“Till this moment I never knew myself.” – Jane Austen

I was sitting with my back to the dishwasher in a jagged sea of blue porcelain shards, staring at a gash in door frame. Until that moment, I never knew myself.

I’d been married four months, and my life had been caving in around me. We weren’t prepared for the uncommonly heavy problems that emerged in our newlywed life. Were they uncommon? Probably less so than my martyr-bound self was willing to admit. I took solace in my victimhood in those days, or tried to anyway. I wrapped myself in a thick robe of dramatic isolation the same way I imagined a tragic Shakespearean heroine might do. I was a victim of cold, hard circumstances beyond my control, but mostly I was a victim of my own self-deception.

Before I got married, I thought I could handle any trial on my own merits. I thought I knew what forgiveness meant. And grit. And hard work. I thought I’d earned every good thing that came to me. Before I got married, I thought I knew pain. And loss. And desperation. And the limits of my capacity for cruelty. I thought I could never say hateful things to someone I loved, or consider suicide, or throw blue porcelain vases at door frames, trying to release the unrelenting beating of anger in my chest.
But I could do those things. I’d done those things. And the reality of who I was hit me with the shocking cold of the linoleum kitchen floor—I was human.
We learn about ourselves through lots of things—education, travel, service, art—but never more than in our moments of weakness, especially moments of great weakness, moments that frighten us because of the seemingly endless immensity of our weakness. That’s when we learn that we’re better than no one, that we’re inherently vulnerable, and that just like everyone else, we need God to overcome.