Rock Bottom . Rebuild

Rock Bottom.jpg

Rock Bottom – rock-bot·tom \ ˈräk-ˈbä-təm \  (noun):
1. the lowest possible level
What does rock bottom look like?
For me, it was the imagine of a drug addicted, homeless gentleman who begged for a few dollars only to shoot up, smoke, or drink what should have been his meal money.  Rock bottom was the young lady who turned to prostitution for cash and sometimes even a sense of companionship.
 
What does rock bottom feel like?
I imagined it was a place of desperation, helplessness, and despair.  I couldn’t imagine that anything good could come out of that low place.
 

…then I hit rock bottom.

 
I hope that you won’t judge me for my skewed perspective of “the lowest possible level.”  Honestly, I only knew what I had been shown.  As I grew up, I was always surrounded by individuals who seemed to “have it all together,” or it least it appeared that way.  It was only when we would drive by the homeless gentleman on the street who was evidently intoxicated or the lady on the corner whose clothes where as short as they were tight that I encountered an image of rock bottom.  Then life happened, and it happened with all of it’s might.
 
Yesterday, Facebook memories, or “On This Day” as it is also called, reminded me of a few seasons where I found myself near life’s bottom.  My mother passed away January 26, 2010, and her funeral was held on January 31, 2010.  Yesterday, a status posted a few hours following her funeral showed up in my Facebook memories.  “Today was one of the hardest days of my life.”  Rock bottom.  I can vividly remember feeling so helpless as I had NO clue how I was supposed to move on in life without her.  I didn’t even know how to get through that current day without her.  In the same feed of memories, I saw a post from January 31, 2017 — one year ago.  Rock bottom.
 
Though I’ve told this story before, I’ll share a bit of it again.
 
In one of the roughest financial seasons of my life, I had to make a choice.  My streak of “robbing Peter to pay Paul” and juggling bills had come to an end…again.  I was in a situation where I was buried beneath my debt with no clue how to get, let alone keep my head above water.  Though I had a roommate, it seemed as if everything was just too high: rent, utilities, car expenses…everything, and no matter how I tried to cut, save, borrow, and rearrange, I couldn’t recuperate.  My check had been garnished for two separate debts which left me having to pick and choose which monthly bills to pay first or at all.  My driver’s license was suspended, my car insurance had lapsed, my car payment was two months behind, and we had cut off notices for the gas and electricity bills.  On top of that, both my car inspection and car registration had to be renewed, and I needed new tires.  And then we got behind on the rent.  In a desperate attempt to keep a roof over my head, I applied for loans that I knew would get denied.  I skipped out on my car payment again, I shorted God when it came to tithes and offering, and I had to start making choices: medicine, gas, or food.  I felt so low, alone, and ashamed.  Before I knew it, I was caught in the middle of a stress-induced eczema flare that left painful blisters all over my face, chest, legs, and hands coupled with excruciating itching, my hair started falling out, and my blood pressure was a stroke level almost daily.  Rock bottom.  I had been praying for God to help me save my world that was crumbling, and He gave me the instruction to let it go.  I was petrified!  At the time, I was 28 years old.  I wasn’t a 19 or 23 year old who could just run back to mommy and daddy; there was no childhood home to return to.  Let it go?  Let it crumble?  I didn’t question that God knew why He told me that, I just questioned what I was supposed to do.  So on January 31, 2017, I moved my things into a storage unit,  I filled my trunk with only necessities so I could live out of my car, and I surrendered my keys to my apartment.  I was officially homeless.  Rock bottom.
In the weeks that followed, I remember putting on depression like a heavy, winter coat.  Friendships with deep roots and strong bonds fell apart.  One that I loved deeply and trusted to be a rock for me walked out of my life, only after wreaking havoc on his way out.  And I carried such guilt for disrupting whatever normal my roommate had.  I remember staying out until almost midnight each night to avoid my reality that I’d have to lay my head on my brother’s couch.  Each day, I’d pack a bag of just the items I needed to get dressed and then leave the rest of my belongings in my car.  And when I felt really down, I’d drive to my storage unit, sit near my packed boxes, and just cry.  Rock bottom.
As time progressed, with destroyed credit, judgements, and just enough money, I began apartment hunting.  “Ms. Rouson, I’m sorry.  There’s nothing we can do.”  “I’m afraid your application was denied.”  “I wish I could do more for you.”  Rejection after rejection, and no after no…but I had no choice but to keep going.  At this point, my oldest brother and his family were preparing to move, so I moved in with my other brother.  Even in that situation, my time there was limited.  I needed an open door, but it seemed as if every door was bolted shut.  It seemed like I’d never get my opportunity to get up and try again.  Finally, I received my “yes,” and I moved into my new apartment with practically nothing… No broom, no mattress, no dishes, no furniture.  All I had was a key and space.  But I was no longer homeless.
It was during moments like this that I learned a few lessons about rock bottom.
What does rock bottom look like?
To most, my life seemed fine.  I was always dressed well, I continued to fulfill my obligations, and I kept a smile on my face.  Because I cried in secret, kept my reality quiet, and continued to be Christen, no one knew just how low I was.  I discovered that rock bottom didn’t have to be someone on the street with a sign in hand.  Rock bottom looked like me: smiling face, well dressed, gainfully employed. 
What does rock bottom feel like?
Initially, rock bottom was lonely, empty, depressing, and painful.  I hit that place still with the mindset that nothing could come from that low place, especially nothing good.  Until I had a key and empty space.  It was in that moment that I realized that rock bottom was a good place to start from scratch and rebuild the life that I wanted God wanted for me.
Where is there to go when you’re SO low?  One word: UP!!!!  Rebuild.

This is my season, and I WILL REBUILD!!!

I wrote that quote in a memo on my cell phone on October 16, 2016.  My pastor had us declare that over ourselves while preaching a sermon.  Shortly after recording it in my phone, I saved the memo to my home screen so I could see it every day.  I was declaring that I would rebuild before I even knew that I would be homeless, lose friends, or experience health challenges.  Oh, but I should have known.  In order to rebuild something, there must be demolition!  My world had to come crashing down so that I could start over and build the life that God had ordained for me.  But I, with my fearful, stubborn self, wouldn’t exchange what I had for what He wanted to give me because there were so many unknowns… “If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it.”  (Luke 17:33)  So I lost my life and everything I was comfortable with, and I began again.  Rebuild.

THE MORAL OF THE STORY

Rock bottom is a great place to start.  I don’t know if you’ve lost your job, a loved one, or a close friend.  Maybe you are heading towards divorce or just had a miscarriage.  Maybe you’re simply watching the life you dreamed of be toppled down by the life you’re stuck with.  If you find yourself at rock bottom, congratulations!  You have just been granted an opportunity to rebuild.

Don’t get me wrong, I WILL NOT sensationalize my journey over the last 365 days.  I have had insomnia and been forced to lay awake and think of my problems.  I’ve had several more episodes of stress-induced health challenges.  I had to purchase every single item that I needed to live and live without some things until I could afford it.  And, transparently speaking, I suffered suicidal depression.  It was my frantic grip to God’s hand and desperate belief that there was more to life coupled with the the daily support of my best friend, Jo’sef, that kept me alive.  (He would not let me check out of here, y’all.  I appreciate and love that boy so much.)  Each day that I lived, I realized that I survived the previous day.  That was enough to celebrate considering how badly I wanted to quit living.  Eventually, I graduated from just surviving to figuring out why, and in that I discovered my purpose.  I began to seek healing, and the desire to help others grew within my heart.  I relaunched According to Chris with one simple mission: “Sharing my story.  Changing a life.”  Through this process, God has allowed me to dream again and has given me renewed passion for some dreams that were deferred.  I’ve launched my first t-shirt as a portion of my Be A Light movement.  I am working on my first book, and I have a few other things up my sleeve.  My relationship with God has grown so much, and even the way I sing and worship has developed.  I have been rid of unhealthy friendships, relationships, and repressed memories and feelings, and I have been graced with GOD ORDAINED connections.  …all of this from rock bottom.

“What are you saying, Yolanda?”  (Hahaha! Reference to Yolanda Adams’ song “The Battle is Not Yours.”)

I’m saying that maybe, just maybe God is with you at your rock bottom, and His mighty hand is still on your life.  Maybe, just maybe He has already calculated the cost for the rebuild, and He knew it before the demolition of your life even began.  Maybe, just maybe what you had in mind for your life wasn’t the pinnacle compared to what God wanted to give you.  And maybe, just maybe, like me, you are too fearful or stubborn to give up what you have.  I needed rock bottom.  It hasn’t been easy, but it has been worth it.

It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.
Psalm 119:71 [King James Version]

I hope this helps.

-Chris

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