For almost as long as I can remember I have thought of myself as tough. When I was a child I had a few experiences of bullying, but I silently refused to allow them to make me feel badly about myself. When I made a bad decision as a young adult, I stiffened my spine, and did what I felt needed to be done to rectify the situation. When I learned that blindness was only the tip of the iceberg for my first born, I got down on my knees and taught him how to crawl, how to walk, how to sign. When my first husband left me with a three month old baby and a two year old with special needs, I pulled myself together, went back to school and did what needed to be done.
It really not my intention to give you a litany of all the struggles I’ve faced because, quite frankly, we’ve all had struggles. The point I want to make here is that while there have been many challenges throughout my life, and even through I might have cried, and cried hard…at some point I picked myself up, took a deep breath and got on with taking care of things. I’ve become the person people turn to when things fall apart, because I’m strong. So what happened?
I’ve said before that God is always for us and is always working for our good. But it has seemed, since my accident, that I can’t stop crying. I try to sing along to a song on the radio and my throat closes up. I read a verse and the same thing happens to me. I’ve started feeling as if God is scouring my heart…leaving me raw, exposed, vulnerable. I can feel myself recoil at the very thought.
Somewhere in my early memories I remember being a child that cried easily. I feel like I remember being someone who felt big emotions. Maybe that’s just common in children. I do know that over the years I have built many, many layers around my heart to protect it. It’s part of our nature to want to protect ourselves…especially those parts of us that are most vulnerable, like our hearts.
On May 6th I fell off my horse. I broke my collarbone, my thumb and did some pretty major damage to the ligaments and tendons around my right hip. Those were all injuries I could feel. They were injuries I knew about even as I was lying there trying to catch my breath. But what I didn’t know was that falling off my horse that day would also put a huge crack in the wall I had built around my heart. A wall that didn’t just protect me by keeping me safe inside…it was a wall that also kept things out.
I was in the car last week listening to my favorite radio station (Klove) when either Natalie Grant or Charlotte Gambill came on and she quoted Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Now you might be thinking “EXACTLY! THAT’S WHAT I’VE BEEN DOING!” But that really isn’t what I was doing. I was building a wall around my heart to protect my feelings. To protect my “wellspring”. But God didn’t give us feelings and emotions to protect, he gave them to us to share them with those around us. A wellspring is defined as an original and bountiful source of something. So then you have to ask yourself, I have to ask myself…what do we want our hearts, our wellsprings to be a bountiful source of?
I remember a moment the year I met Dave. Both of my grandmothers had passed away within months of each other. I sat on the bottom stair in my house, overwhelmed with such a profound feeling of heartbreak and loss, sobbing as if my heart was breaking, because it was. But it was at that very moment that I realized that it was only because of the profound love I had for those two incredible women that I was able to actually experience that sense of loss. That was the moment I knew that I was going to put myself back out there, that I was going to take a chance and open myself up to loving again. I knew that if I loved openly, and honestly, then any failure was not mine to own, maybe it just wasn’t mean to be. Not two months later I met the love of my life, David.
It’s only when we let our walls down that great things can happen for us, only when we open ourselves to risk and hurt that we can really find something special. I didn’t know I had put such a big wall around my heart, but God did and he knew that it was going to take something big to break through it.
So here I sit, and I’m not going to lie, I feel scared, feeling those emotions always there, not tucked down into a nice neat little package, or behind a wall, where I can control them. But I trust God’s plan and I believe with all of my heart the words of Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.”
God broke down the walls around my heart for a reason…I trust that in time he’ll show me why. But even if he doesn’t, that’s okay, I’m still discovering all the blessings he’s hidden in my fall.