“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.“
– J.K. Rowling
J.K. Rowling is one of my favorite authors; I’m crazy about Harry Potter and have made several attempts to move into the fantasy world that she created.
She is a renowned writer; selling over 450 million copies of her work and earning a net worth of 650 million dollars. She’s married with kids, I’m sure a beautiful home, no financial burdens and all of the respect in the world. Not many view her as a failure in the least bit.
But what a lot of people don’t know is that before J.K. Rowling published her first book, she was divorced, a single mom and struggling hard to make it by. During this period of her life it probably felt like she was failing. This was probably the portion that she refers to as “rock bottom.”
I found myself in a similar place of rock bottom this past year. It was the first really difficult season of my adult life. And to all of the people that know me personally it very much so looked like I had failed;
The reputation that I tirelessly worked to build was compromised.
The security and foundation that I had built was crumbling.
Almost all of my relationships had disappointed me in one way or another.
The path that I had chosen for my life all of the sudden didn’t look so clear. It actually looked a lot like a battle field that I had to walk through by myself.
I found myself crying, a lot. I found myself praying, a lot.
I spent my time putting out fires while creating new ones.
I didn’t have a job. I didn’t have much support. I didn’t have purpose.
For the first time in my life I didn’t feel like everything was going to be okay.
I went from being the girl preaching Jesus & hope to the girl (desperately) needing both.
Depression started to settle in. I started to run away emotionally and physically, spending weeks at a time away from my home.
I became frustrated, embarrassed and somewhat obsessed with everything that people were saying about me… If I couldn’t wrap my head around what was going on in my personal life, how could they?
From the outside looking in, it had looked like I royally screwed up, failed and had ‘gone off the deep end’ as many put it.
The worst part about rock bottom is what it does to your self worth.
I had let everyone’s judgements, rumors, cold-hearted mean messages and well-intended mean messages rip me apart.
I used to think so highly of you.
I used to admire you.
I used to want to be like you.
What happened to the girl who used to be this…
For someone who thrives on appealing to & pleasing others, that was a hard pill to swallow.
So what did I do that was so bad, you ask?
The answer is different depending on who you ask. But they all boil down to one thing:
I had failed.
But if you’ve ever been to rock bottom you’d know (or maybe you’re finding out) that you have a choice; you can stay or you can go.
Rock bottom was so uncomfortably abnormal for me that I could not stay.
So what did I choose to do? I gave myself a public platform where I share my thoughts and promote myself during the most humiliating and uncomfortable time in my life.
Seems logical, right?
At a time where I should have deleted my face off of social media all together, I started a blog and a brand and put myself out there; completely vulnerable.
I had to do it. My choice didn’t really seem like a choice at all.
I had to prove to myself and to people who watch my life that I’m still breathing. I’m still a human being, all 118 pounds of me. I still have a pulse which means that I still have a purpose. I have a voice.
My place of failure became my place of strength.
In the same moment that I felt like I had lost my voice in this world, I gained it.
I refused to be tossed aside and disregarded like some mistake. I refused to be thought of as a failure; by my self or anyone else.
WHAT GOT ME THROUGH;
Your failure is more afraid of you than you are of it.
Remember when you were afraid of bugs? And your parents would tell you that you’re bigger than that bug… It is more afraid of you than you are of it.
I found serious hope in this small truth. I actually use it to boost my confidence in all a lot of areas of my life! But the truth is that I was bigger than any mistake I could have made. Or any failure that I could have created.
I was bigger and more significant than the rumors or the insecurity or the mess.
& one step further, my God is bigger than me and my mess.
As soon as I looked my failure in the face, it didn’t seem so big anymore. Then all of the sudden it didn’t really look like much of a failure at all.
I’m not powerful enough to mess up my life.
In the midst of my failure, I was most concerned about how my mess was going to effect the rest of my life. I didn’t want to carry this weight on my shoulders. I didn’t want to struggle. I didn’t want to be the mess that I was being made out to be.
But I read a quote (if you’re ever down, you should read quotes) by Lisa Bevere that said
“If you think you’ve blown God’s plan for your life, rest in this. You, my beautiful friend, are not that powerful.”
That’s the truth. I wrote a really powerful piece on grace where I talked more about this, but there is absolutely nothing that you can do to mess up your life so much that God can’t help you clean it up.
Resting in this truth helped to take almost all of the pressure off my shoulders. It helped me to remove myself from myself and realize that it’s okay to make ‘mistakes.’ It’s okay for things to not go as planned. It’s okay to change your mind or want something different. Because God can meet you there, at that cross roads, and guide you.
You are very powerful, but not powerful enough to toss yourself aside like trash.
Something new is happening.
Isaiah 43:9 says This is what the Lord says… I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
Another version says… I am doing a new thing.
I very much felt like I was in the wilderness or a wasteland. I didn’t know why or how I had gotten myself in the place, but I was there. And so was God.
Even when it felt like He wasn’t listening, He was there.
Even when I would write prayer letters to Him (somewhat expecting him to go Tom Riddle on me and write back) He was there, hearing me.
The whole time He was doing something new. He was making a way for me. ME. Because He works all things out for MY good (Jer. 29:11) I can make my bed in hell and he’d still be there (Ps. 139).
The truth about something new is that if your life never looks differently than it does right now then you’re not growing.
Rock bottom; a place that I used to fear the very most had become my new foundation. While I didn’t love my stay there, I hold the experience very close. I can’t describe to you the hunger that I gained there or the gratefulness or perspective.
In a weird way, I somewhat bonded with my mess. I was so scared in the middle of all of it and couldn’t wait for it to pass but looking back, I want to hold onto it for just a second longer;
I want to bottle up the person that I became during that time and sip it every single day. I never want to forget what it feels like to be humbled. I never want to think I’ve made it or I’ve got it or I’ve finally arrived at success.
I never want to forget that everything is temporary. Tomorrow is never promised.
I want to hold onto that moment that I experienced every single morning when I woke up and felt my eyes blink open to another day of this shit storm. The gratefulness I felt to have made it one day closer to the other side.
I most importantly never want to forget how it felt to feel forgotten or judged or manipulated or used.
My place of rock bottom and failure changed me.
That girl that people used to look up to doesn’t stand a chance against the woman that I am today. Right now.
In conclusion, I did fail. By every meaning of the word, I failed. But on that failure, I found my truth and my light and my passion and my purpose.
Failure is no more of a temporary destination than success is, so if and when you find yourself there… cherish it.
I hope this post inspires you to not only have hope, but to hold on to the place that you’re finding yourself in right now. It is going to be the most valuable experience of your life.