So, what comes after the breaking point? I know – most of us try desperately to avoid the breaking point in the first place! But sometimes, despite our best efforts, we hit it. The prolonged illness, the financial struggles, the threat of looming divorce. Despite your planning, your coaxing, your exhaustive efforts, you hit a wall that you can’t go under, you can’t climb over, you can’t get around, and even though you’ve thrown yourself at it again and again, prayed about it, fasted over it, sacrificed for it, you can’t get through it. Your confidence was misplaced. You’re stuck, and well, you’re at your breaking point.
I think it’s important for me to confess something here. I’m a Christian. Not the perfect kind, where everything I’ve done has always been good. Now, any real Christian would tell you that no one except Jesus has been that good, but I’m not even the “cool” kind who led a really rough life and then got saved and has been living the perfect life after that. I’m the kind who’s made a lot of mistakes and blown it so many times – on both sides of my salvation – that I really think it’s easier for God to throw them all into the sea of forgetfulness than it is for Him to remember them all.
I’m the guy who fights against the breaking point by trying to deny it, navigate around it, and “faith up” over it.
But sometimes, I can’t. The pain is too great, or the smaller pains too many, or past regrets come back to re-haunt again, again, again. And can I be open? Sometimes it’s all of the above, all at once, your own personal brand of Hell come knocking at your door, in the mail, inside your mind. I just came through one of those “special” times. It’s been a crescendo of hurt and sorrow that began a few years ago with the death of both of my parents – 17 days apart, and in the same month my older brother, my first real hero – had passed away years earlier. Suddenly my remaining siblings and I became orphans. The response of my employer at the time was not all that supportive: “I don’t think teleworking will work any better from a funeral than it would from a hospital room” was one of the texted statements. I still had it better than one of my sisters; compared to her, my employer rolled out the red carpet.
Then my other sister developed heart problems. My marriage started evidencing real trouble as more than one close family friend passed away. It even affected our dog, whose love for the family made Lassie look like a junkyard mutt. She had a great run but we had to put her down. And that was all BEFORE 2020. COVID hit, my wife left. 2021 saw the divorce of my 30-year+ marriage finalized practically the same week my sister – the one with the heart problem – lost her battle with cancer. I know for a fact I left a lot of things out, particularly on the job side, but this is a blog not a full-length series. It’s 1AM as I write, and I think it’s cryptically iconic that my next door neighbor’s dog just started howling – right now – as I type. Like I said, Hell came knocking with the subtlety of a Roman battering ram. Even my next door neighbor’s dog feels it, and all I’m doing is just typing it out. You should have been there, mate. I was. Stuck. Frozen. Couldn’t even get myself together enough to write a page, and it was far too close-up for me to blog about. Maybe you could – if so, my hat’s off to you. I couldn’t.
But something really cool happens when you hit the breaking point. You get special Bible verses in your normal day-to-day reading that point specifically to your problems and offer support in the crunch. You find you have friends who really ARE willing to march right into Hell with you. Blows are traded; wounds are received, wounds are healed. You find a place of strength you never knew you had before, you find a Peace that truly is inconceivable in your mind but exists anyway. And yes, to complete the nod, I really DO know what that word means.
You find out that your breaking point is also the breaking point of the pain. I know it sounds weird, but as long as you resist it, you absorb the punishment. But when you admit you’re in over your heart, over your head, over your soul, and over your body, you offer the pain something it never expects – an exit strategy. You offer the wounds something they never expect – complete healing. And you offer those around something you never expect – hope and encouragement. Because somewhere deep down inside they know their turn is coming, or maybe is already going on but they’re not in a place to begin to explain it, but they just saw you go through what you did and come out the other side.
I write speculative fiction in which I hope to explore some of the questions well, but I don’t pretend to know all the answers. I have my grounding in Christianity and it has been a true Godsend throughout this time, in so many areas both intrinsically and extrinsically, that I simply cannot begin to describe the strength and comfort I felt. Let’s just say I don’t hang on to my faith, the source of my faith hangs on to me. Am I past it all yet? With the world’s political climate, I somehow don’t think so. But I’m stronger and more ready to meet what’s up ahead.
And I’m writing again.
Even the dog next door just quieted.