Her name was Jalene and she was my camp counselor.
Jalene was one of those people who could make you feel special no matter what. And being a needy, awkward teenager, I gravitated to her from day one. I'm sure it was annoying to her but she never made me feel that way.
About halfway through that week at church camp, she shared a scripture with us during one of our devotionals and that scripture quickly became my favorite; partly because it really did speak to me and partly because it came from my new idol.
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.**********
To this day, whenever that scripture is referred to, I am transported back to being an awkward teenager who felt unloved and unimportant and I am reminded of what that scripture did for my soul.
It gave me hope.
It gave me hope because I was a teenager who hated my body and wondered if my life really had meaning. I was angry that my life felt hard and I compared the lives of my friends and wondered why I was feeling so devastated about the life God had picked for me.
I figured this scripture was God's way of saying, "I've pushed you to your breaking point and your future does not hold difficult trials."
Because surely, a God who wouldn't give me more than I could handle would never let me struggle with a miscarriage or infertility or divorce or addiction or betrayal. All of those things would be too much and God would know it.
I didn't have enough faith in myself that I would be strong enough to handle anything harder than my teenage break-ups and constant fights with my family and eating disorder battle. And based on that reasoning, I assumed I would escape those "big" trials that I had watched other people enduring.
Because the way that I interpreted that scripture was pretty black and white. "I can't handle that so He won't allow me to go through that." Simple.
In the midst of divorce, I remember revisiting that scripture and hating everything about it. It was now a liar. I was a single mom and I was broken. Completely broken.
How could I have been so stupid? God couldn't make someone choose to stay married to me. I was so angry at myself for having false hope in that scripture.
And while trying to put my pieces back together from divorce, I experienced another traumatic event that hurt my children and myself. And although I thought I couldn't break any more, I did. Pieces of my heart that I had put back together shattered to an even greater degree.
Somewhere in the middle of this, I stopped trusting God. I didn't lose faith in His existence---I just stopped believing what I had trusted in that scripture. And in the midst of the darkest times, my only thoughts sounded like this: WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW?! I thought God wouldn't let me break!
But God did NOT stop me from breaking.
And I shouldn't have expected Him to.
When I read that scripture at age 14, I interpreted it to fit my anxious mind. If God wouldn't tempt me above what I was able to endure, He would know I'm definitely not strong enough to endure "x, y, and z".
But there was a key piece of that scripture that I was looking past. The very last part of that scripture states "that ye may be able to bear it". And if the scripture ends with that phrase, doesn't that mean none of us are actually exempt from pain and suffering in this life? Why would God tell us we would be able to bear hard things if He was going to shield us from all of the hard things?
So it finally clicked. And I didn't really like that it clicked. Because that meant I wasn't exempt and that I had no right to be angry at God and that I was, in fact, capable of breaking.
God would let me break.
But as promised, He would provide a way for me to put my shattered pieces back together. He would help me escape the very depths of Hell if I would reach my hand out and hold onto His.
And as I put those pieces back together, differently each time, He shows me where certain pieces belong in my ever-growing soul. He heals me, not by erasing the pain but by strengthening the shattered pieces so that in the end, I am a better person.
When God promises us that we are stronger than our temptations, He is quick to add that WITH HIM we can handle them.
It isn't that God won't let us break. It isn't that we will never experience temptations that we fully believe are out of our control.
The truth is that God meets us in those dark alleys and says, "Follow me", and when we do, we realize we can bear ANYTHING with Him by our side.
I no longer believe I am exempt from trials just because I may not be able to handle them.
Instead, I try my best to trust in God so that when I break, I can allow Him to help me put myself back together again.
It doesn't always happen easily. There is still some small part of me that feels anger toward God when I'm faced with something difficult. And ironically, that is because I have faith that He can heal me. It isn't because I doubt Him. It is because I'm over here having panic attacks and thinking, "I know You have the power to heal me so why is this still happening?"
Although it seems like a negative thing, to talk about how I am NOT unbreakable, it helps me. Knowing that I can break reminds me that it is ok to feel the way I need to feel and grieve the way I need to grieve. It reminds me that this type of break isn't permanent but that my timeline doesn't have to be rushed.
It's ok to break.
And everyone has the capability of putting those pieces back together, to create a whole new masterpiece.
I love my breakable life. I hate anxiety but I love my life.
And I think what I love the most is that it's possible to love life, even when the sun is hiding behind the dark clouds and the rain seems never-ending.
In the middle of this struggle where my anxiety is almost always overactive in my brain, I still have some of the most beautiful days and I'm still capable of making really amazing and brave choices.
Anxiety doesn't ruin my life. It can't---because I won't let it.
This week has been full of choices that have left me in awe of my own strength. I got to start observing at my old high school on Thursday.
On Friday, I got to teach my very first 15-minute lesson (planned all by myself) to a classroom of 10th graders and I wasn't even a little bit anxious. It went really well and I found myself excited, knowing that I will soon have that as my every day career.
On top of that, I am one month into my teaching certificate and decided to take FIVE classes---all of which I currently have 100% in.
My house is NOT a disaster and I've already done all laundry from our vacation last week.
Anxiety hits my eating habits hard but I've chosen healthier options multiple times in the past two weeks (sounds like baby steps, feels like giant steps).
I've gotten multiple calls (no placements yet) for foster care and I'm just chillin' over here like, "Bring. It. On." Because if I didn't think it was the right thing to do in the midst of all this crazy, I wouldn't be doing it.
I love the life I'm living. It gets lonely, sure. But it's pretty darn great.
And I am grateful that God allows me to break so that I recognize just how strong I am with Him by my side.