As I sat on my couch contemplating and praying about what to write about, I flashed back to a similar position I sat in, four years earlier. At that time, I had a received a call that my new kindergartner wasn’t adjusting well to his new routine. Simultaneously I had a two-year-old screaming her lungs out, lamenting for the pacifier I was attempting to ween from her. Little did I know that four years later I would be sitting on this spot writing about the breakdown that brought me to a pivotal point in my life.
See, I was crying.. no, bawling on the couch that day. I was overwhelmed, exhausted, hungry from forgetting to eat and to top it all off, I was wearing pants four sizes bigger than before I had my kids. My marriage was in shambles, my job was stressful and my opinion of myself was less than attractive. I remember this breakdown well, very well. I didn’t realize in that moment that it would be the springboard for a wild adventure I was about to go on. Not one on the mountaintop of victory you may be picturing; but the walk of beauty in the breakdown of my life.
Fast forward four years later. I am not in the same city or home. My kids are older, my couch is different and my life looks different. Since then, I’ve repaired my marriage, lost 30 pounds and found my love of body building and competition. I have a thriving training business and my kids are still my world… still in progress, but a complete joy.
However, I am also more broken, I have fallen more times than I care to remember and I walk through a valley of unknowns.
Now stick with me. I promise this won’t turn into the sad country song I call Stephany’s life. It’s the BREAKDOWN of my life I want to share. The BREAKDOWN of walls, belief systems, pride, self-doubt, lack of faith, fear of failure. The things that broke down as a result of my breakdown.
I am going to nerd out for a paragraph, so stick with me. As I mentioned, I love body building. It fascinates me, it pushes me, it makes me excited to learn about my body and it became a tool the Lord used to bring healing. There is a process that I’d like to highlight in the process of building muscle. Really quickly though, let me tell you a bit about how muscles build. In Lehman’s terms, we have muscle tissues that, if you want to grow them, must be stressed. You must create small tears in your muscle fibers in order to begin a building process. With proper recovery time and nutrition, your muscles will grow back stronger to prevent tearing of the same kind in the future. Thus, when weights are lifted, when pressure is applied, when pain and discomfort reside, is where the “magic” happens. In this process there is a motion called “Eccentric” motion which causes lengthening of the muscle and it is in this motion, where some experts believe 40% of muscle is built “larger”. This slow, and uncomfortable motion is where muscle is broken down the worst, thus allowing it to grow back even stronger.
Now you say, Stephany, I am not interested in building muscle at all! Friend, that is OK!
I want you to see that in the tearing during the eccentric motion is where the muscle is built. See friend, anything can thrive in perfect circumstances. In order to thrive one must first grow. I’ve learned in four years that my breakdown was the most beautiful place to be. Its where my muscles were built. Its where I learned kindness, humility, self-love… my Saviors love for me.
It was in the tear of pain while facing a split from my best friend. It was in the tear of disappointment when another diet failed. It was in the stress of feeling like I was failing my kids and the hatred of my reflection in the mirror.
It was in the times I fell on my face asking the Lord for wisdom that didn’t appear to be coming. It was in the moment I released my marriage to the Lord and chose to be kind and not bitter. It was in the hundreds of times I went to the gym and ate well without seeing any results. It was in the hallowed ground I sat on in the form of my couch, floor or my kitchen table where I chose to surrender all, to the Savior who saw it all.
It WASN’T on the mountaintop where I found my healing. It wasn’t when I was standing on a competition stage, the celebration of my 10thwedding anniversary or the honor roll ceremony for my kids.
See friend, it’s in the breakdown of your life; the ugliness of a fight with your spouse, the pain of being alone, the desperation to find a partner, the brokenness of your circumstance where God wants to work in you the most.
Dare I say, that the strength of where you will be, is not found in the breakthrough, it is found in what you learn and do in the BREAKDOWN.
I’m sure if you have been in a Sunday school class as a child, at some point, you have heard of the battle of Jericho. If not, that’s ok, if you have, let me refresh you a little. The Israelites had wandered the dessert for 40 years. They had the promised land waiting for them on the other side of this huge wall. The wall was very strong on the outside, but it has been researched, that it may have not been just one wall but a series of fortified walls. Bible experts explained that there was an outer wall that went around the great city. Inside that wall, there was a large hill that lead down to another wall that also encased the city. Not to mention the walls that were built inside the city that kept structures divided.
What am I getting at here? Well, much like Jericho we can have walls in our lives. Bitterness, anger, resentment, worry, shame… you insert yours here. Much like Jericho we can have several walls that surround us. Can I say that Jericho represented 40 years of pain that the Israelites endured? Did they deserve it? Some would say yes. But either way, it was pain nonetheless. It was a reminder that they still hadn’t made it to the promised land. It was generations that had been told of this place but never quite made it through. My dear friend. Maybe you have a promise on your life, a breakthrough on the other side of your fortified walls, but you haven’t allowed the Lord to really teach you in the “40 years” of wandering in the dessert. Maybe the only thing he’s waiting on, is for you to drop your sword, pick up a horn (or you can sing), and do the tedious march around the walls. ITS WHAT WE DO in the breakdown of our lives, what we do when the walls surround us that define the breakthrough. While an anointed leader, I believe Moses was so caught up in the breakdown on the way to the promised land that he never made it. Moses and the Israelites were so caught up in the pain of not having food or water or light or… you get the idea…they complained a lot,so much so, that they missed out on the promise. They missed out on the breakthrough. Joshua saw differently, he saw the promise and did what was necessary to reach the promised land.
I write to you not as a woman who has it all together. But as a woman who has experienced multiple breakdowns of life. I speak to you… quite honestly.. from a “valley” season of life. A place where uncertainty creeps in and where depression and anxiety like to visit. But also, from a place of peace. A place where my savior has stood and will stand. I can truly say, that because of my breakdown four years ago. I have learned to say “It is well.”
Like me, you may be in the eccentric motion of life. If you are, I’d like to encourage you and say that in this breakdown, let the Lord breakdown all he needs you to lose. Let him build the muscle you will need later to face a harder challenge. Embrace your breakdown and take heart that our God is ever present in your circumstance. Allow him to teach you to say…” It is Well with my soul.”
Until next time, keep lifting,