“And honestly, the loneliness of self-protecting barriers can feel like it will kill you–and the heart-breaking risk of intimacy and vulnerability can feel like it will kill you too.” Ann Voskamp from The Broken Way (2016)
“I wouldn’t even know,” he says, his eyes becoming half moons with his warm grin. “Truly. You’re all heart girl but I wouldn’t know how you feel.”
I pierce my lips, furrow my brow, wondering, his eyes now wide open with chestnut eyebrows lifted. He shifts in his cafe chair, waiting.
“Really?” I finally let out, let my breath release.
“Girl, just tell him. What do you have to loose?”
“What?!” I suck in air, hold it, a faint smell of vanilla and chocolate from our hot drinks dusting my senses. I let it out. “I can’t do that!”
“What’s the worst thing that could happen?”
“Well,” I start, my hands twisting my winter scarf on my lap, “it could mess up the friendship we already have.” I bite my lower lip, my eyes darting to the right and then back again, at my companion whose bronze eyes are once again partly disappeared in half moons.
He shakes his head slightly from side to side, then stills my busy hands with his. “Maybe but maybe not,” he says. “No matter the outcome, you’re still you–beautiful, fun you but more open and vulnerable to allow someone to know how you feel. You’ll take a chance, let down the self-protection walls you’ve been creating. And no matter what happens, at least the walls are coming down and I promise you, it won’t kill you!”
I grin at his last words, and lean in for the hug I know that he always has had for me, especially during a time of breaking. This time though, instead of my breaking being a sudden crushing of the unexpected, I want my breaking to be intentional. To be an intention to unwind all the tapes I have used to bind and to shackle. The tapes labeled control, busyness, escapism, were meant to heal and protect me but, ironically, led to a heart weakened to love, instead of strengthened.
I think of Jesus’ birth, of where they laid him on that Holy night, not the inn or guest room, stone covered with a whitewashed sort of stucco, the typical home of the poor in that day. Scripture tells us he was laid in a manger (known as a stall or crib for feeding cattle in those ancient times). His life began in vulnerable conditions, and continued, and ended in heartbreak. But yet, He was and is the hope of the world.
Luke 2:7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Matthew 27:46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
How do we fully live out this living hope of Jesus who was born, lived, died for me, for you, for us without an open heart, unbounded and vulnerable?
I know it is not through walls of self-protection….
My arms release my friend from our hug, a hug that I hold into for many seconds beyond my comfort. “One of the best things about where we met, was meeting you,” I tell him.
And my heart, feeling so much more alive is, I am sure, as warm as his cheeks swept up in a crimson blush.
One small step…
Have you ever intentionally broken open? Or are there, like me, tapes binding you now that God is bringing to your attention so you can fully be His living hope?