People may experience different psychosomatic symptoms during emotional crises, but the reality that the emotional affects the physical is no less true. Right now, I feel like every part of my body is trembling. I’ve completely lost my appetite. Food is an object rather than something I desire. I find sleep elusive. My heart beats so strongly I feel its rhythm in my ears. My circulation doesn’t seem right because I am both too hot and too cold. My extremities are tingly. I am one thought away from tears at all times. My digestion is abnormal. And forget the butterflies; I have spiders in my stomach.
Why? I am confronting my over-two-and-a-half-decade-long deepest fear – and not just confronting it, but swimming in it, soaking in it, drowning in it. And instead of finding freedom, I find sickness because everything I feared would happen did – and is. Even more so. Still.
Okay so, remember how I said I’m a closet atheist Christian missionary female? Well, these past couple days our leaving America and returning to the overseas mission field became a reality. We received some administrative approval we had been waiting months for. This meant we had two choices: (1) Go overseas and put a few more nails and years in our coffin, I mean closet. (2) Don’t go and reveal to hundreds of people that have been helping us along this journey that we are no longer going to be missionaries. We’ve been considering these two choices for months, but every time we think about number 2, we shudder in fear of extreme disappoint and disapproval of every single person that knows and loves us. Not to mention it would make us jobless and homeless.
But the call of authenticity and freedom has grown louder and louder, and I’m so tired, just absolutely exhausted and stifled, from living a lie. So we decided to jump out.
What is out?
We didn’t even say “atheism” or “change of beliefs” yet. All we said was that we weren’t going because it no longer felt right to us and we didn’t have peace about it anymore. Some people supported us. But those closest to us………… I was not prepared for their fire.
I tremble now replaying the words I heard them speak to me, to my husband. Betrayal, they said. I thought that we could gradually introduce them to our new set of beliefs, but the extreme pain that I feel as a result of their venom makes me simultaneously feel like I have to tell them I’m an atheist (because I can’t go through this again when we do), and yet so entirely and utterly unsafe to do so.
My heart is in a blender and my mind is staring at it. Logically, I can overcome this. I know that I must be free from them, from their power over me, from this deep deep fear that has lurked in the depths of my soul my entire life. But emotionally, this is suicide.
Though my opinion of the Bible has completely changed, I still think there is something to this verse:
“Above all else, guard you heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23.
Above all else? I’ve done a terrible job of guarding my heart the past couple days. But at what cost? Is it better to be alive and a slave, or dead and free?