"Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it." --Psalms 127:1
On Monday afternoon I had a break down of seismic proportions. It blew through me like an angry wind, unexpected and unrelenting. The external triggers were the usual suspects: a demanding, teething baby; a pregnant, tired, and hormonal mother; minute upon minute of mind numbing toddler games (stack the blocks! knock down the blocks! stack the blocks! knock down the blocks! stack the blocks! knock down the blocks! stack the blocks! knock down the blocks! stack the blocks! knock down the blocks! stack the blocks! knock down...argggggghhhhhhh!!). We are told in the scriptures that God will never give us more than we can bear. My only response to this is, "Heavenly Father, surely you understand a woman can only take so much block stacking in one afternoon."
But you know, the superficial triggers are rarely the issue. Our outside circumstances more often than not act as smoke and mirrors for the tumult brewing within. For me, the tumult has been growing since Ezra was born. During the past year I have faced more failure and disappointment than I can remember ever experiencing in such a condensed amount of time. I gave up my dream job, had a falling out with a close friend, took career and financial risks that have yet to pan out, grappled with some very difficult family circumstances, and was reminded day in and day out that I absolutely do not enjoy full time stay-at-home motherhood. Each one of these elements came to a head somewhere between the 10th and 11th round of block stacking on Monday afternoon, and I broke. My pain and disappointment and shame came tumbling out in great heaving sobs, and I had to call Jacob home to come pick my shaking body up off of the ground.
Now that I am a few days removed from the Monday Break Down Special, I can reflect on what happened with a little more clarity. I realized that I've spent my life carefully constructing an identity that rested tentatively on the blocks of career, education, and relationship successes. I saw myself a certain way based on external accomplishments and was desperately trying to maintain that vision of myself (as one does). Once I became a mother, the architecture of identity that I had so carefully constructed came tumbling down swiftly and gracelessly. Whoever I thought I was based on my accolades and relationships with others didn't exist anymore. A new vision of myself was born with the birth of Ezra, and I was (am) having a very hard time comprehending the blueprints of this new self.
Here is the important part, though: ITS OK BECAUSE THIS IS ALL PART OF THE PLAN. I am certain that one of the main reasons God has asked us to birth babies is because we are all in desperate need of the spiritual re-birth that comes from such an endeavor. We all have vanity and pride and carefully constructed identities that need to be demolished so that God has room to build something infinitesimally more god-like within us. Only the most enlightened among us can do this kind of ego dismantling willingly and gladly. Most of us must be compelled to do so. I must be compelled to do so. Parenthood, and motherhood in particular, are merciless wrecking balls used in such ego decimation, and God--as the true architect in this story--oversees the destruction and says, "It is good."
Today I can forgive myself for breaking down as I now understand it as the inevitable expression of the sorrow we all feel when the old self dies and the new self is born. It is painful to lose the vision we had for ourselves even when God's vision for us is so much grander. I am not fixed. I am still a work in progress. I am still in shambles. But I have faith that with each passing day these pieces of me are being reassembled into a necessary and divine construction. It must be so. For each of us. As God is our architect.