Lord, I Don't Trust You Anymore
I just watched Breaking Point by Sarah Jakes Roberts and I have literally come apart. I cried the kind of tears that have you shaking and burning up on the inside as your throat struggles to make way for any air to go in or out. I told God about my anger and bitterness and frustration. How I want to believe in Him but I can’t bring myself to. How I am failing to have hope in Him because hope has become a trigger for pain for me; it is a reminder of all the things He said He would do and hasn’t done. I told Him I hated how He was handling me and my life. I got everything off of my chest.
More than anything I realized that it is easy to become depressed as a Christian. I’m not sure that’s what I am. All I know is I’m at that point where every time I open my eyes in the morning I let out a huge sigh of “here we go again”. And it’s funny to me how I can’t seem to escape myself in real life or my dreams. The voices and sounds of defeat follow me everywhere; it is almost as though they have been etched into my mind. But I digress. It is easy to become depressed as a Christian because we mask pain and anger and everything else along those lines in faith or hope in God. Actually, we bury them in faith. We feel angry about certain situations and we say “God I am angry but I trust You.” That has been me perhaps this whole year. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to say things like this, but what if I am still angry, I don’t trust and I want nothing to do with God because I feel He gave permission for something that hurt me to happen? What happens then? I trust You still God? I don’t. Label me a heretic, but it’s true.
Like I said, I came apart tonight. It has been about an hour since I prayed and cried and I want to say I feel better and lighter and God and I don’t have beef anymore but that would be a lie – one that, if I am to go to hell, I definitely do not want to burn for. And to be frank, I want more than anything, to sit in these feelings. They’re mine and this is where I am at. I do not want to feign faith and pretend that, just because I confessed everything, I don’t feel anything, because I do. I’m still hurt. I am still having a hard time trusting. I know this is what relationships are like in real life and I don’t want to expect my relationship with God to be any different.
Sometimes I make stories up in my head to help me deal with painful situations, and the story that I am telling myself now is that Hannah must have felt lighter after pouring her heart out to God, but I am willing to bet everything I have that that didn’t mean she didn’t walk away with a headache, sore eyes and hurt from even having to talk to God about what should have been a non-starter for her as a woman. I want to believe that she went to her room that night and pondered her words and listened in the dead of the night waiting to hear from God while simultaneously crushing the idea of Him ever speaking to her. I want to believe the ride home was as hellish; that it was a “wow God after that session with You I’m still going home with a closed womb.” I want to believe that she got home and away from her trigger and everything about being in the temple that provoked her need for a functioning womb and went back to default settings: numb, passive-aggressive and a ball of happiness and ‘okay’ for everyone at home. I want to believe that that was Hannah because that is me. I have moved away from the altar of God and have come back to life. I feel lighter at having removed the baggage within, but I still feel the ache in my back and shoulders for having carried it that long. I don’t want to ask myself if that is okay or acceptable as a Christian, or question what size my faith is or if I understand faith or even have it. And maybe that’s what healing looks like, even in Christianity. Maybe it is less “I trust You God” and more of “I am still hurting and trying to believe but failing miserably.” Maybe it is making peace with the dark cloud that is hovering over my head and allowing myself to trust that God is adding little blue dots to it to have it match the sky on the good days, and on the bad days to stare at it and wonder if it will ever go away.
Maybe Hannah’s bitterness didn’t leave after she left the temple, or even when Eli told her that her prayers had been answered. If those days were anything like ours, Hannah had probably heard different variations of “It will all be well” from priests, friends and maybe even her own family. And I know now more than ever that those words have a tendency of brewing a certain resentment toward God within me as they hit the rock that is my heart as opposed to pointing me toward the light at end of the tunnel as they are meant to. Maybe Hannah’s gloom hovered around as her imagination played around with thoughts of “What if?” Maybe, just maybe, Hannah only got to smile and trust God wholeheartedly when her appetite changed, her breasts grew a bit more tender and when her menses didn’t pay her a visit. Maybe even then she was still doubtful. Maybe she waited the second, third and fourth month to believe that God had actually heard her, and that one man’s “It will all be well” had been a prophecy after all.
I don’t know what my journey will be like. I don’t want to think of it actually. Maybe I will wake up tomorrow with messages that will change the entire trajectory of my story. Maybe I will wake up and find out that my seed has blossomed into a tree, that my baby is born, that worry is no longer my best friend. Maybe I will wake up tomorrow and take a deep sigh and think “You actually care for me.” I hope I do. I desperately hope I do.
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We’re officially in the second half of the year and I can’t even begin to explain what a journey it has been. To be honest, I don’t want to get into the details of it (I’ll spare you), but if I were to summarize it, I’d say it’s been a year of self-discovery, and I mean this with all the depth that my being can truly amass. This year has been one I have discovered things about myself AND either made peace with their existence or worked at changing them because they were ugly traits and I really don’t live life carrying all that negativity around. In the midst of all this learning and unlearning, the one thing that I had to come to terms with was letting go while giving myself the grace to evolve and forgive myself for not having become what my younger self thought was the best version of me. It sucks to admit it sometimes, but she really didn’t know better, and she certainly didn’t know everything.
You see, I figured I was carrying around all this weight. Most of my anxiety stemmed from fear of the things I wasn’t. I didn’t become a doctor. I didn’t become a lawyer. I didn’t become a model or fashion designer. I didn’t become a singer/rapper nor did I become a portrait artist. Part of my not becoming any of these things was because, at one point in my life, when I had chosen a path for myself, I decided most of the things I loved no longer had room in my future and so I let go. That might have been a mistake, but this year has taught me that I need not live in the shadow of regrets of the decisions I’d made and the woman I never allowed myself to be. I can always pick what I can up, and leave what ought to be dead, to actually rest in peace – literally. In that same light, I learnt to let go of people. You see, friendships barely come easy for me. I like to keep to myself and in moments I try to give it a shot my brain somehow decides it’s time to slow down all processing functions till I can’t come up with logical answers. I’m either absolutely shy, awkward or downright disinterested. I hold on to people I genuinely like because life has taught me that meeting people I really click with is rare; a gift to some extent. I feel deeply when a friendship frizzles out, and I’m the type to try and resuscitate even what clearly shows that it has no will to live. Inasmuch as I do not want to suppress the part of me that loves to fight for things and people, I also want to learn and accept that not every person I encounter is meant to do life with me in the way that I may envision life for us to be. I want to learn that not every relationship is meant to serve me in ways that I imagine they would, and that though letting go may hurt, I still have been served, and it is purely my choice to deem whether or not I eat from the table laid before me – be it of heartbreak, joy, bitterness, or happiness. And this year I chose happiness. I chose “I’m so glad I met you because you showed me this side of myself.” I chose “It’s been swell but please stay out from now henceforth”. I chose happiness, not because the art of letting things be and letting go gave me happy options, but because I learnt that happy was not an emotion that I could leave in the hands of life, because life can be cruel sometimes.
Life can tell you the truth about yourself, and though it may be a hard pill to swallow, it is in the swallowing that we heal and get better. The first half of this year showed me the ugly sides to myself. Horrid things, those sides *shudders*. But I decided to allow myself the gift of being better by seeing what was ugly about me and turning it into a masterpiece. I learnt to let go of words that I’d used to define myself by simply because they were things I didn’t want to be associated with anymore. I didn’t want to be wifey material. I didn’t want to be lazy. I didn’t want to be sweet. Or nice. Or accommodating. I wanted no mingling with descriptions that served as a reminder of how I had suffocated myself to accommodate another. I let go of “Gemini’s are social butterflies” because I really wasn’t one. I let go of “You’re nice” because I was anything but, and anyone who used that describe me clearly didn’t know me well. I let go of “You’re so hardcore” because I had learnt to be ‘hardcore’ to protect myself from a world that taught me it would poke at my soft, inner parts. I let go, and I am letting go. As I allow my palms the freedom from the fists I had formed in a bid to hold on to ideologies, definitions and ghosts of and about myself, I walk freely into the paths that lead me to the woman I was always meant to become. I am becoming her, slowly, loudly, unapologetically.}
2020 is here and so is my anxiety. I started the year on a high note, lighting up fireworks with my brothers before retiring to my bedroom where I stared at the plans I’d written down for the year. Their magnitude dawned on me and for the first time I felt a heaviness on my shoulders that I hadn’t before. I took deep breaths and whispered, “God I don’t know how I’m going to achieve all of this. I don’t even have the finances to do it, but I have the audacity to dream because I know You aren’t limited by my circumstances. Here’s what I want. Help me.” I took another deep breath. My inhalations felt as though they were pushing back something heavy within me. By sunrise I felt all sorts of weak and powerless. My dreams had turned into a self-mockery; a reminder of why I shouldn’t even dream of dreaming.
Hello. My name is Thoko and I suffer from high functioning anxiety. My brain and imagination are my best friends on most days and on others, this is where they lead me. On days like this where people don’t feel solaceful, I am grateful to have the Bible. I landed on Ezekiel 37 this afternoon and broke down when I read verses 1-4.
You see, sometimes we are brought to our own valleys; a place where we come face to face with all the things we were meant to do or become but never did. It’s in this valley that God asks what seems to be a rhetorical question but really is one of faith; an embellishment of what Adam and Eve got when they ate the forbidden apple and hid; a question that is meant to guide us down a path of introspection where we make the connection of where we are and where we ought to be. “Do you think these bones can live?” Our response paves way for God’s command to bring to life what ceased to be alive. What moved me the most is that it is God Himself who brings us to the valley, walks in it with us and guides us through, wording us throughout the entire experience. I cannot begin to express how unraveling and calming that is for me.
I am aware of the fact that what I have is dry bones; dreams that I deeply desire to manifest and will need several miracles to achieve, but coupled with that awareness is that God is there. He is the One who makes a way in the wilderness, rivers in the deserts and the One who, in moments of my anxiety, asks me with the most tender and soft of voices, “Can these bones live?” and I say…yes. I confess my doubt and ask that He help my disbelief; that I have hope against all hope and faith against all faith. I pray that the truth of who He is silence every voice in my head that dares to question His might and ability. I believe He will do abundantly above all I could ever ask or think, according to the power that worketh in me.
I know that this is a choice I have to make. It is a declaration I need to speak to myself when the bones in my valley look very dry and I don’t seem to have a glimpse of the great army that God sees in them. It is that painful “Your will and not mine, Father” when deep down my will seems like the easier option. I don’t always believe what I say to myself, especially when it’s from the Bible and it speaks of a hope that I cannot relate to or envision, but I do believe in the power of the yes’s that I utter in rebellion to my enemies’ voice because they give God the permission to work. They wreak of a faith I wish to have, a battle I hope to win and a God I would love to have show up for me.
Will you utter rebellious yes’s this year? Will you dare greatly with a great faith in He who is greatness made manifest? Will you let Him breathe life into your dry bones? I know I will, and it is my hope that you do too.}