Stories that Matter

And Why, Exactly, Do We Break So Easily?

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2015.

I was so ready for it. Anticipating writing a very different blog post right about now. One in which I would share some good news I’d been given quite some time ago. But I can’t do that. And I’m not sure if or when I will be able to. Things changed and before I knew, before any of us knew, what was happening, we’re now  faced with something unexpected. Something unanticipated. And right now?

I feel broken.

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I can’t tell you if that’s okay or not. I can’t tell you whether I have the right to these feelings when so many others are facing far worse scenarios. Unemployment. Bankruptcy. Failed marriages. Cancer. You name it, it’s out there, and you and I probably know someone in pretty dire straits. So I wipe away tears and tell myself it could be worse.

Oy.

Yeah. It could. It sure could. And dammit, I’ve been here before. I’ve faced down disappointment, dealt with rejection and somehow soldiered on. After a few glasses of wine and a good sleep, things never look so bad the next day.

But this time? This time I’m older. Wiser, maybe, or that’s just wishful thinking…but this time it feels different. This time I’m not so sure I can get back up and be the same. Keep calm and carry on. I don’t know if I have it in me to keep fighting, if we have to, for what’s right in this. But I don’t know if I can walk away either.

Why are we so easily broken?

What is it about our spirit that makes it so easily crushable? You know?

Friends are rallying, wanting to pick up sticks and bash down doors and tell the world what they think about this craziness…and me? Well…I’m tired. Because I have worked so long and so hard and so recklessly at times, truly believing that this is my calling. This is what I’m meant to be doing. I have the blog posts to prove it. And then this comes. This unexpected blow that sails through me, sends me crashing and somehow puts a lid on my party before it even started.

Wow, God. Seriously?

Easy isn’t it, to blame the Almighty when things just piss you off. Like He never saw it coming. Which makes it worse in a way, because how ’bout a warning? Or oh, I know, how ’bout you changed the course of that path and prevented it altogether? Yeah. How ’bout that.

I don’t know.

And I don’t know what I’m going to do next. Not right now. Not today. But I’m sitting here writing. Which tells me one thing.

I can’t not.

So I guess, whether things change here at all, whether this was just a hiccup and something better comes along or whether it doesn’t, I guess I’m not going to quit. Even though today it sounds like the better plan. The safer plan. But is it the best plan? Ha. Probably not. Maybe for some. Maybe if I sat you down and shared with you every single step I’ve taken on this journey to finding my place in this ridiculously hard world of publishing, you’d look me in the eye and call it what it is. Crazy.

I don’t want this to be your story. My dear friend looked at me this morning over Skype through mournful eyes and said those words. Softly. Because she knows I’m broken. And I could only nod. I don’t want it to be my story either. But it is. Right now, it is. And we don’t know why. And yes, it could be worse…so so so so so much worse. But I’m not going to deny that this hurts. You’ve got to own that, feel it and accept it in order to work through it. Which is why I’m writing this down. So I remember.

So, when things are good again, and they will be, I’ll remember that I am just as easily broken as I am bolstered. And there is only One who can truly gather up those shards and seamlessly put them back together again. That’s the truth I know. The truth I’m holding on to. Because at the end, when it’s all said and done, this is all that matters. How I lived it out.

How I faced the unexpected and stepped around it.

With Grace.

Jesus. Help. Come. Heal.

This. This heart’s cry?

This is how we do broken.

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11 Comments

  1. STACYLMONTGOMERY on January 22, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    Wow…that was deep and I felt every word of it. When circumstances hit us so hard…so painfully….it is difficult to stay afloat in life. We do become broken. I can look back over some times that it literally felt my heart jumped out of my chest and ran away leaving me lifeless. I existed but I stopped living. But in those moments, I crawled to God….ran to God…cried out to God. And He lifted me. I am still not where I should be but I am on my way. Keep your head up…keep praying….grab a hold to faith. God is working things out. TRUST AND BELIEVE.

    • Cathy West on January 22, 2015 at 5:38 pm

      Thank you Stacy! Holding on with you!

      • STACYLMONTGOMERY on January 22, 2015 at 5:40 pm

        We have to, Cathy. I know it hurts but it won’t be like this always. I like to think of it like this….GREATER THE PAIN THE GREATER THE BLESSING IN THE END.

  2. shellilittleton on January 22, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    Cathy, I can’t even imagine what could have happened or what you are going through … but my heart is with you. I’m praying for you. And your heart is beautiful.

    • Cathy West on January 22, 2015 at 5:37 pm

      Thanks, Shelli. It’s writing-related. Struggling to accept the change of plans when things were looking really good for this year. Tough. But life goes on. 🙂

  3. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on January 22, 2015 at 6:02 pm

    Oh, dear Cathy.

    I wish I had an answer for you. for why we are so very fragile.

    But there are somethings I do know – first, never compare pain and heartbreak. Yours is unique. Yes, there are horrible things out there, but what you are going through still hurts. The comparison doesn’t make the pain go away – it merely adds unnecessary guilt.

    Where’s God? Why didn’t He send a warning? No answer there, but I think about it this way – we live in a world in which free will is a vital part of our faith, and to be operative, that free will can’t be influenced. He can’t tell you what’s coming, not because He doesn’t want to, but because He can’t break His own rules and keep His creation meaningful.

    He can love you, and hold you, and tell you that you are HIS, no matter what. He can give you a glimpse, that shows you that this is indeed NOT your story.

    But if He alters the trajectory of pain, He makes all of the accrued pain, all the faith, and His comfort, meaningless.

    We talk glibly about God bringing us agents and book deals, and it makes me cringe. It’s as if God has His favourites, and those left by the wayside are barely even worth His contempt. I cannot believe that.

    In the dark night of the soul, in the deep fogbound valley that seems as if it will never know a crystal dawn, tortured by the feeling of abandonment, it’s all too easy to forget where our faith comes from.

    It’s not from God moving people and events, like chess-pieces, to bring favour. It’s not evangelists slaying in the spirit, or prosperity preachers giving a prayer-to-riches pathway for $49.99 a month.

    Our faith, and our hope are from God become man, weeping from fear in Gethsemane and asking that there be some way to stay the hands of time, that He might slip away from the awful majesty that will come with the dawn.

    You are in my thoughts and in my prayers, dear, brave Cathy.

    • Cathy West on January 22, 2015 at 7:20 pm

      Thanks, Andrew! Makes sense. And thank you for praying.

  4. gene on January 22, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    Someone recently posted a smug little comment on Facebook stating that Mentally strong people move on, they don’t waste time feeling sorry for themselves.

    My thoughts were that she probably has never known brokenness—she has never known God in desperation. Because moving on just isn’t that easy. You don’t simply “will away” grief, or disappointment, you lean into it— you experience every part of it and you learn from it. It’s the stuff that develops true personal strength, produces great writers, and in the end a much stronger faith in God. You don’t move on from it, you move with it.

    Twenty-three years ago my 14 year old son was killed along with five others while on a mission trip. Last year I finally published the book telling my story. My brokenness is what I drew from to write the book. Even more importantly, all that pain caused me to see life, love and God in a fresh new way. I was eventually able to say: “Lord, I wouldn’t have chosen this for my life, but I will accept it. Please teach me from it.”

    • Cathy West on January 22, 2015 at 7:19 pm

      Wow, Gene. No words for that one. Thank you for sharing and I pray that book blesses many.

  5. Jennifer Zarifeh Major on January 22, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    I have no deep words other than what I’ve said privately.
    I’m here when you need me.

  6. Jeanne Takenaka on January 23, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    Cathy, I don’t have words. I agree with what Andrew said. We can’t compare our private struggles with others’. Each is unique. I know you know this. I wish I knew how to make it better.

    I will say this, you are an inspiration to me. I watch as you walk through the struggles, sharing it real, and yet not giving up. I know you will get through this. And like you said, the days will look brighter. It’s just the now . . . in the now it’s hard, it steals breath and weights down shoulders.

    I’m praying for you my friend.

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