So, about 17 days into 2018 I realized I might need to break up with the internet.
On the heels of a broken relationship, a horrible bronchial infection (which landed me in the hospital soon after), and an overall tough end to 2017, my family launched into a season which I knew would be an interesting one… reality TV. My mom and I appeared on TLC’s My 600lb Life in support of my aunt who has been braving this journey of getting her life back.
And I learned the internet was cruel.
And I’m not going to lie, as much as I didn’t want to let it impact me, it did. The storm swirled around and I started to drown.
The grief of this broken relationship was an undercurrent dragging me back out to the ocean. I was stuck swimming against it, trying to fight my way to shore. I wanted so much not to feel broken-hearted anymore that I swam and swam and swam against the current. Any swimmer knows, the current does what it will and the only way to beat it is to swim with it. But moving with grief and sorrow and longing felt too risky, like being sucked out into the abyss to be lost at sea.
So I swam as hard as I could fighting for my life — my tears mixing with the saltwater, draining my energy day in and day out.
And then I had to face the backlash from the show. I had to face this experience, one we spoke of and joked about and wondered aloud, by myself. Without his strength and his kindness and his acceptance. I had to face it without him. And don’t get me wrong, there were many people who were very very kind. Kindness in spades and affirmation. Yet there were some who were cruel. Some who decided to have opinions and thoughts on who I am, my body, the way I behave, and what I must be after seeing me on screen for a total of less than 10 minutes.
You add that to the health issues re-surfacing and let’s just say, the hurricane grew to epic proportions. The swirling landed me in the ER with blood pressure of 180/100 and a pulse of 133. While the cause of this ER visit can be attributed to an infection in my lungs, I have no doubt the anxiety of life caused a part in the rapid decline of my health.
let the waters rise I will stand as the oceans roar
To be honest, I wasn’t standing. I was sinking.
So I turned the internet off for the last few weeks. Deleting apps from my phone and calming the chaos I can control. Turning the anxiety and the energy instead to Jesus. I realized if I spent half the amount of energy I spend on a variety of things focused on knowing the heart of God, I would be walking in reckless joy and steadiness in His word. So I got rid of it.
A few days ago, some anxiety started to creep in. Now, anxiety is not my go to emotion. I struggle on the spectrum of depression or mood disorders but anxiety is a newer one for me. When it came flooding in, the bands around my chest tightened and I felt like I was going to throw up. I choked back tears until I could find my way to the bathroom, lock myself in a stall, and cover my silent sobs with my hands as grief poured from my soul.
Grief. My familiar unexpected and unwelcome companion. The emotion tainting all experience and life these past two months. Grief.
I had forgotten what it felt like for a bit. More good days than bad, grateful for the ability to put one foot in front of the other. But then I slammed into it like a car crash. Broken glass, air bags, disoriented, ringing in my ears, grief.
Grief scares me at times because grief feels like the emotion that will I never come back from. Grief feels like the land of hopelessness.
But this time grief felt different.
Grief felt like something I could feel without being held captive to. The memories or fears or triggers that would flood me had room to exist but not take root. There was space for them but no place for them to take residence. For the first time, maybe ever, grief felt like a layover and not the final destination.
even the thunder and the wind obey
at the command of my Father, Father
I set my feet upon your mighty name
So let the rain fall harder, harder
The storm rages. Grief enters. And because of the firm foundation of who Christ is, we stand at the storm, stare it straight in the eye, and challenge it to fall harder. We challenge it to match the mighty power of Christ. To try to drown us. To attempt to swallow us whole.
But we learn that we are not held captive to the land of grief, nor are we sucked into the storm. We stand. We move. We live. We thrive.
And sometimes, a man breaks your heart and the internet comes for you and your lungs give up. And sometimes you continue to pray for that man, and bless those who have opinions, and give your lungs rest.
Because the storm is just a storm.