I am nervous to push publish on this post. But there is freedom in sharing the hard, true things. In an act of vulnerability I (Mickenzie) want to share a beautiful gift I just received. You can see it below. It’s a bit rough around the edges, the leather is well worn, and it’s endured a few seasons. Therein lies it’s beauty.
In May, in the midst of the anxiety I’ve mentioned a little in the last few months, I made a scary decision. My anxiety was not like I had experienced in any other season. I’ve always been a “worrier,” even from an early age. I grew up praying away my “worries” with my momma. It didn’t intrude too terribly in my daily life.
When I went to college I had a rough patch. It is probably the most like the season I’ve been in that I can remember, in regards to my emotional state. To be blunt I was miserable. I was anxious, I didn’t eat much, I couldn’t sleep. So much change. So much new. And I felt like the vision I had of myself was in question. The ways that I defined myself: strong, independent, capable, they no longer fit in my mind. Who I thought that I was didn’t add up on paper. Looking back I was still all of those things, but I didn’t feel that way at the time, and the source of those attributes was a bit skewed. I wasn’t placing my worth in Christ. That season ended. It was a season, and I looked back on it as if it was all because I didn’t like change. I never once pushed past that. I blamed myself for going to school and not seeking God, and thanked Him for correcting my path and sending me to U of M. End of story.
In March I got a new promotion. I was ecstatic, but a bit fearful. The transition was not as flawless as I had envisioned. I needed more grace than I’d expected. I felt a little more unprepared than I’d planned. It was a spiritual battle daily as I took on direct contact with the former residents of our program. I loved what I was doing, but old lies began to creep up, this time with a vengeance. Mixed with the massive amount of change (so much good change) over the last year, I found myself grasping for solid ground. I once again didn’t think that I was strong, independent or capable. I began having panic attacks, stomach issues, sleepless nights, tears upon tears, and crippling fear. I knew I needed to figure out the root of all this, something I quickly realized I was not equipped to do alone. With the support of my sweet husband, who was as equally scared as I, I decided to seek out Christian counseling.
I felt a severe sense of shame even considering counseling as I daily deal with girls who are struggling with life controlling issues. I began to question my calling and telling myself that I was not worthy or able to help the girls to whom I was ministering. They are remarkable, brave and amazing women, who did I think i was? It was a lie, but the Enemy is crafty. The Lord used so many people in my life to confirm that counseling is a sign of health and a desire for growth (something I tell my girls on a daily basis). He confirmed that He had ordained this time for me to delve into this through my community. Additionally He brought me so much joy in my job and reminded me that my job was an answer to prayer and the fulfillment of a huge dream.
Entering counseling, God gently and repeatedly reminded what I’m made for. I felt alot of shame for not performing to the standard I’d set for myself. I expected myself to be something I would NEVER ask anyone I love to be. Shame is something I tackled head on within my first few sessions. I realized that when faced with situations that made me doubt my preconceived notions of strength, independence and capability I no longer felt worthy. I felt shame for struggling. I felt shame for needing. I felt shame for crying. I felt shame for being confused. I felt shame for uprooting our lives and moving to Nashville and then doubting my calling. I felt shame for not being the wife I’d imagined I’d be. I was a big pile of shame. God gently reminded me that no shadow of shame shall darken my face. I found comfort and love when I reached out to those in my support system. I felt a sigh of relief when I was able to allow myself to “just be.” I found freedom in releasing my previous understanding of strength. I grasped grace at an unfathomable new level. I learned alot in counseling, so much I can’t quantify it. But a large portion of my growth was surrounded around reclaiming my identity, as a daughter of the King, as a wife, as an fighter of injustice, as a daughter, as a sister, as a friend, as Kenzie my Heavenly Father’s Little One.
I finished my time of counseling tapering off from weekly, to every other week, until 3 weeks passed before my last session. My counselor challenged me to write a letter from my future self to my current self. I was nervous, but it end up being an amazing exercise. I was able to process what I learned and the ways God has stretched me. I was able to see the ways that God fought for me, and how He taught me to fight for myself. I could go on and on about all that God did. But I will just say that I have learned how to fight and trust God when I don’t necessarily see evidence that He’s there. My faith has been tested, my marriage galvanized, and my identity cemented.
I haven’t had a panic attack since May. I have found skills to cope with anxiety. I have accepted that anxiety may be a part of my life, but it does not have to dictate my life. After reading my letter to my counselor, she had tears in her eyes. She reminded me all that I had learned. She spoke truth to me, and she gave me one last gift. My counselor told me that I saw myself as weak at the beginning of this season, but she was sure that looking back I would find the last season of my life as one of the times of the most strength. I found strength in my weakness. She told me that someone had once seen strength in her and she wanted to pass on the above bracelet to remind me that I am strong, she asked me to pass it on when I felt the time was right to help someone else find their strength.
What an amazing gift to celebrate this hard, gut wrenching, phenomenal season. I’m not done, I’ll never be, but I will celebrate and commemorate.
My God is so faithful, even when I doubt Him.
A huge shout out to Paul Robert Vought who lived out his marriage vows during this season. On August 3rd, 2013, he promised: “I will never leave you. I am yours. I will stand by your side in all seasons.” We feel loved the most in the places where we can be the most vulnerable. I am blessed to be so loved. He daily reminds me with whom my identify and strength lie. I am a better woman because I am his wife.
I love you and I am thankful for you all!