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When You are Broken: The Now-Traumatic Disorder of Everyday Life

A Holy Experience

They sell anti-aging cream to women like us.

And Spanx.

And glossy checkout line headliners that splay this shock that over 40-something women can still startlingly turn heads — as if having no wrinkle lines in your skin is somehow an accomplishment of galactic proportions and worthy of worship – and you can just be emptying your cart in checkout #6 and end up feeling more like a piece of meat than the roast that’s on sale for 1.99 this week.

So you end up buying azaleas on your way home in the rain.

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Because you’re getting to that week on the calendar page that says the the Big XXX–0 … and you feel like something’s broke.

Like the world’s gone mad, like your heart and head have just up and shattered over night and you are sitting in a mess trying to put the pieces together again and we all get old and there’s no defying it and you aren’t all you want to be and neither is anyone you love.

Every single day has a bit of it’s own now-traumatic stress disorder. It’s not just the life crises that are traumatic. The mirror can be traumatic and any self-reflection, and time and aging is traumatic for us who are made to breathe eternity.

And Miley Cyrus will someday have a wrinkled neck and Little Prince George will be wheeling a car out of Kensington palace and his Dad will have no hair and his mother’s will be white and it is what it is and your choice is either receive your life or reject your one chance at living and you can ask all you want where does the time go, but it doesn’t get stuck under the couch.

The point is that your life is meant to be spent.

The point is that your life is meant to be used up and every wrinkle means you are wringing out the good of the wonder of this thing called life.

So let the glossy people take their botox and smooth things over and pretend they aren’t wringing this thing right dry, because the rest of us are going to try and we have no shame.

The kids are flat-out growing up. And speed and time are the addictions of all space outside of heaven and the kids are standing there looking us now in the eye and we are stumbling out of bed and looking in the mirror and wondering if we’ve grown into the lives that we prayed for or have we fallen into something else?

Is this it?

Why is hope of change sometimes the one miracle you don’t dare hope for?

Rain just keeps thrumming the roof.

Rain just keeps coming across the fields, and the wheat and the azaleas in candlelight and the ache of a thousand popping moments has you leaning in a doorway, waiting for something to finally come and something else to finally ebb away.

Sometimes you can want to run away more when you are a supposed-adult than when you are a kid.

When you really want to disappear – is when you really want to be found. When you really want to run away from everybody – is when you really want to be found by just somebody.

It’s about aging — and more. It’s about time passing and never coming back — and more. It’s about getting through the birthdays — and letting yourself be loved. Even if it’s imperfectly by imperfect people. Hold out for perfect and you end up holding nothing.

Why is it so hard to let yourself be loved?

Sometimes you can hardly bear to let anyone try to love you because it feels like a lie.

And for crying out loud, life is too blazing short to live lies.

Is that why a million haggard people hate birthdays? Because love on that day can feel like a lie, like an obligation, like a polite duty and it’s too hard to smile and pretend through its plasticity.

Or maybe it really is — that the moment you accept love, you have to accept yourself, and there’s something in that that seems unacceptable. Strange, how there’s no love without humility – no one can accept anything except on their knees. (Everything else is stealing.)

Maybe it’s not about birthday candles or aging; maybe it’s really about the calendar saying the time is now to look that wrinkling face in the mirror and touch that cheek gentle and whisper, “It really is okay. So you are broken. Be brave. Let yourself be loved.”

There.

Everything can still in that moment and the knots can all fall away and it has nothing to do with the azaleas.

Peace is a Person. No one can steal Peace from you. And nothing can steal you from Him.

You can’t look across candles and think you’ve wrecked your life, you can’t turn the calendar pages and think you’ve messed it up, you can’t hold up any measuring stick and think you’ve botched it so bad, that you lose Peace, that you can’t get Peace, that you can’t find Peace. If you have Christ – nothing can steal your peace.

I stand there listening to the rain.

The house and the kids hush in the evening thickening and falling and the candles flicker boldly on.

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And right there those memorized verses from Romans breach the surface of things, because memorization isn’t for the smug saints who have made it but for the desperate sinners who want to make it:

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus… ”

The enemy wants nothing more at the end of the day than to make you and all your offered years feel like a piece of chopped up meat. You’ve just got to call Satan by what his ugly name really means: prosecutor. The work of the enemy isn’t ultimately to tempt you, but to try you.

If Satan can ultimately prosecute you — you will ultimately imprison yourself.

He’s like this glossy headline mocking your weathered life: “And you look around at your life and call yourself a Christian?”

And even the weary and worn-out can cut him down with one sharp edge of a memorized verse:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?

Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? …

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us…. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth — 

nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ~ Romans 8

The prosecutor of your soul can’t ever nail you: Time can’t wreck your life. You can’t wreck your life. Nothing in all of this world can separate you from the love of Christ and His love is your life. Your life is unwreckable because Christ’s love is unstoppable.

Sure, time, age, life, this side of glory is traumatic. Living in a fallen world can’t help but be traumatic — falling is traumatic. Every single day is this stream of tiny traumas. (Those who dare to trust call them gifts.) We’ve all had to unplug toilets and clean up puke and crawl into bed and lay waiting for His new mercies to come again before we move. None of us are alone in any of this.

Growing cold and numb and buying a year’s supply of botox isn’t going to make you soul beautiful. You have to let yourself feel. You accept freedom the moment you accept the apology that no one offered. You have to let your life wrinkle. You have to let hope get into the folds of things. You are here to be spent. Saving yourself up isn’t how the saved are meant to live. Go for broke.

And when you are broken – because that’s what happens when you go for broke – and you look into a mirror, a calendar, into that one face, and you can’t stop the aching lump burning up through the center of your heart, listen till the rain comes.

Watch how the clouds break and break open and listen for rain and reach out your hand and feel it’s wet sweetness coming down in all this vulnerable freeness. This is the broken that makes you beautiful.

Live like this right to the very end.

Peace can fall like rain.

 

 

Related: 40 Things You have to know Before You are 40 — Letter to a Woman Mid-Way

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