If I Didn’t Have Jesus, I’d Probably Be in a Straitjacket


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.

I’ve digressed.

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.

Literally.

Thanks be to God.

 

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28

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About Susannah

I'm a freelance writer, blogger, aspiring best-selling author, wife of one and stay-at-home mother of two. I was chosen for the Top 13 in Blogger Idol and contribute pieces to The Huffington Post and Hahas for Hoohas. My work has also been featured in several humorous e-books, "Southern Writers’ Magazine", "The Humor Daily", "The Funny Times" and on the Erma Bombeck website. When I'm not putting pen to paper, bandaging boo-boos or spraying Shout on unidentifiable stains, I enjoy reading, playing the piano and teaching my children all about Southern charm. God has blessed me beyond measure and to Him be the glory forever.


30 thoughts on “If I Didn’t Have Jesus, I’d Probably Be in a Straitjacket

  • Rachel

    So true! I’ve kind of been going through something too…not my mothers death…that happened 10 years ago, but other life challenges. Prayer is all I have. I have seen my little prayers answered and sometimes not the way I wanted but what I needed. It always amazes me and reminds me that our loving Father knows us and what our needs are without us know even for ourselves. Thanks for reminding me..I would probably be in the same room as you all tied up!!

  • Angie Hammonds

    I knew you would find this place. This place where all of your pain would come pouring out of you in an uplifting, cathartic fashion. This piece has touched me and I can’t begin to imagine how many others. God makes sure that nothing goes to waste…even (or maybe especially) our pain.

  • KD

    Thank you for writing this, it is what I needed today. You have helped so many people through your hurt and pain, you are a gift from God.
    I have this verse on my dresser facing my bed at home and on my desk taped to the bottom of my computer. It’s in true Jesus fashion; ready to let you fall in his mighty arms.

  • Amy

    Thank you for your honesty. Life is hard for me and I know without Jesus, I would probably be dead. Keep writing and encouraging others.

  • Tiffany

    I sit here in tears as I read this… Tears of a broken heart, yet years of joy and encouragement. Thank you for speaking truth through your pain and hardship! You truly are an encouragement and definitely good medicine to the soul (Prov 17:22). THANK YOU!

  • Danielle

    Hey Susannah, ive noticed you have 2 children but you said you couldnt get pregnant right now. I just want to know are they adopted or from earlier years. I have a 13 year old but I was told i couldnt have any more children. I havent tried as Im not married so I got on birth control after 2 extremely early miscarriages with 2 pregnancies with my ex boyfriend. Im yet holding on to Gods word. I havent been in another relationship Im just praying once I get married we can try. I know that when people give you a million no’s all it takes is one YES from God.

  • Rosemarie

    Thank you for having the courage to share your gift of writing, touching the lives of others. This particular piece resonated with me. Christ Jesus has, without fail, brought me indescribable peace and joy during the toughest of times whenever I have I surrendered my burden to Him.
    God bless you, Susannah.

  • Lisa O'Donnell

    I often wonder how, how, how, do people survive this crazy life without the Lord. What a blessing it is to have the assurance that there is a plan. I have a purpose. My job is to just keep plodding on, lean on Him, live like Him and just be the one He created me to be.
    Thanks for your funny thoughts on life. Life is crazy and sometimes just a quick read or a Facebook post from you brightens a moment. I’m enjoying seeing the world through your eyes.
    A Californian (I guess that makes me an official westerner) and now a transplant in Charlotte, NC,
    Lisa O’Donnell

  • Julie

    Love your words Susannah. Thank you for them. This morning, my sales manager texted me your video about the facial hair. I almost peed in my pants. Actually I think I did pee in my pants. So then I had to google you and then I discovered your webpage. You are a blessing and such a joy! Funny how I have become closer in my walk with God and people who I thought were my friends, turned out not to be so but it doesn’t matter. I know that peace when I’m alone, I know He is always there, like a telephone line on hold with the red light flashing just waiting for me to pick it up, whenever I need to. Thanks for making me see that I am truly not alone as at times I do feel that way. When you are alone, truly alone, at your weakest that is when He wants you to call on Him. So glad I found you love reading your blogs and watching your hysterical videos! God Bless

  • James Martin

    God is with us when most we need him and never abandons us in those times of need. Twice, in the last two years, I have been at Death’s Door, expecting the end of my life and both times my sister ‘just happened’ to be in the neighborhood. If God had not put her there, my heart problems would have seen me to the grave. He watches over us and never gives us more than we can bear; we only grow stronger from our struggles so that we can fully appreciate the miracles he provides to those who believe.
    There are times when we want to give up and want to walk alone to whatever end may come our way but God will never not be by our side, loving us and giving us the strength to carry on.

  • Sara

    Your writing is such a gift to me and to many others. I appreciate the delicate humor. I appreciate your vulnerability and honesty. I am also struggling with secondary infertility. I have two “babies” 6 and 4 (soon to be 7 and 5) and have longed to have that third baby in my arms for 3 years now. It hurts. It is a grief of a loss that is so hard to explain to those who don’t understand. I am not ready to be done. I pray that one day we both WILL hold that third baby in our arms.

  • Kati

    I have felt what you’ve written. While I don’t know the pain of losing my parents, my husband and I struggled for 4 1/2 years of secondary infertility. For those 4 1/2 years I had such immense guilt of a faulty womb, an inability to give our son a sibling. It was finally March of this year that my husband and I decided one last go at IVF, as all other fertility treatments had failed. Despite my fears (mostly financially), I put my trust in God, and this time we received the greatest gift of a positive pregnancy test. I lay here, reading this at 5am, 35 weeks pregnant. I’m so overwhelmed with emotion of the gift I’m about to receive, but also for the thousands of women who continue to struggle with infertility. Philippians 4:13…I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me. I pray you get your BFP one way or another. I really, really do.

  • Kristen

    I have two children from fertility treatments. We wanted a third but I wasn’t sure I could do the roller coaster again, after all, I have two beautiful children!. But, husband was so sure. So sure! And in marriage, we respect the others desires particularly when we’re not sure. So we stepped forward into the zillion painful tests, the hormones, the needles, and the worst part, the emotions. We failed, several times. We were running out of money and time and frankly, I was grateful to be nearing the end so we could just move forward. Then, on possibly the last cycle we could do because of the holidays, I get cysts and we have to cancel. I was so low, everything felt particularly cruel. I saw your post on infertility during that time and it really helped me, reminded me I was loved and there were promises. Can you guess where this is going? I’m pregnant. On this “off” cycle, with no interventions for the first time in my life. His timing is perfect and your miracle is coming. My prayer is that you feel held until then, because it is darkest before the dawn!

  • Loretta Shannon

    Omgoooosh. I cried and I love it.. I too reach out to God anytime, anywhere and he NEVER fails me
    These word’s were absolutely beautiful.
    .

  • Melanie

    Love this, and been where you are. I tried doing things on my own for many years and that went very, very badly. Found God again who was right there waiting for me, and through many years of infertility, just brought me closer and closer to my Lord. I remember laying on my floor, suffering a very early miscarriage, needing that straight jacket, and finally surrendering to Him. I gave up “trying” on my terms and timelines, said goodbye to the fertility doctors, and a few months later, I was pregnant! 13 months later, I was pregnant with baby #2. God has a great sense of humor! Hang in there, He has a plan!!

  • Cari Domas

    I spent 10 years trying to have my son. My mom died when I was 11, my only sister when I was 24. During that 10 years I had a lot of love and support but all I wanted was my mom. Her hug, her love, her understanding. Or my sister, my only link to our mom, for laughs and support. I got pregnant after a fresh round of invitro and miscarried twins. We’d tried so long, spent around $70,000, jeoparized my health, and our hearts. We decided to try just one more time, we had 2 frozen embryos left after the miscarriage. If it didn’t work we were done, we had 4 nephews at the time, we would dedicate ourselves to them. But it worked, and miracle of miracles, he stayed there, no middle of the night miscarriage. It was a hard pregnancy ending in severe preeclampsia and my son coming at 31 weeks, weighing just over 3 pounds. But he was healthy and home after a 14 day stay at the NICU. My heart breaks for you. I am now 41, have a beautiful 7 year old live wire boy. If you want to talk to someone my email is cdomas75@gmail.com. I am not your momma but I have been there. I was there a very long time. I am praying for you and sending you a hug.

  • Angela Blanchard

    Thank you so much for sharing your heart. I needed this today! Today is the 19th… 7 months ago I gave birth to the most beautiful baby girl and during the last moments of labor she went to heaven and I miss her so desperately… I have a bright and energetic little girl turning 5 in 10 days and we are going to celebrate her in a big way this year. It’s been a really tough year for me and my family, and just like you said if not for the Lord I wouldn’t be functioning at all, but maybe I need to let go more often and not try so hard in my own strength so much. Anyway, thank you for sharing your heart ❤️

    • Cari Domas

      Angela, this just broke my heart! I am so sorry for your loss. Hugging my little on tighter and feeling blessed. Good luck with the celebration.

  • Luanne Kea

    I am so glad you seem to have such an incredible relationship with the Lord. It takes work! It takes time spent in His word, prayer, and silence – patience to grow in a walk with Jesus. And I humbly agree with your bravely shared and hilarious descriptive story.

    As a Christian, Mom of four, only-self-proclaimed-funny-lady, Master’s level Psychologist, a Licensed Professional Counselor, a full time Psychology Instructor, and advocate of Mental Health Awareness (MH), I would also like to encourage you to increase the awareness of how God uses many resources to help people with MH. Sometimes He uses our relationship with Him directly. Other times he uses Counselors, and other MH professionals, medication, etc. to work through. And no matter which resource He uses, I believe He can make ALL THINGS good for those who believe in Him (Romans 8:28).

  • Debra Loftin.

    God knows all. I needed this today. I’m at a crossroads, at 64!! I’ve taken comfort knowing that He is with me at all times. I’m trusting my Lord. All for the glory of God.

  • Whitt

    Thank you for sharing some of your story! God is amazing! I don’t know what I would do without Him, especially as I lay here staring at my beautiful rainbow baby. I never realized how many barren wombs exist in this world until I experienced my first and my second. Finally, the Lord gave us a beautiful baby! You’re so encouraging – I love your videos!

  • Kate

    I know this is an old post but I hope you see this anyways. I don’t think it was your intention but the tone of your piece made it seem as if a person turned to God all of their traumas, all of their mental health issues would be cured. I know you made somewhat of an exception for this towards the end but the overarching theme was “People in strait jackets don’t know God or don’t turn to him”. I’ve been that person. Not in a strait jacket per sea but I might as well have been. I’ve been hospitalized more than a dozen times. It’s not because I didn’t turn to God when I was raped or when I experienced loss or when things got hard it’s because biologically my brain is primed to have a mental illness. Prayer and trust wasn’t enough. I needed medication, therapy, hospitalizations, residential treatment and more. And yes God was a huge part in my healing. My faith gave me hope in the darkest times. But I needed more and I believe God led people to create more treatments because trauma and mental illnesses are just like cancer. They sometimes need more than prayer to be fully treated and cured.

    Also it’s important to note that strait jackets are a real thing. They are still used. I also understood your point there but it’s hard to read someone make light of something so traumatizing.

    I doubt you meant to reinforce the Christian myth that if you pray hard enough you shouldn’t need mental health treatment but your post does and that’s so dangerous. It’s causes people to not seek help and that often leads to dangerous and sometimes life threatening situations. I hope you’ll perhaps rewrite your post with this in mind. Posts like this can have unintended negative consequences.

  • Donna

    I totally understand & agree. I stepped out completely following God & He led me to leave everything behind. But He led me to a Very hard place for me to. He had to change me a lot in order to stay here. Guess u could say I’m n a firey place thats burning all the junk out of me. Came so close to a nervous breakdown but God gave me a vision & steared me away from that direction

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