Life at the End of the Rope

I receive inspiration for writing this blog at weird times. This one came at 4 AM, lying in bed. But have no fear – it was written at a much more reasonable hour!

You see, there’s been a lot to process since getting back from Brazil. Yesterday I had to come to terms with deciding against participating in one of my biggest plans for the summer because of what I’m working through. And my mind doesn’t like to just accept things for what they are. Oh, no. That would be too easy.

So it came up with this analogy. I think in life we are all given ropes. Thick ropes. These ropes are special, because throughout the course of our lifetime, they can be worn down and strengthened again to become even stronger, if the owner of the rope has the right tools to fix their broken rope.

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These ropes, given that they maintain their strength, are quite reliable and flexible. They can go through a lot, and each person’s rope has the capability to withstand different types of trials. However, life with a threadbare rope – I’d just call it a string by that time – is challenging.

And I believe that my rope has been worn to a string recently.

Discovering how worn my rope is has hit me like a rock. (For more of an explanation on how it got to this point, see my previous posts). I would consider myself to be a strong person, so having my rope be in the state it’s in can be especially confusing and aggravating. I need to repair and rebuild by string, but I know it’s going to be a process. And, in the meantime, I’m dangling. Being attached to a rope at such a flimsy state is difficult, because the once stable nature of it has dissolved and has left me hanging from what used to be a strong lifeline to a tether that is easily blown in the wind.

And the wind blows a lot.

I feel the wind move when I am reduced to an anxious state for no good reason.

I feel the wind move when I am reduced to an anxious state for an explainable reason.

I feel the wind move when I lie in bed at 4 AM, trying to process everything that is going on. (Hence this blog. See, 4 AM doesn’t have to be a bad time!)

I feel the wind blow when I realize the manifestations of my anxiety have still not been eradicated.

And I really feel the wind blow when I have to make decisions, which, although I ultimately know are for the good, severely hurt my heart.

But, despite all this, life could be much worse at the end of my string. There’s one IMG_2262.jpg more vital part of this analogy that I could never neglect to include. You see, God’s in this little equation of the rope and I, too. Perhaps some people would assume that He is the one holding the top of the rope, and become angry when the wind picks up and their rope has become threadbare, and life becomes a challenge.

However, much like in the poem “Footprints on the Sand,” I see God at the bottom of the rope with me – carrying me. When the rope becomes thin and the wind becomes unbearable, He is there to carry my weight. And He is the one who will ultimately provide me the tools to fix this rope and make it strong again. These tools can be through conversations with other people, medication, or a variety of other means.

In the end, although I’m scared to be as strong as I need to be to repair my rope, I’m beyond thankful for the weight God is carrying, and the tools he has given me to make the process easier. To close, I would like to share a verse that I have repeatedly returned to in this Season. I’m looking forward to seeing how my rope is doing by the next time I write here.

“You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.” –Psalm 18:28.

P.S. If you feel like your rope might be a little threadbare as well right now, feel free to reach out! People with damaged ropes help each other. It’s one of our tools. 🙂

About Brazil…Some Reflections from a Life Changing Trip and the Power of Being Open

Reflecting can be hard to do. At least for me, as a person who (occasionally) spends a little too much time musing about past life lessons, processing life events presents itself as a bit of a challenge. Nonetheless, today, a brief 24 hours after returning to my home country after my three week stay in Brazil, I decided to tackle the challenge.

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Most of my Wonderful Host Family

First things first: Brazil was incredible. I can’t even begin to describe how loved I felt staying with my incredible host family which consisted of my host mother, father, two teenage daughters, a sweetheart of a grandma, and other family members such as my host-great aunt who spent at least part of her time with us. The very fact that I was able to make lasting connections with a family I only knew for two weeks speaks volumes about the nature of these wonderful people.

I also had the honor of participating in several Brazilian activities which helped me at least scratch the surface in beginning to understand their fascinating culture. I was able to converse in Portuguese – at times by myself – with several people for lengths up to 30 minutes at a time (thank you João for the transformational car rides in which you were so patient with us!). I was able to learn how to make some Brazilian food, learn a little Samba, visit old friends, practice my martial arts skills (Mr. Lepkowski, you’d be proud!), see an autopsy at USP, shadow in a hospital, ride in a speedboat under waterfalls, and so much more.

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Practicing Capoeira – A Brazilian Martial Art

However, aside from these things, I also had a bit of a rough time working through some emotional challenges that I didn’t know I was ready to handle. (Get ready for the part of the blog I am slightly uncomfortable to write).

You see, I recently learned I have a bit of a chemical imbalance in my brain. Due to this imbalance, I sometimes feel abnormally anxious and depressed for no pinpointable reason (sure, that’s a word). It often manifests itself in unpleasant physically damaging ways that I am not proud of. On this trip, I had to face this challenge head on.

I suppose many factors contributed to the fact that I had several embarrassing mental breakdowns in several different locations on this trip. But, as one of our leaders, Julie Rushik, so kindly and patiently reminded me, I don’t have to understand my emotions or know for sure where they come from. I experienced the power of being open about these uncertain emotions. Julie encouraged me to share this challenge with the group at the end of the trip, and the moment I did, I felt a burden lift off of me. This is why I decided it would be therapeutic to share with you all through the form of this blog.

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Luciano and Nanda – I was also able to reconnect with Karen!

So, in the end, I realize there is much I need to work through. I know I could feel guilty or embarrassed about what happened, but I am choosing to be thankful. I am thankful because I now have the opportunity to spend time getting to know myself better. I’m thankful because I now feel free to be more open about this with God (as if He didn’t already know), friends, and family. And I desperately hope that it helps me to help others someday.

For all the leaders, both from Roberts and Brazil, who were involved in making this trip happen, thank you so much. So much.

It was life changing in ways I never could have predicted.