I remember this moment, a few months after my breakdown. I was standing at the kitchen sink, washing dishes. I had just gotten off my anxiety meds. All of a sudden, I was hit with fear about what life without the meds would be like. Could I handle my emotions. Would my panic attacks return. My mind started to spin. Anxiety started to build. I was having a freakout moment. That's when I felt it. It was like a strong, invisible hand smacked all that mental and emotional anxiety right out of me. It was a jolt that shook me, but in a good way. All of a sudden, my anxiety was gone. I stood there, stunned for a moment. Then I did something stupid. I tried to feel anxious again. I couldn't. No matter what I did, I was suddenly and inexplicably held fast in this space where I couldn't feel anxious.
I knew this was from God. During that freak out moment, I'd been doing what I always do in the midst of hard things. I'd been praying, asking God for help, wisdom, and direction. God had answered me in a very unusual way. The next few weeks for me were amazing. I was in this calm and comforting state. God was holding me in this space of perfect peace, just like scripture talks about. But it only lasted two weeks. Then it was gone. I spent the next year wrestling with God over that experience; trying to understand why it had happened, what it meant, and why it left as quickly as it came.
I wasn't all that happy about the whole experience. Why would God give me something so beautiful and healing, only to take it away? Why didn't that peace last. About a year later, I finally got some answers from God.
That year was the worst year of my life. It was the year after my breakdown. It was a year of intense recovery. It was my crucible year, when God was teaching me some of the hardest lessons I've ever had to learn. God was teaching me to be more spiritually sensitive, more empathic, more in tune with the internal state of others and the world around me. But God couldn't do that by simply giving me some magic ability to feel peace all the time. God wanted me to have that kind of peace, but not at the cost of my sensitivity. God was teaching me how to cultivate and maintain that kind of peace in the midst of a broken world, in order to be able to take His peace to that broken world. But if my peace did not allow me to feel other's lack of peace, how would I be able to be activated by God in order to fulfill that mission?
God was teaching me to be as He is in the world, extremely sensitive, but equally strong enough to bear it. A peace cultivated in absence of conflict has no ability to remain at peace in the midst of conflict. When we cultivate peace in a comfortable, static environment, that environment becomes necessary for our peace. And then we will automatically run from everything that is not like that. This is where we often find ourselves. Curating special environments conducive to our need for peace, and running from anything in opposition to that. But God is not like that.
God knows how to maintain His perfect peace even where it is most lacking, in order to bring it to those who need it most. That's what God desires for us as well. Often, we are not well fitted by God to take His peace into a broken world, because our idea of peace is running from that world. What we are actually doing is establishing our own peace through desensitizing ourselves to a painful world. We may find ourselves more internally calm, and less disturbed, but also less able to handle or be aware of the things compromising our peace. That means we can actually be instigating the opposite of peace by our attempt to establish it. Through insensitivity we may gain a greater ability to handle a broken world, but find we are participating in its brokenness unaware, because we are not sensitive to what is causing it.
Strength without sensitivity is dangerous.
Sensitivity without strength is overwhelming.
The combination of great strength and great sensitivity balance each other out. Either without the other is destructive.
Today, may we pray for an equal and greater amount of strength and sensitivity, so that we may be as God is in the world. Maybe you have a greater degree of strength. Then you need a greater degree of sensitivity to balance it. Maybe you have a greater degree of sensitivity. Then you need a greater degree of strength to bear it. Wherever you find yourself, God desires to make you more like Him, well balanced in your strength and sensitivity. Amen!