I’ve never worn a straitjacket.
However, I’ve forgotten my coat at a freezing fall softball game. I pulled my arms into my shirt to keep warm and sat there looking like an idiot. Unfortunately, a foul ball came over the fence and sailed straight towards me. You’ve never seen awkward until you’ve seen a 33-year-old woman with her arms buried inside her shirt while a ball plummets towards her head. I couldn’t use my concealed hands to shield my cranium, so I screamed and wriggled around like some kind of sick seal. Then I fell out of my chair and the ball bounced 2 inches from my face. While my arms were still hidden inside my shirt.
What were we talking about? Oh, yeah. Straitjackets. (And judging by that story, I sound like I’m crazy enough to require one.)
As most of you know, straitjackets are usually associated with psychos. Or escape artists. But mostly Hannibal Lecter.
And if I didn’t have Jesus, I’d probably be in one.
No, I wouldn’t eat your liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti, but I’d probably be a real fruit loop. Maybe I’d be arrested for dancing to Pat Benatar in a 7-11 parking lot with a shaved head and a bottle of Southern Comfort tucked in the armpit of my Ninja Turtle costume. Hop in this paddy wagon, Susannah. We’re going to drive you down to a nice, florescent-lighted facility by the railroad tracks. You’ll love Nurse Ratched. She’ll give you all of your meds. Now, don’t hide any under your tongue. You need them all. Here, put this lovely jacket on. Looks good on you.
Crazy. Flat out crazy.
Dancing in the Ninja Turtle suit would probably be brought on by a bout of overwhelming mourning because I couldn’t call my mother to tell her I’m not pregnant. Again. I’d look at the negative test and reach for the phone, sobbing, craving her voice and her prayers and her words of wisdom. And then I’d remember, she’s gone. And I’m barren. And I don’t know how much more of this I can take. I’ll just go crazy. I’ll just forget my problems by pretending I’m Donatello. I’ll go down to the 7-11 for a slice of pizza. No harm in that, is there?
But instead, praise God, I manage to keep a sound mind. When I’m overwhelmed with life, I fall to my knees with my arms outstretched, and I give it to Him. I give Him my loss, the void, the pain, the hurt, the faulty womb. I give Him my tears and my heartache. I tell HIm, “God, I don’t know how much more I can take. I’m broken.”
And every time, without fail, I’m washed in incredible peace. Whether it’s on the bathroom floor in a puddle of tears, or buried beneath my comforter because I don’t want to face the day, or at a red light when I’m too zoned out to notice it changed to green, He meets me right where I am. He is near to the brokenhearted.
I don’t know why my father died when I was 11. I don’t know why my second dad died four years ago. I don’t know why my mother died five months ago. I don’t know why I’ve had 36 negative pregnancy tests. I just don’t know.
But I do know why I’m not being carried off in a government vehicle with twelve prescriptions and a scheduled lobotomy, even when I feel so alone and helpless. Even when I think having a nervous breakdown would be an absolutely normal thing to do given my situation.
I do know all things work together for our good if we love and trust Him.
And I love Him. I trust Him.
I’m not making my problems out to be worse than yours. I don’t know your struggle. I don’t know your loss. I don’t know your addictions. I don’t know your plight. I don’t know your sorrow. I don’t know your desires. I don’t know your disappointment. I don’t know your medical history. I don’t know your pain. I don’t know your story.
However, I do know He’ll meet you, too, right where you are. I know He’ll place you at His feet. He’ll tell you to breathe. He’ll tell you to rest. And although your heart is pounding and your eyes are stinging with salt and you don’t feel you can catch your breath, you don’t feel you can take one more second of hurt, you will do just that- you’ll breathe. You’ll rest.
It’s indescribable. That peace. I can’t find the proper adjectives to accurately convey it. You have to experience it for yourself. You have to release each finger from the end of the rope. You have to fall and be caught by HIm. And the best way to do that is to say, “I can’t do this anymore. Help me.”
And there He’ll be.
Thank God I’m not in a straitjacket.
Thanks be to God.
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.