerful.

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      1. Hi, Emily – so glad to hear that God has been working and that you are not in the same place you were in when you wrote this. (I’m in the comments above from when you first posted it.) Thank you for being open (authentic!) to share where you were then, and also for now sharing that you’re not there anymore – it’s yet another testimony of His faithfulness…

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  5. Love this: “Like so many things about Christ, it is counterintuitive. I reached the end of myself, and he came and filled me with His power. He didn’t give me just enough power to limp to the finish line. He has filled me so I am able to share with others.” Thank you for sharing your heart and using your experience to both help others and give Christ the glory.

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