“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.” – CS Lewis
Sounds like a horrible way to live, doesn’t it? Sure a heart locked up in a casket can’t be broken, but it can’t breathe either. It dies.
I love the t-shirt in the photo here. I actually own one. I first saw this shirt when I saw the Ken Davis video “Super Sheep.” at a woman’s retreat back in the 90’s. – I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. (Phil 4:13) We’re the sheep in the photo and if you notice he’s holding Christ’s hand – or Christ is holding his, either way – it’s a union. And there they go safely, fearlessly walking past the wolves and the lions of life. Wow what a visual. I have to confess I wore that shirt long before I ever believed it or even fully understood it.
I have walked through many doors with various him’s on my arm, but they were never the right one. Getting from there to here hasn’t always been easy.
My heart was wrapped rather tightly by the time I set a tentative foot into the life of churchdom back in 1993. Entombed in my career and my family it seemed to me that I was impenetrable.
The only “him” I was with, was me and my career.
I kinda thought that I liked it that way, but I didn’t really. Trusting only in yourself is a lonely existence.
My early years of church life became an archeological expedition of finding entrances, caskets, trinkets and pockets of light. The dig went slowly.
I can remember the first steps of simply coming to church and sitting in the pews, shaking violently. If my husband overslept and I had to go it alone, I was a basket case.
My husband became my him. I placed all burdens of peace, happiness, and safety on his shoulders.
As time went on, I can remember learning how to talk to people, going to bible studies, joining a committee (just one) and starting to feel peace. If I’m being honest, I trusted the building before I ever trusted the people.
And so the church became my him. (At least I was getting closer.)
There were nights when my husband and I would argue and I would put on my sneakers and run the 1 1/2 miles to our new church. The building was locked up and closed for the night, but I didn’t care. I’d just run through the parking lot, past the parsonage to the playground in the back. Breathless, I’d climb up the slide, sit in the tower and look at the church. I believed God was in that building and I felt safe. I’d stay there until the fear and loneliness subsided and peace settled in and then I’d walk home, leaving my him behind.
I hadn’t yet learned that God is present in more places than just a sanctuary, but it was a start. A beginning of airing out the dusty tombs.
Three years after we joined our church, we enrolled our children in a private Lutheran school. New challenges awaited and I was now dealing with several pastors instead of just my one. Their kids went there too. I hadn’t planned on that. It was time to learn a new level of trust.
Have I ever told you that I don’t like pastors? I liked mine, but taken as a whole, I wasn’t all that sure about the rest. This was going to prove problematic. More shaking. More fear. More dust.
I tested the waters many times by asking these men simple questions and then stepping back to see how they responded. Were they kind? Were they patient? Did they answer my question? Mostly yes. I dusted a windowsill and more light came through.
I did have some problems with a dad at the school who liked to pursue me when he saw me alone. I hate being hit on and I did not know how to handle it. I discovered that if I stuck close to the pastors, he’d leave me alone. I didn’t think about how it looked, I just wanted to be safe. And so
The pastor’s became my him. I was safe when I was with them.
I wasn’t intentionally making idols out of things or people. I can only relate it to going from water wings to the high dive in learning trust and walking with God. I’d learned about Philippians by then – I can do all things through Christ. Christ was supposed to be my him. Not me, my career, my husband, my church, or the pastors. While I knew that in my head, I didn’t know how to walk it out.
We were at a back to school pool party and I was afraid. There were dozens of people there and I knew very few of them. I was by then good at saying hello, asking a brief how are you and then bolting before I got dragged into a conversation. But this was a FOUR hour, fenced in pool party. I was trapped with a bunch of Christians and pastors. eek! I didn’t think I’d survive.
I’d prayed shortly after we got there that I didn’t know to trust him enough to find the strength to step out and be myself. Would he be there for me? What would it look like? How would I know.
Right after saying that prayer, I felt a voice deep in my heart that said “watch me.”
I looked around to see who might have said that and I spotted a couple arguing not too far from me. I wasn’t sure what the argument was about, but it looked intense. I didn’t want to stare, so I looked away.
Moments later she was gone and he was standing along the back of fence. His hands were grasping the bar at the top so tightly I could see the veins in his hands. His head was bowed. He was hurting and it showed. And he was praying.
I was confused and asked God what it was exactly he wanted me to see. Surely not this. I mean this was horrible. The next thing I know this man – the praying one – is in the kiddie pool with my kids playing and laughing and talking to us. He spent the rest of that afternoon talking to people, playing with the kids, calling swim races, going off the high dive and just having a blast with everyone.
Did his pain suddenly go away? – I later learned no. His wife had left him just a few months before. His pain was deep. But what God did do for him is lift him above it enough and strengthen him enough to make the best of the day. He prayed in the midst of pain and fear and God responded.
They walked through that day together.
When God said “watch me” — he meant watch what I can do when you let me be your him. Take my hand – I won’t let go.
Does that mean I’ll never be hurt, or have my heart-broken? Or be afraid? No. It does mean however that I have a hand to hold that will lift me above those circumstances and strengthen me as we walk through them together. I don’t have to keep my heart buried in some tomb. It is redeemable. And it’s stronger than I think.
Christ in me (and you.) – the hope of glory.
The post written by Deana O’Hara for Redemption’s Heart. All rights reserved. No goods or services were given in exchange for the videos and items discussed here.