“In my personal experience, I find it very easy to get lost in the busyness of my days. It is easy to lose sight and completely forget about the mercy that God has given to me and my life, and instead fill in that mental space with “things to do” and “things to work on” and “things to improve”. I’ve learned that the world will always have another hat to wear, another responsibility to take on, and a new shoe to fill. In the midst of my compulsive need to control and perform, God continuously finds ways to interrupt my train of thought and remind me of the humble and broken space I’ve come from and still live within.
I can vividly remember two clear moments where God revealed how unhealthy my relationship with control was. The first moment was in the middle of a small counseling office, next to my fiance at the time (now husband), and across the room we were faced with a new set of mirrors (Bill & Damalie) that God forced us to stare at. Jordan and I were engaged for almost a year at that time, and our wedding was soon approaching. We were at the brink of calling off our wedding, and this was our last hope. We both walked into the room, wearing the masks we had grown so comfortable wearing and hiding behind, and sat down guarded, hoping that the other person would be exposed first.
My heart had been so torn from years and years of toxic and abusive relationships, that I had made a personal commitment to myself to never show my emotions or express my personal needs, and instead, replace it with an attitude to bulldoze through any performance-based activity so I could show the world just how great I was.
Pain and emotion were no longer allowed to exist in my world.
It was a false sense of control that I believed I had, but my relationship with Jordan was getting to the point where I could no longer hide who I truly was. All of my weaknesses were coming to the forefront, and I needed to find new survival techniques that would keep the little girl in me, away. In the middle of that room, I was guarded and prepared with my arsenal of arguments and justifications as to how the failure of our relationship was simply not my fault. Somewhere in the midst of our high-volume and accusatory conversation, Bill looked at me across the room and asked the question…
“Why won’t you let yourself cry?”
For anyone who has ever felt that deep physical sensation of exposure, knows just how brutal it can be. Out of all the things we were sharing in that room, somehow, Bill’s attention was brought to my serious attempts to control my emotional and physical image. I didn’t have an answer. We left that day, on a very long and painful car ride home of silence. With no other options, we made a decision to press in. We did eventually get married, and our communication skills improved as best as they could on the surface. From the outside looking in, we were better.
In actuality, we were getting better at brushing all things under the rug. We were showing up for months and months of counseling sessions, mindlessly doing our reading and homework, hyper-focusing on how we communicated with one another, purposefully choosing to walk around all of the weeds from our earlier life experiences, ignoring the need to heal and recover from our own personal traumas, and tricking ourselves into believing that we’d be able to have a full and fruitful relationship without uncovering the deeper insecurities in our own individual worlds.
I recall very vividly being at a wedding and feeling excitement after learning that I’d be sharing a dinner table with Bill. My compulsive need to control and manipulate my world, saw this to be an opportune moment to share just how great Jordan and I have been doing! (HA!) After some small talk between us both, I was once again confronted by the mirror that God had placed in my life years ago. He turned to look at my dinner setting, seeing a beautiful dinner accompanied by a big and beautiful glass of wine.
“Why are you drinking?” he asked.
“Why not? It’s a wedding! There is nothing wrong with my choice to have a glass of wine with dinner” I combated him with.
Never in a million years did I think that God would have been somewhere between Bill and I, in the middle of a very loud room, in the middle of a wedding celebration.
As soon as I spoke the words, I felt the serious power of revelation. I felt all the years of my alcohol and substance dependencies laid out on the middle of that dinner table, like taking a large purse and emptying out all of the contents. I felt naked, vulnerable, and not in the mood to be called out. What choleric ever wants to be called out? The truth was, God very divinely placed the one accountability mirror next to me that I couldn’t escape. He was the one accountability mirror that knew and understood my history of daily drinking, daily black-outs, constant drug usage and abusive relationships – all of which, were methods to numb the weight and pain of my insecurity-based needs to be the best. It was shortly thereafter, that I started a deeper spiritual journey to find out who I truly was, and to learn what God was truly calling me to do – not to continue doing what Amanda wanted to do. Just because we CAN do something, doesn’t mean we’re necessarily called to do it. It was time to stop hiding behind the curtain of “good enough”, and start pressing into the roots of all my codependent behaviors.
My journey has not been a perfect one. I am still regularly met with the frustrations of realizing that I am not meant to be God, that God is in full control, and that any plan I contrive in my own mind is not nearly as beautiful or fruitful as what God can do when I step out of His way.
Life is much less about having clarity, than it is about having the obedience to trust in Him without it.
A special point of gratitude to my husband, for being my rock and constantly bringing me back to God, and of course, to Bill & Damalie and the entire EIS team for constantly being the mirrors in our life that point right back to God’s grace in our lives.”
As most of you know, Amanda and I now work together. A daily reminder of God’s sovereignty. He knows who to put into our lives at just the right time. as evidenced by Amanda’s story. Not to mention that Jordan began a new leg of his spiritual journey as well during our times of meeting together. So blessed to know these two!
BH/Amanda Crystal Contributor