The pain inside me thickened. My fists clenched. My eyes sharpened. I screamed every possible insult I could think of at her. Don't get close to me. Don't touch me. You'll never understand! You want to see into my heart? There isn't one anymore, so go away. I am the listener. I am the shoulder. I am strong.
My childhood wasn't the easiest. I experienced a lot of loss, anger, and distrust. I never let anyone in. I was tough. I was strong. I was the one people cried on, not the other way around. My sharp tongue and quick wit were my weapons of choice, and it was a long time before I surrendered the war.
Freshman year was the lowest of lows for me. I experienced an anger like I never had before. I hated everyone and everything. I didn't want to be loved. I didn't want reconciliation. I wanted everyone to leave me alone, literally leave. I wanted to leave too. Forever. I had lost one of my best friends because of the way I treated her. My boyfriend at that time tried every way to love me, to be there. I said no. No one was breaking down the walls I worked so hard to build.
Spring semester I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and received the treatment I needed. I took the medicine, got the therapy animal, did the counseling. I was strong again. Little weak Miranda had vanished once more and I was back on top. I repeated my secret keeping patterns, only revealing the necessary feelings to hold onto a friendship by a thread. I listened. I offered wise advice. I told the story of my past: triumphant and victorious. I made sure to never talk about my feelings in the present. No one could know I was hurting. I couldn't let anyone in. I am the listener. I am the shoulder. I am strong.
And then God wrecked my world in the most unexpected, terrifying, beautiful way possible. I was engaged. We were together almost four years. It made sense to get married. We loved each other very much. I was looking forward to living in a little house. I had my dream dress hanging up in my closet, tried on every time I went home. Then it happened. A month before the wedding I felt the Lord say no. What do you mean no? Are you crazy, Lord? It's all ready to go. It's one month away. We’re doing this. There again was that still small voice. “Baby girl, no.” I was lost. I was confused. I was wrecked. And just like that, my dream was shattered. I clammed up. People would ask me questions and I would boldly say, “It was God’s will.” This will not break me. I am the listener. I am the shoulder. I am strong.
I don't have time to make this sound pretty so I'm just going to say it. It broke me. God broke me. My kingdoms fell faster and harder than I ever imagined they could. I just stood there, watching them burn. I yelled, “Jesus save them! Those are my dreams! You know that. You know that, Jesus.” But He stood there. He held my hand and we watched them burn together. I had nothing. I had no expectations. I had no plans. I lay in my friend's room and wept. I wasn't going to be a wife. I wasn't going to wear that beautiful gown or live in the tiny house. I was broken, disappointed, defeated. I grieved at the loss for a long time, still do sometimes.
But something changed in my life that day my fiancé and I walked away from each other. It was the first time I felt completely vulnerable. For the first time I was not the listener, I was not the shoulder, I was not strong. I knew I needed people. I needed friends. I needed raw, real friends that I could just weep with.
That same girl I screamed at freshman year to get out, to leave me alone, to not touch me… she didn't give up. She loved me. She and many others persevered through this heart of stone. I had a bad day this week. I sat in the corner of the student center and cried. That same girl came up behind me and hugged me, and said, “May I read with you?” I nodded and she sat right diddly next to me. Shoulder to shoulder. My tears continuously falling, her shoulders continuously catching. For the first time in a long time I was weak before a friend, and it was the strongest I've ever been.
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