Breaking point – ever been there? If you have then you can agree it’s anything but pleasant. I want to share some of my experiences that have probably shaped me and saved me the most. I also want to share the spiritual side of these experiences as well.
Mother Theresa once said ‘God never gives me more than I can handle – I just wish he wouldn’t trust me so much’. This says something very profound; you see that there are two very separate points, my breaking point and God’s idea of my breaking point.
You see God knows me better than I know myself. I am virtually a stranger to myself in comparison, God knows all of my inner workings, my motivations, my desires and my weaknesses, and I know God allows us to discover these secret things. He does this sometimes by allowing us to be pushed to our breaking point and beyond.
My experiences at breaking point
When I was 16 and rebellious, I was kicked out of home by my parents and I lived with my best friend in a two bedroom flat, which soon became a party central for all our friends. The drinking, drugs and partying seemed to pick up momentum and things started to get out of control. This was the 90’s and a time when we based our lives on gangster movies, and music and gangs and violence in my neighbourhood started to evolve.
A series of events, one after the other that brought me to breaking point, started with a crime. An older man in his 30’s, one of our drug dealers took up an informal living arrangement in our flat and one night, when spirits were high but funds were low, he went and robbed the local service station armed with my baseball bat. It was all good the first time but the second time he tried he was caught and brought a police raid on our flat.
The series of fights which changed my life
I had trained in boxing for a few years and I didn’t find it hard to find trouble. Fights usually started with some staring, some threats and then the punches flew. I was usually the first to throw down.
In a matter of two days I had been in fights against four different people, all bigger and older than myself, with the last guy being a 24 year old amphetamine junkie who was speeding off his dial. This was the bad one.
By the end of it I was beaten beyond recognition – I am not exaggerating, my mum came around and didn’t recognise me – and the speed freak was in a coma in hospital. My friends had all been caught with weapons by police after they went after him and was told the details of the incident by them. He had incurred 40 something stitches and was in a coma in a serious condition.
Another close call
Then there was an attempted suicide by a close friend. That shook me up and made me feel like we were playing with fire. The breaking point was yet to come. One night we were drinking and taking drugs at a local friend’s house with the usual group. From there a friend of mine and I ended up with two older girls we were keen on in a car on the way to a party.
Over 20 years ago, that night is still vivid as anything. It had begun to rain when we drove off. We did a u turn and drove past the spot where a group of people were, where the driver was intoxicated and was showing off in front of the crowd. I looked over her shoulder to see the speedo hit 80km/hr when the rear of the car started to slide out around the corner.
In the blink of an eye a stobie pole was lit up by the car head lights and then bang, I saw my life flash before my eyes and we hit the gutter. Because of the car’s trajectory we bounced off the gutter but not into the concrete pole. We rolled over and over down the road. I was not wearing a seat belt so every time we rolled I was thrown around; I braced myself and waited to die.
Now some might think that I smoked too much weed that night but I am telling you my life did flash before me. It is the weirdest thing to ever explain. The only thing I can say is that in a split second all actions, motives and feelings were summed up and my life felt insignificant. I felt weighed and found wanting. The summary of my life felt lighter than a feather, insignificant, and utter selfish waste.
Needless to say that within a month I had found myself at church on a Sunday responding with deep tears to a call for prayer and salvation. God has been saving me ever since and saving me in ways I never thought possible.
I have had four of these incidents in my life, where I have been pushed beyond my breaking point. Each time I found God had built something profound within me. I want to share some of these insights and transformative things with you…
(to be continued)
Mark is married with 3 kids. He has been a youth worker for 10 years. He has worked in lay and paid church roles in various denominations for 15 years and is currently a member of the Adelaide Anglican Diocese. Mark has a B.A from Tabor College Adelaide.
Mark Flippance’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-flippance.html