When I was 15, life was tough. The boy I liked didn’t like me. And the boy who liked me wouldn’t leave me alone. My basketball coach didn’t care if I had asthma (or short, chubby legs). My friends and I were accused of being a clique. And my mom was always on my case for something.
Life was tough, I’m telling you.
Looking back, of course, I can’t quite summon the angst and anxiety of that freshman girl. It’s not that what I worried about wasn’t important; it was. But those things carry a different importance this far down the road. For example, it’s hard to remember just how desperate young, unrequited love can feel after being married for 10 years.
What I can recall, however, is the rock bottom feeling of being completely overwhelmed with life. Partly because the feeling was so strong then that even 16 years isn’t enough time to completely dull its pain.
Partly because in the deepest, most insecure part of my heart, I’m still 15.
And while that means I still occasionally have outrageous meltdowns that result in tears and tantrums and a crying hangover (yes, I know I have issues, thank you very much!), it also means I remember an episode from my freshman year of high school with unusual clarity.
The bathtub was clean and smooth. I knew without looking, because I’d been the one to scrub it. As exhausted as I was, I’m not sure it would have mattered anyway. I slid down the wall and curled up under the hot, pounding spray.
The tears began rolling, building speed and numbers until they seemed to replace the shower itself. My whimpering turned to sobbing, the gut-ripping kind that hurts more than it helps.
“I can’t do it. I just can’t do it anymore. God, I can’t.”
While I remember the crushing defeat and searing pain as clearly as if it happened this morning, I can’t tell you all the things that were hurting me that day. Yes, a boy was involved. And homework, I’m sure. Possibly a fight with my mom or a friend. And most definitely, my hair.
My hair was a big problem that night. The winter air and cold water had done their trick on my scalp, leaving me with itchy, mortifying flakes of dry skin.
And I couldn’t make it stop. I couldn’t fix my hair. I couldn’t fix my heart. I couldn’t fix my life. I was broken.
But something happened as I sat in my bathtub, sobbing my heart out and turning bright pink under the water. For at least one moment, perhaps for the first moment, I let go. I stopped trying to fix it. I stopped trying to be perfect. And I started letting God work.
I’d like to say that I remember this episode because, even more than the day I officially confessed my belief in Jesus and asked Him to forgive my sins, that moment was when I truly understood what it means to lean on God.
Honestly, though, I might have forgotten all about it if not for the miracle that occurred right there in my bathroom.
I had been battling my itchy head of hair for several weeks at that point. But from that day forward, my dry scalp was gone. Even when I switched back to my regular shampoo.
I know it sounds crazy, and maybe it is, but it’s true. And even though the last thing my poor head needed was to be soaked in a scalding hot shower, it turns out that was exactly what my heart needed. And God was generous and merciful enough to work on both my heart and my hair.
Since that shower, I have broken down many (MANY!) more times. And God has picked me up many more times. I guess it’s the way I’m made or the way I sin or something, but it’s what I struggle with: trying to do it all, trying to be perfect, trying to fix everything. Trying.
But God says, “No.” He says, “Rest in me.”
And sometimes, He says, “Here, I fixed your hair.”
Do you struggle to give control to God? Or the tendency to want to fix everything yourself? How has God reminded you to rest in Him?Leave a Comment
This post made me laugh and sigh and remember! Very encouraging 🙂 God really does provide in those “ok I give up and I’m going to sit and cry” moments. It always so comforts me to remember that He *sees* me and cares – even about things like itchy hair.
To answer your questions, yes it seems a continual struggle for me to have a restful heart, and not a striving for self-sufficiency one. Sometimes truly relying on the Lord seems such a mysterious concept. I think that for that reason, sometimes these breakdown moments, deep down, really bring me joy because I know that God is tangibly drawing me in and showing me anew how to depend on Him.
This verse speaks to me in this: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength…” Isaiah 30:15
I remember one evening in the middle of saying my prayers noticing that a scar on the back of my hand was gone. It had been there twenty years. Gone. I knew God was telling me that if he could heal something that I didn’t even regard as worthy of prayer, just imagine what he could do about the things I raised to him with my heart. Such a simple thing, a small scar. Like hair. God operates in the most mundane and profound and amazing ways right before our very eyes. I wonder how often his efforts go unnoticed.
Great post, btw.
I have so many moments where I’m just like, Lord take this mess that I call me and just fix it. I can’t handle it anymore… the dishes, the kiddos, my hubby leaving for Afghanistan and of course this rat nest upon my head most days 😉 I struggle to be perfect when really all I need is Jesus. His love and grace is more than enough. As I stare at myself head on in the mirror some days I just have to pick myself up and say well today is not such a good beauty day but it is God’s day so I will REJOICE and be GLAD IN it!! The next day.. I forget all about it and my hair is back to normal, soft, long and slightly orange ( last hair appointment did not go so well).I have to admit I am starting to love the “bad” days because without them, without the breakdowns, and bad hair the good days God provides would not be as sweet. Thank You Jesus for giving me good and bad days to remind me you are always at work in my life.
Jenna's Scribbles says
beautifully written and so true! <#
Oh, yes…I struggle with trying to do things myself. Mostly with seeing the areas that I are NOT working and trying to fix them rather than resting in Him and letting Him show me how He wants to work things together.
I always struggled (and continue to in a different way) with surrendering my siblings to God. The two oldest moved out from my parents house and, subsequently, moved away from God and their faith. When my sister moved 6 hours away from ‘my influence’ and I knew they weren’t going to church and that she wasn’t being the best parent to my nephew…you want to talk about control issues!?! I like to think I was young and naive (a 22-year old grad student) and tried to control her from 6 hours away.
That was 3 1/2 years ago. It wasn’t until this past fall that I had a friend help me realize that I can’t. change. her. And my nagging only hurts. God is the only one that can change her heart/attitude and draw her back to Him. At the same time, He’s drawn me closer to Him and shown Himself mighty in my life, and I’m so beyond thankful He has.
Do I still struggle with surrendering my sister? Yes. But do I do it as much? No. And when I do…I go cry in the shower and call out to Him in prayer. Break me! Help me to remember You. Control. Everything.
So encouraging Mary! A great reminder & illustration too:)
I am taking the sign on my closet door down. It says to “put on your big girl panties and just get it done.” Not any more. Problem…here is my God!
Needed this today……
My mantra could be, “Hello, my name is Lesley and I’m adicted to control.” It seems that every time I think that control does not have a grip on me, something happens to show me my sinful yucky self. The hardest time by far has been seeing one of daughters battle an neurological illness that the professionals cannot diagnose. It has been a scarey, frustrating, tear jerking, and fist waging time. However, it has also been a time of great bonding, reflection, and seeking my Fathers face on my knees. A very humble time indeed, but that is what God desires for His children….humility. Thanks for sharing your story, its so nice to hear about what God has done and is doing. :o)
hollywood housewife says
I used to cry in the shower when I was a teenager, too. When I was a teenager? Or maybe last month.
Strangely, I also pray in the shower. And I swear that’s when I can “hear” things best.
Cindy in PA says
Great post Mary! In the past I’ve tried to wrestle a problem and once it had wrestled me to the ground…..I would turn it over to God. I wish I could say that I don’t wrestle my problems anymore, yet do think my “wrestling time” is much reduced.
I turn over my problems more quickly now especially when I remember Psalm 46:10-11, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”
And I am thankful.
Ann Voskamp @ Holy Experience says
Thank you, Mary!
Isn’t God overflowing in grace and mercy?
Your words encourage…
donna o says
What’s that old bumper sticker phrase? “Let go and Let God!”…
Yep, many times I have had those bathroom moments when I thought life would consume me! He took control and He loves me in spite of the way I fight Him for the wheel! Thanks for sharing!
Cha Cha says
Miss Mary? You are lovely and amazing.
And, I will admit that while I once saw an old lady at church with a “Let go and let God” button and I wanted to punch her in the face, because what did she know about me and my life anyway?
Well, besides that?
God’s fixed my hair before, too.
Char Jagoe says
This one sure did speak to me. I’ve always been accused of trying to “fix things” in my family… until recently I discovered that I can’t. Only God can. Thank you Mary, for this reminder.
Cristal Ruiz says
God reminds me everyday to rest in him for years I tryed to “fix” my hubsand that if he could just see his anger the way I did. I know I got in Gods way so many times but I don’t what him to get hurt. Now I know that our best growing times is when there is pain. It’s still hard to just let God deal with it. Maybe this is not just his growing time but mine as well. Thanks for the reminder.
Hillary @ The Other Mama says
I love this- because I love you. This is so real and true- God works little miracles in our lives to show us that WE are a part of the big miracle. He has done it for me countless times and I am so encouraged when I actually recognize it.
And I have a hard time letting anybody else have control- but I’m working on it.
Work in progress, right??
Yep, Im such a fixer. Sometimes God has to give us a firm reminder that HEs the Ultimate Fixer! 🙂
Absolutely! Youd think I could just learn a lesson once, but no….
Ahh, Holly, I have gotten in Gods way more times than I want to admit. I pray that God can work through you and in your husband, and I am excited for the miracles that I KNOW you will see! 🙂
Oh, Cha Cha, how I love that you admit to wanting to punch a church lady! 🙂 God is pretty amazing with the hair-fixing (and of course, life-fixing) business. I guess since He made us, He knows how important our hair is!! 🙂
Yes, Cindy, thats exactly it! My wrestling time has been reduced, too – but wow, do I ever look forward to the day when I dont wrestle at all!
Thank you for your sweet words, Ann.
Ive said many times I do my best thinking – and yes, praying – in the bathroom. Something about the things we do in there require some relaxation, I think, that allows me to remember or realize whats really true and important.
Wow . . . I pray your daughter is diagnosed and treated SOON. What a hard time, but yes, what an amazing time for God to show you so many truths.
Ha! I love this!
Thank you for sharing your heart, Rebekah! I have struggled with trying to control family members, too, and it just never works out well when I think I need to be in charge!
I love your perspective on the bad days, Jennifer. Thats what I say about winter – without it, we wouldnt appreciate fall! (Or spring, but fall is MY favorite!)
Wow! Thats an amazing story – thank you for sharing!