From the desk of Lauren Palmer
Do you feel lost? I do.
…or, at least, I did. I felt anxious and stressed and confused and I had no idea why the effort I exuded each day seemed to go nowhere and accomplish nothing. Have you ever felt that way, as though you were spinning on a hamster wheel? Lots was done, but no ground was covered. It felt like my energy was damming up around me, blocking anything good I created from expanding and serving others, and it kept positive energy from finding me. This was true about work, it was true about my family, it was true about my friendships. It was all encompassing and extended to every area of my life.
I felt tense and unhappy.
I felt a little crazy.
And I felt completely lost as how to navigate through the darkness and uncertainty. I cried. I stared. I was frozen. I was in pain. I was angry. I was blocked. I was insecure. I was untrusting. And I hit rock bottom, not in the dramatic manor that may come to mind when the term “rock bottom” is presented, though. It didn’t involve an arrest, physically dangerous behavior, or the destruction of a friendship or relationship. There was no 3-day booze or drug bender. It had nothing to do with clinical depression or a mental breakdown. My rock bottom could be summed up like this: chronic, severe discontentedness and confusion, and I wallowed in rock bottom for months. My rock bottom wasn’t a one-time thing. It is where I lived.
For the most part, outwardly everything seemed relatively “fine.” I still saw friends. I went on date nights with my husband. My kids were happy and thriving. I smiled and laughed at times. I still prayed…sometimes. Those close to me may have noticed I was distracted or stressed. Maybe I didn’t call or text quite as often as I normally did, but when we were together nothing had changed. Except, maybe there was a “tightness” about me.
My most important relationship, that with Brian, is probably who witnessed and felt the rock bottom the most. I confessed to him daily how confused I felt by my lack of “traction” for lack of a better word. I once described to him that I felt like a ball hanging on the end of a string, unable to plant my feet on solid ground so I could take off running and create momentum. Instead I remained suspended in air, dangling.
Like a champion he listened. Always. He listened, remained silent, and allowed me to talk. At times I felt angry that he provided no solution, but now on the other side, I see the solution to my rock bottom lied only with me. The genesis of my rock bottom could be traced back to no one but myself. There was no unfair circumstance, no person, no glitch in the universe that could take responsibility. Listen up friends, because the recognition and acceptance of this next sentence is what changed my life from then on out, maybe it will change yours.
My rock bottom was due to the height of my ego.
Yes, you heard me correctly. My ego was out of control.
An image of a cocky high school football player may come to mind when I say the word “ego”: Shoulders back, smug expression intact as he struts down a high school hallway, but that depiction isn’t fitting here. Instead, my egotism took form as it usually does in us humans, as a dark, selfish twin that choked my spirit and smothered my light. It’s a twin, friends. It looks just like you. So be careful.
The egotistical twin is a far cry from Whole, Perfect, Complete Child of God that you actually are. In fact, the ego twin of Lauren was completely disconnected from God. It was me and me alone, calling every shot.
My ego would decide, “Today I’m turning left,” and then would cavalierly pray, God please bless my day as I turn left…as if that meant my steps were holy or God-derived. I NEVER took one minute to listen or receive. I made the decisions. I “solved” the problems. I answered to me. I furnished the creativity. I gave the directions. I asked the questions. I considered the responses. I, I, I, I, I…I…I…
…until “I” could no longer manage.
There are limits, friends, to what and how much we can handle disconnected from God. The ego twin relies on our human bodies and minds whereas our true selves, our W-P-C Child of God selves rely on something, someone eternal and much stronger. Some might say that to control ego, one must remain grounded. I considered what I believe this word to mean and came up with this definition: “remaining humble regardless of how one might perceive their position in the world.” The notion that ego doesn’t exist if humility is in place makes sense. However, I believe the true antidote to egotism lies in a spiritual place, a connected place.
Once I made the choice to end my rock bottom, I sat down and faced God for the first time in months. We had what I liken to the “airing of grievances,” a tradition from Seinfeld when George Costanza’s father celebrates his made-up holiday, Festivus. It basically consists of telling the people in your life all the things they have done to disappoint and fail you. That was me. I aired all my grievances. I told the Creator of the entire universe everything He had done wrong.
During this spiritual one-sided argument, I told God why I was so angry with Him. I listed every reason. I yelled. I told him how cruel he was. I didn’t hold back. I, I, I, I, I… He listened while I drained my ego. And then it was just me, the real me. And there was finally space for us to interface. You see, ego can’t exist when you’re stripped of everything in front of God, or at least it can’t for long. Our true self, our W-P-C Child of God selves want to connect in His presence when we are stripped of all that other crap. For the first time in maybe forever, my soul was completely quiet. My ego was shredded and called out as the imposter that it was, and I was able to hear God. I asked what He wanted me to know? And He said, reattach your soul to me. So, I did. I asked what he wanted me to do. And He said, repent. I did that too. I asked how to believe that good is coming, and He said, faith.
How do I trust you?
He said, “I am.”
How do I forgive you?
He said, gratitude.
And there was peace.
The maniacal ego twin was gone. My light was dim, but free. And the chronic, severe discontentedness and confusion inside of me released.
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