This has been a rough year. Health issues with myself and a family member, vehicle issues, financial struggles. It seems like it’s never going to end and things are just always going to be difficult and miserable. But when life gives you lemons, make lemonade!
I’m not going to lie, I’ve laid awake in bed at night wondering how I’m going to pay bills or fix things that really need fixed. I’ve been stuck thinking about how much life sucks right now instead of drifting off and dreaming of being on some secluded beach enjoying the sunshine. I’ve sat in bed and cried wondering how the heck I’m supposed to provide for my family or improve my health or just help my family to have some good times and make fun memories.
Just 2 days ago, I sat alone in my office before anyone else made it into work and let out a full on ugly cry. You know the kind I’m talking about, right? Tears flying all over the place, snot pouring out uncontrollably while you make the ugliest faces imaginable and let out the loudest and weirdest whale sounds that a human could ever make. The ugly cry, not a pretty picture at all. Money has been really tight, tighter than I can ever remember it being. We had a vehicle that needed repair and spent way more than expected (we actually hadn’t planned on spending anything to fix a vehicle and our emergency fund is tapped out). I was able to fix it, but I was just absolutely devastated that once again, when things seemed to be getting better, here we are in bad shape all over again.
You see, this is Street Fair week in my small town. Each year, the town has a big fair with rides and games, food, parades and carnies galore. I was really hoping to be able to have enough money to let my family go and have some fun while I was stuck at work. And this car repair put an end to that thought. I knew my son was going to be crushed to not be able to go for the first time ever.
I have some self esteem issues and as a man, I feel that I should be able to provide well for my family. I work hard and usually work long days to do the best that I can. For the last several years, we have struggled no matter how hard I’ve worked. We haven’t been on a vacation that someone else hasn’t paid for, ever. We don’t get to go on day trips to see some new sights. We don’t really get to do much of anything really. With the cost of everything skyrocketing, it’s getting even harder to provide. We’ve had to beg and borrow at times and while it’s appreciated to have people who are able and willing to help, it’s really defeating to have to give in and admit that you can’t take care of your own family.
I had come to a breaking point and I was about to snap like a twig. There wasn’t an ounce of fight left in me and the enemy knew it. He began putting those lies and half thoughts in my head. Reminding me that I can’t take care of the people that I love. That I’m a failure. Not just at the financial stuff, but everything. How could my wife love a man that can’t take care of her? How could she love a man that can’t meet some of her basic material needs? How could anyone love a man like that? You have never made her happy and she would have been better off never meeting you! Her life would have been so much better and she could have had a chance at happiness, but you had to drag her down with you. It would have been so much better if you never woke up from surgery and she could’ve just moved on with her life and had a chance at being happy.
That’s what brought on the ugly cry. Years of feeling that I was inadequate. Years of feeling like a failure. Years of constant struggle.
The whole time, I kept asking God to give me the strength to fight the lies. I KNEW they were lies, but they were still crushing my soul. I KNEW I was under attack and needed to fight back, but I just didn’t have the strength to do anything about it. All I could do was ask God to please make it stop.
I reached for my phone and texted the guys in my community group to pray for me because I was struggling something fierce. They responded pretty quickly with prayer and some scripture to read out loud.
If you’ve ever ugly cried, then you know how hard it is to see anything. I grabbed my phone anyway and opened up the Bible app to Romans chapter 8 and began reading out loud. Again, super hard with the whole ugly cry thing. I had to stop several times because I just began to sob uncontrollably. But I made it through. When I was finished, I prayed again asking God to give me some strength because I was all tapped out. I told Him that I was so desperate for help, so desperate to be able to take care of my family. So desperate to get the enemy out of my head.
It took some time, but after a few hours most of that feeling had left. I still had some of the residual stuff hanging around the back of my mind, but the crying had stopped. I was able to finish my day at work and head home.
After a meal and changing into my PJs, one of the guys sent a check in text. I was reminded of how grateful that I am to not have to fight battles on my own. I knew that without their prayers and words, that I may have not been able to shake the ugly cry. I laid down in bed and responded and got on Facebook real quick to kind of shake that last bit of blah off before spending the evening with my wife. I saw a post that I probably would’ve normally just kept scrolling past, but I stopped and read it.
When Moses asked what God’s name was, he responded with Yahweh. Jewish scholars are confidant that the a and e were added for the benefit of pronunciation, make the original name Yh (inhale) Wh (exhale). God’s name was actually the sound of breathing. Each and every breath we take, we are speaking His name. When we breathe heavily while sobbing, we are calling out to Him. When we need courage and take a deep breath, we are speaking His name for strength. When we have a difficult situation and sigh, we are asking God to be in the moment with us.
That was pretty refreshing.
It’s been a long week. All the emotional stuff (I’m not the emotional type) and stress at work. The stress and pressure of life. It’s been tough. But I look back at my friends who love me enough to take a moment and go to God for me and remember that my wife really does love me, even though I may not be the husband she imagined providing the life she dreamed of. The kindness of a friend, giving my son a gift to be able to go to Street Fair. And I think back to Yh Wh and just take a moment to breathe. Each breath a call to the one who created me. Each breath an opportunity to praise Him even through my struggles.
I think I’m going to try to drink more lemonade…