• Kristen Hepner

Post 1: The Box

Hello! Kristen here. It has been a very long time since I've published anything and the reason for that is the Lord has been walking with me through a tough season. Some may call it a valley; I certainly would have on many days. Others may label it a spiritual awakening, mid-life crisis, emotional breakdown, or the "un-ing" of myself. All would be true.


Most days, and I mean MOST, I am extremely grateful for all the moments of hard. On the days where I am not feeling very grateful, I try to remind myself that all of this hard work is for my own good, and for God's glory.


One of the ways that I believe the Lord would like to use this season of struggle for is me to do what I do...to write about it. As I have said before, writing for me is a kind of worship. It's one of the main ways I process, accept, and deal with all of the thoughts swirling in my brain. Over the past year, I have been writing on and off, yet not nearly enough.


Yesterday, I made a little agreement with myself to start posting once a week. These first several post will be a continuation of thoughts that build on each other. My prayer is that in some way you can relate and be encouraged.


The Box

written: August 2, 2021

It was last October, almost one year ago, that the small pebble was tossed, causing me to come crashing down. My husband and I were on our weekly date, having lunch on a rooftop café. It was a beautiful day, sunny, perfect temperature. Personally, I felt like I was rocking it. My new book was going to be released into the world in just a few weeks. I had successfully sent my oldest son off to college (which he was rocking). Homeschooling wasn’t going too bad as I was in the throws with three of my kids and starting to dabble with teaching two others. Health had become a priority of my life. Eating right, exercising, working on my own self image had entered my world and I felt good about it. My spiritual life was right on track. God felt safe, close, good, and in control. Everything, on the surface, seemed perfectly under control, just the way I like it.


When the small pebble of an unmet need was tossed my way, the violent reaction to such a small request was like watching someone get fouled in soccer. The seemingly small push was enough to jolt my entire body ten feet in the air only to begin to thrash in the air uncontrollably, limbs grabbing for anything to help soften the fall, only to be left feeling alone, confused, and hurt as I crashed into the earth with a huge thud. The impact of the crash was enough to cause dust and debris flying high and wide affecting all who were anywhere near. The shame of the drama caused by such a slight nudge settled deep into the body now laying bare and exposed on the ground; out of breath, completely disoriented, shocked and sad.


While the “reeling it back in” tactic worked on and off for months, I knew something inside had forever changed. Comments like, “I feel broken” or “I just can’t get it back together” often came out of my lips. The typical easy-go-lucky and always agreeable Kristen was no longer. I wish I could say that I was glad to see her go, but that would be a lie. I really liked her. She was easy to control, predictable, likable. While this new version of myself felt very out of control; wild; dare I say, free?


When explaining the constant tears and the lack of joy that others see in me during these days, I often tried to explain a picture of a box. Allow me to elaborate.


There was this box on the shelf. It had always been there. I knew it was there. And I knew never to open it. The contents of the box were very scary, emotional, not easy. There was nothing inside my “play it safe” personality that wanted to even consider the idea of peeking into the box. It wasn’t pretty or decorated or even grabbing for attention. It was grey and small, tucked on the shelf out of the way. Over time, this little box would try to reposition itself to the front side of the shelf; it wanted to be seen. However, deep down I knew it was much safer for the box to stay hidden. Until that one day that the earth shattered with that small pebble and that box fell. It came crashing to the ground and was a part of the debris that flew everywhere. As much as I tried to hurry around as quickly as possible to pick up the contents and put them back into that box on the shelf, I couldn’t. They were out. They were exposed. I was exposed.


It has been almost one year and I am still trying to decipher all the contents that the box contained. So far, I have identified only a few. Each “item” that I discover seems to be even bigger than the previous one. I’m so tired of cleaning up the mess that I often get frustrated that it ever happened. There are moments that I try my very hardest to stuff all the unrecognizable parts and pieces back into this tiny box which is now all broken and tattered. At this point, it would have to be Mary Poppins bag that keeps absorbing very large inanimate objects into some magical world to be able to clean up all that is going on, but I still try. And I believe that it is in the trying to stuff and shove and control that I become the most exhausted and tired. It is the manipulating and pushing that is causing my neck to remain stiff with tension, my heart to constantly strive and race, and the incessant tears to fall.


Maybe I need to grieve the breaking of the box. The box was my friend, it was safe.


Then there is another something in me. It’s almost like from the cracks of the broken box that I see a light shining through. It’s so dim to begin with, but it feels like it may be growing brighter. I am not sure that I have fully identified the source of the light. The Christian in me screams, the light is Jesus. But Jesus? Coming out of a broken box? I am just not there yet. Deep down something tells me that the light is me. And because I know Jesus, it is Jesus in me. That is a nice thought that I will sit with for today. The broken box is me. The contents in me are my truth. Some make sense and some don’t. Some are easy to identify, and others are really confusing. Some can be touched by others, and there are some that only I can see. One at a time, I will continue to pick them up. One by one, I will find these broken pieces, dust them off, identify them, and let the Light shine on them.


One thing I am beginning to understand is that some of the pieces are really ugly. They are jagged and make no sense. I pray that one day I will see beauty in the broken. Today, in this moment I have hope that I will.


Hope. Seems so fleeting. Something that my heart needs and yearns for. Something that is so comforting when it is there and so elusive when it is not. I grab and reach and beg for my heart to believe…to know…that I do have hope. Everlasting hope. How has the enemy stolen that from me? How have I let my heart and mind ever entertain the idea of hopeLESSness?


Ahhh…there it is; the shame. The shame that keeps tripping me up and knocking me back down into the debris of the mess, causing the dirt and grime to resettle back over me, entering my lungs and causing me to suffocate.


There have been moments of me standing, wiping off the dust, and taking a deep breath of hope. There have been victories in this season of war. Call it what you like, but I know it is a war. It’s a war in my mind. It’s a war for my joy, my love, my peace, and all the other fruits that come from walking with Jesus. It’s a war for my life. Today, I want to fight. That is my work. Today, my job is to be fully present where I am. To stand up and dust myself off. To stop looking for the random pieces of debris and to just let the box lay there all broken. I can begin to see the box as becoming part of the debris, no longer holding it’s shape, no longer available to shove and stuff and quiet all of the emotions that seem inconvenient or unlovable. I still have not identified all of the contents, but I do know that the box is officially out of commission and no longer of any use. Maybe that is why the Lord allowed the explosion. He needed to break the box.


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