Yep. You read that title correctly. Heart shaped vomit. And yes, there is a story to tell. A story that I’ve been needing to tell but have avoided for a myriad of reasons.
Over the past several weeks, I have felt the weight of everything around me slowly begin to pile up . . . but I was unaware. Unaware that the choices I was making were in line with our culture today. The gravitational pull had me believing the lie that everything was up to me. I needed to come through for everyone. I was exhausted. I was pouring out to those around me. To those I love. But I myself, was empty. Yet I couldn’t stop. Who was going to feed my children? Who was going to get my kids to their events at school? What will others think of me if I don’t come through for them? As I pressed on, I looked left and there was heart breaking news. I looked right and there was joy pouring in for others. And there I stood, feeling alone. Feeling invisible. Wondering if anyone could see beneath my forced smile that I was hurting. On the verge of a complete breakdown. While a grateful few asked how I was doing, the number could be counted on one hand. The lie was refueled that I am on my own and it’s all up to me. The small choices to care for and guard my heart felt questioned and I began to feel backed into a corner. I had no voice to yell, ‘What about me!? Do I matter!? Does my heart matter!?’ I felt this silent whisper in the air telling me that if I don’t have a smile on my face even in the midst of the hard, than I must be failing. If I don’t immediately respond with God is amazing and we’re doing fabulous, all the while I continue to grieve the loss of my mom and the absence of my husband while on a deployment, than I pretty much suck and am a worthless person who claims to be a Christian and love God.
On a morning where I was feeling especially anxious and overwhelmed, I walked into my home to discover a small pile of red vomit on the carpet in my family room. My immediate internal response was, ‘Are you kidding me!? Another project! Another person/thing that needs my time and attention. F$#@%! I’m done!’ As I began working to clean up the mess, I noticed a shape emerging. I quickly refuted what I was seeing until I could no longer deny it. It was a heart. ‘Seriously, God. This is not a time to be funny. I am not in the mood. You do understand how completely invisible I feel right now and how I am utterly overwhelmed by the needs of everyone around me and their desires for me to come through for them. And as you can see, even the f$#@%ing dog needs me. This is NOT funny God! I do not need a heart shaped vomit stain on my family room carpet for all of the world to see that I am a f$#@%ing mess and don’t have it all together!’ As I was having this conversation in my head, I could sense my Father smiling at me . . . and maybe a little bit of laughter too . . . but so much love and compassion.
As I was encountering battles, experiencing pain and witnessing the hard of our world, my Father wanted to meet me there. But I neglected to invite Him in to those spaces. Instead, I built a tin woman. As each piece of the pain, the hard, the demands, the pressure of others piled up, the building of the tin woman began. The weight of each piece of metal began to feel heavier and my heart became inaccessible. Rather than putting on the armor of God, I was putting on an armor of fear and control. An armor of pose. An armor of defensiveness. Sitting on my living room floor, scrubbing away at the heart shaped vomit stain, the tears began to flow. Holy tears. I felt a small release in the tension my shoulders and neck had been carrying. While I would love to say my tears magically made everything better, they did drip life giving oil down upon my tin woman’s dry bones.
While I can laugh about the heart shaped vomit stain on my carpet today, I could not laugh about it in the moment. I was empty. I was broken. I was angry. Each day my eyes catch a glimpse of the stain on my carpet, I smile, take a deep breath and feel the wrap around presence of my Father. Each day my eyes catch a glimpse of the stain on my carpet, I smile, take a deep breath and feel permission to say no with graciousness, releasing one brick over to my Father, maintaining the boundaries necessary to care for my heart. While I confess I am one who loves a clean and tidy house. One who loves to serve others and please those around her. I’m thinking I may leave that heart shaped vomit stain on my carpet for awhile. A gentle reminder to me of Who sees me when I feel unseen. Who loves me when I feel unloved. Who wants to be invited into my mess . . . even in the vomit.
Psalm 121:1-2 NIV
I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.