Red Vine Spirituality

Taylor K. Arthur balances Bipolar 1 Disorder, marriage, and motherhood with a nitty-gritty faith inspiring a twisted, blissful life.

When You Hit the Same Wall All Over Again

Do you ever feel like you’re hitting the same wall again and again? That no matter how spiritual you think you’ve become, no matter how much counseling you get, you just keep making out with the pavement? Yeah. Me, too. But there’s hope. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. Hebrew 12:12-13

Ah, smack.

I’m lying there, face down, just awe-struck. Awe-struck that after all this time and all of these lessons, all of these hours upon month and years of therapy, of diet changes and med changes and well, full-on life changes, that I can still end up smack-dab on cold concrete.


And in the friends’ voices who have encouraged, I hear fatigue.

My therapist cups her face like she’s watching a slow-motion car crash, as I retell my hitting of the same wall. Again.

I sit there, and for the life of me, can’t figure out how I got from standing tall to cold concrete in such a short time.

But I do know how it happened if I want to be real. And I guess I can tell you if you want to hear.

It’s simple: life knocked me sideways, as it tends to do. Schedules get too busy, with two kids in little league, a ministry, a director-husband flying to different continents. Marriage brittles over time zones. Kids crank. Too many pressure points get pressed simultaneously. Instead of being careful and opting out, I try to put on a brave face. I try to pretend–out of silly pride and this deep need to just look normal sometimes–to people-please and avoid a fight. I try to get out of my wheelchair and run.

But every time I go for easy when I can barely stand, easy is always the hardest way. Because easy always means giving over too much, placing myself in harm’s way, just to avoid an awkward conversation or an all-out fight.

A fight I can walk away from, hang up the phone on, unfollow on Facebook. But pleasing, oh pleasing! People pleasing is always hand-to-hand combat in the end. Pleasing lands me smack-dab on the concrete.

Maybe the Wall I Keep Hitting Again and Again Is a Lesson I Need to Learn Again and Again

Since getting back up off the concrete this last humiliating time, I’ve started to wonder if the concrete isn’t trying to teach me something. Maybe the cold, wet rough of this lesson is so big that it’s too much to get from one, small concrete-smack. Maybe this lesson is so important that it takes years to learn.

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately on the word calling in Scripture. In Romans 11:29, the NRSV reads for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

Funny. Every time I slam hard against the sidewalk, I wonder if this is the time I’ve finally lost my calling. Like a Gold-medal Olympian failing a drug test, like a pageant queen whose naked pictures have finally surfaced, I wonder if the spiritual department of gifts didn’t just take my name off the wall. And that, more than any disappointment or concrete, is what I fear the most.

I can feel so far from the place I know I’m meant to live. I can see the exact place I’m supposed to stand, spotlit in the darkness, when I lift my head up off the ground. But it’s dark from here to there, dark from the mistakes I keep making. And I wonder how long I’m going to be allowed to make these mistakes before the serious consequences come. As if kissing cold hard cement isn’t a consequence.

But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. 1 Thessalonians 5:4,5

But my Father is not in the business of medal-stripping. He doesn’t delight in kicking me while I”m down. He keeps whispering,

“Get up. You are not the things that you’ve done, or the labels others put on you. You’re not the wall you keep running into. You’re not the cold concrete you’ve landed on again. You’re Mine, and if you’ll stay here in this light, instead of mucking around out there in the darkness, you can grow so strong.”

The light is where I belong; the light is who I am. It’s not about running spiritual marathons and earning heaven medals. It’s not about doing it right every time.

Instead of being afraid of hitting concrete again, I’m going to give thanks for the cold, rough smack to my spirit. Every time I hit the floor, I learn my lesson deeper: I am His, a daughter of the light, no matter what.

I’m meant for the light. So are you, friend. Growing in the light means standing in it: the place where there’s no shame, and refusing to take one foot out of it. Refusing, even if it’s not popular, and even if it costs you people. Growing in the light is the only way to ever grow into the calling we were made for. The light is the place where you feel all the pain and the journey are coming together for something bigger than you. The place where you bow low, with shoulders straight, your head tipped right up into light. That’s where we’re all supposed to live: children of the light.

So, if you don’t see me in the usual places, know where you can find me: where the light’s falling on the road, where heaven touches earth in perfect wonder, where you feel that surging deep inside when you know you’re where you’re meant to be.

Meant-to-be: spot-lit.

But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief. So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; for those who sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.
1 Thessalonians 5:4-8

Stay in the light. When you hit the concrete? Run back to the light. Either way, you and I are loved, friend. Loved.


  1. Holiday’s are places I seem to hit the same wall over and over again. I despise it! AND I know I need to do things differently and learn from it. But boy is it hard when I’m in the midst of it. I feel crazy in the middle of it all.

    I know when I feel crazy it’s a sign I need to talk with a friend or my trusted therapist. I’m doing both and have a little hope today.

    Thanks for the encouragement Taylor!

    • Laura,

      I know!!! Darn holidays!!! You are amazing. I know all too well that sometimes even though I feel like I’ve learned a lesson, I need to feel the lesson a few or a hundred more times before it becomes something I can act on. I’m becoming okay with that.

      I hope you had a wonderful holiday season anyways. I try to tell myself that Jesus comes no matter what.


  2. From the beginning of what I was reading, all I kept hearing was, it’s not your fault it’s not your fault. You have a disease. And you have years of practice in doing it “wrong,” so maybe not be so hard on yourself (get it? concrete? Hard?) Love, and prayers for you. You are so like me in so many ways. Ugh. But we are loved. I love you from this great gulf. It will be ok.

    • Thanks so much for such a loving reply. Yes, I got it. the concrete is hard. It’s funny how the healthier I get the more I see so many of my learned behaviors as triggers for the illness, rather than vice versa. But I am learning! love you too!!!

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