Fragile Hearts

I was speaking with a friend today when I felt like I could see her heart in the same glass dome as the enchanted rose in the classic fairytale.

The dome, the fragile glass dome, was the only thing that protected the rose.

Is that how fragile our hearts are?

As I pictured her fragile heart in that glass dome, I saw something else. Gentle hands picked up the glass dome, pulled out her heart, and held it close. Her heart became part of the hands that held it.

As I spoke to my friend, I realized that we treat our hearts like they are replaceable. We offer them up to people as if they can withstand the elements that we expose them to. We allow people to use them up and toss them out as if they can grow again, just like an octopus whose arms can regenerate.

Our hearts cannot regenerate.

Sometimes the emotional pain is too much to bare.

Those gentle hands do not want us to allow others to use us up and toss us out.

Those gentle hands want our hearts to remain in them where they are protected from the elements.

Dusty

She was exhausted as she sat with her back against the wall and head in her hands. She looked over at the shield in the corner and wondered where it came from. It was covered in cobwebs. Unable to stand up, she crawled over to it and wiped the layers of dust off.

As the dust fell, she started to wake up.

She gained strength. Enough strength to stand. She stood up for the first time in months, lifted the shield up and slowly walked toward the door.

With each step forward, her eyes saw a light that grew brighter.

The darkness that tried to strangle her was disappearing as the shield moved into it.

The arrows that previously stabbed her in the heart were now hitting the shield.

She was protected.

The light remained ahead of her, illuminating her path. She tested it a few times by tiptoeing off of the path… it grew dim each time, so she jumped back on with both feet.

When the shield grew heavy, she set it down. The arrows pierced her heart again.

How can I carry this? It is too heavy!

“Rely on Me,” she heard whispered to her soul.

Picking the shield back up, it wasn’t heavy at all. It felt like someone else was carrying it for her.

The path grew more narrow, but remained illuminated.

The arrows never ceased to strike the shield.

Who are you? (part 2)

I remembered another name: Daughter.

I sit behind families every week and I watch the way they interact. For some reason, I’m always drawn to the way the fathers adore their daughters.

One week I watched a mom walk in with her three girls who surprised their dad. Their game was cancelled, so they wanted to be with their dad. Their hugs tugged at my heart as their excitement to see each other poured out all over the place.

Last week I saw a little girl, about two years old, just cuddle her daddy in the most beautiful way. Her adorable, sweet little head fit perfectly on his shoulder and her precious face rested against his neck. She was completely at peace.

This week I watched a few fathers smile at their daughters in a way that spoke volumes of affirmation to them. Their father’s affirmation will carry them. They won’t look for it in all of the wrong places that the world offers.

This week we sang a song called, “Who You Say I Am.” I’ve mentioned this song before in my blog post titled “Redemption.”

Some of the lyrics state, “I am chosen, not forsaken… He has ransomed me… There’s a place for me (in heaven)… He is for me, not against me… I am a child of God… I am free.”

When I first heard the song I realized how amazing it is to be called all of those things.

Another name that was not in the song, another identity I have been called is “Daughter.”

This might seem like common sense to some of my readers. I will spare you the details of why that name means so much to me. Knowing I am called “Daughter” by God is powerful. Knowing that despite my sin, my mistakes, my judgements, my harsh words, and my wrong attitudes, that I am still called “Daughter,” is grace, mercy, and LOVE.

The same love I see week after week displayed between the fathers and daughters I sit behind is the same love I feel DAILY.

So, to answer the question “Who Am I?” that I asked in the title of of this blog…

I am HIS.

I am a DAUGHTER of THE MOST LOVING FATHER!

My first podcast interview!

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Who am I?

I struggled with this question for most of my forty-five years here on earth. I was lost.

I knew I was a daughter, a sister, a wife for about ten years, and a mother for the past twenty years. Beyond those identities, I was confused.

The question was first asked to me when I was at church a few years ago. I felt like I was taking a very important test that I should have studied for. I couldn’t come up with the answer, so I dug deep.

And then, I hit a brick wall.

Out of frustration, I threw my hands up and asked God. I had to listen for a long time. I asked again, and then listened even more intently.

Finally, I heard God whisper this word to me: “healer.”

The answer was clear, but I was still confused. How could I be a healer? Wasn’t that something only God could do?

I read this in the Bible: “Jesus gave His twelve disciples authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness” (Matthew 10:1), and this, “Freely you received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8).

Even though I wasn’t sure what this identity looked like on me, I decided to wear it anyway. I asked God to show me how to wear it, and I promised to do what He asked of me.

Shortly after that, I started writing this blog about my healing journey and the obstacles that I was able to overcome as God healed me.

Watching the movie, “Overcomer,” with my daughter this past week was another confirmation of this identity.

The main character was writing down all of her identities from Ephesians 1:6-8:

Loved

Redeemed

Forgiven

Rich in His grace

Wise

Insightful

Known

Made on purpose, for a unique purpose

Powerful

Adopted and chosen by God

Sealed

As she wrote each one I realized that God felt that way about me too, and that is why He sent Jesus to die for me. I felt a fresh tear on my cheek with every promise.

The one that speaks the loudest to me right now as I am working on my Masters Degree in School Counseling is “made on purpose for a unique purpose.”

Our fingerprints are as unique as a zebra’s stripes.

My path was paved for me alone.

My purpose cannot be fulfilled by anyone else. Neither can yours!

So, to answer the question in the title of this blog, “Who am I?”

I am His.

I know my purpose.

I hope, and pray, that you know yours too.

Trust

I went for a bike ride tonight. As I took my hands off of the handlebars to coast down hills, I realized something about trust. I had to trust myself and my ability to balance the bike as it zoomed past nature. I had to trust that there were no bumps, rocks, or twigs that would cause me to fly off of my bike and into nature. I had to trust the bike tires to work correctly even though I have had to repair them recently (twice!) when the spokes broke while I was riding!

I closed my eyes, my hands still off of the handle bars, and my arms stretched out like wings. I always feel so free when I do that! I usually don’t close my eyes, but in this moment I was taking part in a lesson about trust. I had to put it to the test.

This lesson took my mind back to several moments in my childhood when I learned that people were not safe. I learned that trust was not something that comes naturally for me. I learned that I put people through several tests before I truly trust them. Most people, my mind has decided, are not trustworthy.

This is not healthy.

I need to trust that I am protected. Even as I write it, it feels impossible. I am so used to putting people to the “test” before I trust them. How do I just let go and trust that the path I am on is exactly where I am supposed to be? And that where it leads is exactly where it is supposed to go?

I let go of the handlebars and trusted my balance, my bike, and the path I was on…

Are the handlebars symbolic of the things I think I can control? Is my balance really MY balance, or is someone holding me up and protecting me? Maybe the path is THE path and I just need to trust that I am on it, with a unique purpose? I need to accept that there will be bumps, rocks, and twigs on the path, and I have to realize that I can just get back up if I fall, even if I fly off the bike into nature!

I still couldn’t get a few images out of my head as I struggled with this idea of trust. I will share a few, not for pity but just to be real, honest, and to illustrate progress.

The first one I am surprised I remember because I was so young.

In the morning, I tiptoe into the kitchen.  Mom is drinking coffee and reading magazines.  She is pretending to be ok again.  She offers me a smile that she wants so badly to be genuine, and I accept.   Her face tells me that we have to be careful, so I don’t climb into her lap.  We just sit, sharing smiles when we can, for as long as we can, until he wakes up. 

My sister wakes up and joins our silent smile party.  Our table of silence is loud enough to shatter the windows.  Fear sits in the middle of the table as our centerpiece.  Ugly fear.

My sister and I sit, trembling inside, waiting for someone to speak.  We want to go play but we know the risk mom is in if we leave the kitchen.  So, we just wait.  He makes his eggs, drinks his coffee, smiles at the centerpiece as if it is his best friend, and then leaves.  He’s outside in the backyard, looking proud.  

We all release the breath we’ve held since he entered the kitchen.  We smile at each other again.  Our smiles were so full back then.  Like the best hugs that we were too afraid to give.  My sister and I even giggle.

We escaped that day, for a few hours, but we had to go back.  Back to the fear that sat in every room, laughing.

We had to breathe it all in, every day, until she finally had enough courage to leave.

The next image is of my sister and I, just a little bit older than we were in the image above. We were freezing cold in the middle of the night, in the back of a Trans Am in a dark parking lot. We were cold for a while. We couldn’t “go to sleep” as we were told when they went into the bar. We held hands and shared sadness as it rolled down our cheeks.

The next images occurred over a lifetime of hurts that stemmed from my inability to trust and my misunderstanding of love. I won’t share them here. The progress has been monumental, and I owe it all to God.

So my bike ride tonight reminded me why I have trust issues. As the images came in, I asked God to help me let them go. I don’t want them to haunt me or hinder me anymore. I want to trust that I am protected, and I want to trust that I have a unique purpose.

I realize that it is a process.

I do see the progress.

I have decided that I will trust God just as much as I trust my balance. I will trust God as much as I trust myself when I am on my bike with my eyes closed and my hands off the handlebars. I will trust God with my arms stretched out wide like wings.

A misunderstanding

I know a girl who grew up receiving love when she met the demands of her parents.

The love she desired had no strings attached.

After a while, she thought that love was only given upon receipt of what was demanded from her.

So she gave.

Her actions were driven by a need to be loved.

That “love” once received, still left her feeling empty.

The emptiness consumed her.

Eventually, she was numb and emotionless as she allowed that “love” to wreck her.

She looked at her body and found it covered in scars. Her clothes, covered in stains.

The love she desired had no strings attached.

When she met someone who didn’t want anything from her in return for love, she was confused.

He asked for her heart, scarred, torn, and stained.

She gave.

He took her hand and walked with her, never asking for anything in return.

He continued to love her and give to her until the scars healed and the stains were gone.

He never let go of her hand as they walked.

She understood.

Emotional Pain

Many of you know that I’m working on getting my Masters Degree in School Counseling. A few weeks ago I learned about suicide assessments in class. Something my professor said struck me hard: “it’s usually not the circumstances that cause someone to end their life… it’s the emotional pain they can’t bare.”

In that moment, I saw their pain.

It was heavy and suffocating.

It terrorized and paralyzed them.

Some of my own pain flooded back in from the place I left it when my healing took place. I felt it again, for them. The world was spinning out of control as I laid on that bathroom floor and cried out for help.

I was able to put the pain back where it belongs so it could no longer drown my mind.

I hope that I can help them work through the pain when those doors are opened to me.

I hope I can share what God has done for me, even though I won’t be able to give direct credit to Him. I hope they’ll realize who healed me when I tell them I didn’t go through the process alone.

My eyes have been opened wider to the current mental state that our youth are in. It’s scary, yet I’m eager to be their voice.

I’m eager to help them find their unique purpose here.

I can see the stones they’ll walk on as they move toward their calling.

We never have to work through our pain alone.

I’m thankful that I know what I’ve been called to do.

I’m even thankful for the pain I’ve gone through that has allowed me to see theirs.

Emotional pain isn’t beyond healing.

Nothing is too much to bare when you walk with the One who lovingly takes it all from you.

Bound

As I was speaking with a friend of mine recently, I saw her son’s heart in chains.

His heart is choking.

Unknowingly, he is choosing each link on the chain. He’s choosing to be bound.

The chains that are wrapped around his heart have blinded him from who he was created to be.

One link became two. Two links multiplied. Each link gained strength from their connection.

Everyone who knows him sees the chains.

He refuses to stop. They’ve become his comfort.

He lashes out. He says hateful things. He has hurt his family.

His heart is choking.

Yet, there IS hope.

There is One who can gently, carefully, lovingly cut each link.

There is One who is stronger than the thickest chain.

The same One who gives this mom the love that her son needs even when he’s blind.

She will love him no matter what he does or says to her. Because he’s her son. A mother’s love is capable of loving past the hurt.

There IS hope.

Gently

Carefully

Lovingly

He is setting this son free.

Capturing a MOMENT

Their dad was making a stand today, one that could change their lives forever.

He promised to trust God with his life, to be a good role model to his two children, and to lead his family.  He promised to be faithful.

As he walked back to his seat I watched his children, arms out, eagerly and impatiently waiting to hug their dad.

It was one of those moments I will never forget.

They were so proud of their dad standing up there, all choked up, telling everyone that God is number one in his life.

As soon as he sat down between them, they wrapped their little arms around him in one of the sweetest sandwich hugs I’ve ever been honored to watch.  They held on and then they buried their heads into each of his shoulders.

His children are young, but their actions are proof that knew what their dad was promising.  I know that they have seen him live it out daily.  Not perfectly, since none of us can, but with focus, and re-focus after each failed attempt.

I don’t know if they could see God helping their dad back up each time, but in that MOMENT, I could.

As bold as it is to say, I think God eagerly and patiently waits for all of us to return so He can hug us the same way.

The stand that this dad made today, to God, his wife, his children, and his family was loud.

It took courage.

It was beautiful.

It was a MOMENT I will never forget.