I have been on this precipice many times in my life. Sometimes I found myself there from choices I made, but many times I found myself looking off a cliff from situations that simply presented themselves.There are a few choices we can make when we find ourselves here:
- a cliff with a vertical, nearly vertical, or overhanging face.
- a situation of great peril: on the precipice of war.
- Go back the way we came and deny it.
- Find other routes to escape it.
- Face and accept the seemingly impossible challenge.
I have tried all three! I can say, without a doubt, facing and accepting our challenges is the only choice we have to growing healthy and moving forward.
I have had situations all my life in which I had to choose not to give up. I was born to overcome; nothing in my life has been easy for me. I was the youngest of five, born into a turbulent time. My mother had given up and over to alcoholism, and my dad was an oft-absent traveling salesman. I got a lot of attention early on for being the “baby”, but that soon lost its luster, and I usually felt like I was just in the way, the third (or fifth) wheel, and definitely not preferred over anyone else in the family. Although I now see everyone was trying to do the best they could, the attachments at home were not secure for me. I was abused in different ways, which further lead me to finding my own ways to detach and protect myself.
Elaine Aron, in her book The Highly Sensitive Person, says:
All childhoods are not equal. Some are truly horrible. And they can differ within the same family. Statistical analyses of the influence of family environment on different children in the same family show no overlap. Your brothers or sisters lived a totally different childhood. You had different positions in the family, different early experiences, even in a sense different parents, given how adults change with circumstances and age.
When I was in middle school and high school, I had the potential and some outside encouragement to really excel in music or writing, but I think the lack of concern at home made me lose motivation to exert any effort. I regret, yet accept not having the wherewithal to take advantage of those opportunities better. I felt unnoticed by my family whether I did something really well or not, so I took the path of ease. There was no support or excitement about what I might become; I only felt the annoyance of others if I asked for help. I have in recent years recognized when those feelings resurface as an adult, and have seen the same scenario play out in my marriage at times.
It has required a lot of dependence on God, prayer, and therapy to work through these deep wounds that have affected my person, marriage, and my own family. First and foremost, I have to believe that I am loved, accepted, pleasing, and forgiven by God. This is where all of my significance lies. I have found Robert McGee’s book Search for Significance to be authoritative on this subject and extremely healing to me.
When you find yourself stuck in life or turning to things you never thought you would engage in to get relief, you owe it to yourself and others to take the time to find out why. We deceive ourselves when we think we can leave one bad situation and move into another one that will magically be healthy without any work. It is a process and a journey that is lived one healing minute and hour at a time.
When you find yourself with your back against the wall, suffocating in the hopelessness, what are you going to do? Remember the three choices from the beginning: we can go back the way we came or stay in the same old ruts and familiarity, but I challenge you that is not the way of healing. We can find other routes and escapes. Again, this is where dependence or addiction to drugs and alcohol, and idolatry of every kind comes in. We can choose it, but it will take us in to a greater bondage than the momentary relief it brings. I have made this choice in a variety of ways, I have been destitute, shed many tears and almost completely lost hope for choosing this way.
The third choice, however, is facing and accepting that our situation is hard and taking that challenge. This is difficult, but healthy, because it is walked out in truth. Of course, I am not suggesting that you should remain in a state of hopelessness or receive any kind of abuse. God came to set the captive free and loose the chains of bondage. We are not living healthy lives if we are enabling others to abuse us and perpetuate the cycle. God calls us out of darkness and into His light, and sometimes it is a bloody battle to get there.
I am saying that when we find ourselves in desperate situations, that is usually an alarm that there is something to address. This alarm contains the perfect opportunity for healthy change. The thing about precipices is that there is something vast waiting on the other side, a lively and healthy adventure that you will never know unless you decide within yourself that this is the way of peace, even if it is difficult.
Whether you are in a circumstance of your own making or have done nothing to deserve your position, do not give up! Take courage! Forgive yourself, love yourself, realize that you are accepted and pleasing to God and that that is more than enough, even if others are rejecting you.
I bought a plaque to hang on my wall. I bought it after I had caused a great disturbance in the lives of many because of some of my behaviors. It says: Let your courage set you free! I still look at it and am strengthened by it. I am weak, but Jesus says, “When you are weak, I am strong in you.” That gives me courage. I do not have to muster something that I do not own, but I can let Him do it through me as I am a container pouring out. He can supernaturally change situations if we are open to Him and have faith in Him to change us and change the situation.
You have to believe that you were created for something greater than you can imagine. Maybe you have been climbing up a sheer cliff for many years; you haven’t reached a plateau or a resting spot in what seems like forever. I understand! My husband and I have gone from one hard or devastating circumstance to the next. Even if I chose to escape for a while, I eventually had to return to the place that I needed to accept the situation and see how I could change or grow while going through it.
It’s like being in labor with a baby; at the point that you think you cannot go on in labor, the baby is just ready to emerge. Every single time I was reaching a precipice, it felt excruciating, like I didn’t have the energy to go on. But every single time, there was freedom and a higher understanding on the other side. Just over the crest is where new life begins; there is no turning back when you keep that perspective.
So, the message that burns within me is this: You are not alone! Do not give up! You are only on the edge of a precipice.