My husband turned to face me, “Are you thinking of harming yourself?”
Looking down, I whispered, “Yes.”
My overwhelming sense of brokenness fostered a steady decent into depression. I asked Jesus into my heart as a child. Doesn’t that make life easy? Yet, while low-grade fear pervaded my life, everyone else around me appeared to have everything together, seemed so happy. In addition to my Bible, I devoured every Christian book I could find: first marriage books, next parenting books, then Christian living books. I prioritized quiet time. I journaled. I prayed. I thought, I must not have enough faith to have that peace without understanding. No one knew this of course. I plastered on my plastic smile, repeated Christian platitudes, and walked in the way I knew I should. Even my husband didn’t know. I worried if he glimpsed my fractured soul, he wouldn’t love me anymore. Plus, as a doctor he took care of so many people. He needed someone to encourage him and build him up, not another person to diagnose and treat.
Eventually, I saw a counselor, and she asked if I thought my feelings should dictate my actions. Of course not! But each step felt like walking through wet, emotional concrete. I tentatively told my family doc a small part of my struggles, and he prescribed an anti-depressant. The feelings only got worse. I didn’t tell my counselor, my doctor, or my husband, however. I still did all the things a good Christian should: I sang in praise team, took meals to the sick, and even served as interim music minister for a few months.
As I prayed about confiding to a friend, I found myself sobbing in the shower. If she could see me, if she truly knew me, she would run so far away. No, she would put on her sweet Christian smile, tell me she would pray for me, and then run far away. No one suffers in the church. We all have victory in Jesus, right?
Three months crawled by after my husband asked me if I planned to harm myself before I could see a psychiatrist. My husband held my hand amid the shattered shards. The psychiatrist changed my medications, and I continued revealing my broken pieces to my new counselor and my husband.
Five years have passed since that pivotal conversation. Now, I walk with Jesus in the brokenness, learning I must embrace my own imperfection and that of the world. Most of us do not. We post perfect Facebook and Instagram pictures or speak the “God is good” mantra as we pass others in church. But we are broken. In seminary, I’ve learned of the broken pieces that make up some of the lives of my fellow students. Here, we strive to model authenticity and imperfect growth. I don’t have all of the answers, a magic formula, or a Christian book to give anyone. Life can be complicated, unfair, and just plain hard.
I find comfort in the apostle Paul’s words: “But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that the extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are experiencing trouble on every side, but are not crushed; we are perplexed, but not driven to despair; we are persecuted, but not abandoned; we are knocked down, but not destroyed, always carrying around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our body (2 Cor 4—10).” Now, I try to reveal those cracks in my broken vessel, so that Jesus shines through. I force myself to risk vulnerability with my husband and a few close friends. I have finally begun to experience life that includes the joy and peace I wanted for so long. Not every day, but many days. I can honestly say God creates a beautiful mosaic out of all of our broken pieces.