The labyrinth of life

Image result for labyrinth churchAbout a week ago, I journeyed through my church’s labyrinth. The idea of walking this path, with intention–with pause–was intriguing.

…But it was also slightly scary.

As I began to walk the path, I tried to focus on my breathing. In….and out. In….and out. 

The journey to the center of the labyrinth is not a quick one. It took at least 15 minutes. In these 15 minutes, I found myself fighting off a barrage of feelings, thoughts, and emotions.

I am supposed to acknowledge the thoughts and emotions, and release them. I am supposed to breathe them out and find my way back to center.

know I am supposed to do this.

Yet, as I traveled the labyrinth, I found myself unable–and, perhaps, unwilling–to let it go.

It was here that I realized…as I walk this labyrinth of life–my life–there is so much I can’t seem to let go.

…walking on this path, I felt such a sense of injustice.

Injustice.

This is the most overwhelming emotion–the one that is taking over my core and weighing me down. The one that is making me feel stuck. The one that I can’t let go because, after years and years, I am finally acknowledging it.

Why??!! I want to cry out. Why? Why is this happening to me? Why did this happen to me? 

There is a little girl inside of me who is sobbing. Sobbing at how absolutely unfair it is that she never experienced love the way every precious child should experience it. Sobbing, as she remembers the constant rejection, the conditions placed upon any and all affection that was received, and the sense of failure that grew out the persistent need to try to be good enough for the love that she should have been inherently good enough to receive to begin with.

It is not fair.

It is not fair that, at the extremely vulnerable age of 6, I was filled with shame and secrets, unable to tell anyone what happened to me. I knew, even at this sweet and tender age, that I could not share what a grown man had done to me. At age 6, already, I had been conditioned to believe that it was my fault.

So much about my childhood feels unfair. Drugs, verbal abuse, manipulation…so much. I want to go back in time, hold that sweet little girl, and love her the way she should have been loved.

But, the labyrinth of life did not lead that direction. Here I am, continuing to twist and turn, trying to find the center.

That sobbing little girl is now a sad and crying thirty year old woman. A woman who is deeply aching for connection. For love. For a hug.

A woman who struggles, everyday, to see her own value. Who wonders, everyday, if she is worth loving.

I have begun this spiritual journey, hoping to be able to rely on something greater than myself. To find comfort. I hear, frequently, that I am a valuable and loved person–simply because God sees me that way and because I am made in his image.

I am told, over and over again, that God is always here. That he always has been there. That he is a part of me and, within my very center, lies his essence of goodness and love.

My question?

Where has he been? Where has he been as I’ve been walking this labyrinth, everyday of my life? Yes, I see the beautiful sunsets. I hear the chirping birds. I have enjoyed the miracle of childbirth and ten little fingers and ten little toes.

But, I’ve also been harmed. Hurt–sometimes, it feels, beyond repair.

There is goodness in my soul. Goodness and kindness in my actions.

But what about the loneliness? What about the constant ache that never seems to leave my body? Where is God in that?

How can I ever understand what it means to be loved, unconditionally, by a higher power, when I have never been loved, unconditionally, by the very people who should have shown this? How can I understand grace, when grace has never been shown to me? How can I trust something I can’t see, or hear, or feel, when I’ve rarely even been able to trust the things that I can? 

You can tell me that these things are true–but I have zero sense, zero understanding–of how these things should look, or what they should feel like. They are abstract–impossible to see and just as hard to imagine.

These are difficult feelings.

And so, a week ago, I walked the labyrinth at church. I reached the center, stood on one of the petals, closed my eyes, and tried not to cry.

Here I was, in the center. And I still felt alone. I still felt the burden of injustice consuming my soul. I ached at God–hoping for some peace and calm. For some sense of love.

I slowly walked out of the center, winding my way back through the maze to the exit. At this point, I recognized the deep hole that I was falling into. And yet, I could not stop myself. I fell, hard, remembering, triggering, and gasping, into that deep, dark hole that I hate.

I spiraled into a great ball of anxiety and depression. I panicked. I reached out. I self isolated. I needed.

Here I am, continuing to walk this labyrinth of life. Continuing to wonder. To hurt.

To wish.

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