I’ve never really been a “people person”. In fact, whatever the opposite of that is, is what I’ve always been – until recently.
You see, my past is riddled with my failure to trust people because I always saw other people as the source of my pain and suffering. There are very few people that I have ever really trusted and even fewer that haven’t broken that trust. I had built up barriers around my heart that I was determined that no one, not even my own husband, would EVER be able to get through because I wasn’t going to risk having someone break my trust again. But in not trusting people, I was also not loving them and not letting them love me.
C.S. Lewis saying in his book Four Loves, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even 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.” This is where my heart has been for most of my life – locked away in a casket and concealed behind so many barriers that no one could ever reach it.
Or so I thought.
God sent someone into my life who would break down those barriers by showing me His love. After years of methodical and strategical planning and lying, my heart was protected, guarded, and safe; but in minutes God’s light broke into that darkness. And I was scared.
Someone once told me, “When you’re lost, you want to be comfortable.” Unless you’ve been lost, you may not understand this statement. But it is so true. Before I knew Christ, I was lost in the darkness of my own sin, but I was comfortable. I knew where the pain was and I avoided it, I knew how to get away from things that scared me, and I knew the perfect places to hide. I was lost, but it felt safe and comfortable.
God sent a strong, merciful, and loving woman into my life and somehow she was able to break through my barriers without words. My first instinct was to run. I was scared. When His light shown into my darkness, I was forced to enter into territory of my heart that had been untouched for years and I didn’t know how to deal with it. But at the point, there was no turning back.
After years of not trusting ANYONE, I trusted her. I let the barriers come down and honesty spilled out. I was faced with the truth of my past, of my life, and of my own sin. And I didn’t feel safe anymore. I felt overwhelmed, confused, broken, and out of control. And for the first time in my life, I exposed those feelings. For the first time, I let myself be transparent. I was learning that the only way the find safety amidst the confusion and brokenness was in Him and I dove in head first!
So I listened when she spoke to me and I trusted her advice; and I actually followed her advice. I confided in her and she loved me through my pain. She showed me that I could lean on Jesus and depend on God when I couldn’t find a way to do it on my own. She prayed for me and with me. She showed me love when I thought no one could love me. She showed me that it is ok to be vulnerable and it is only in being vulnerable that I could truly experience love.
And because God sent her into my life to break down my barriers, I have been able to reveal the true me to other people. I have been able to step out of my comfort zone and into the arms of my savior. I have found safety in vulnerability.
Matthew 14:28-33 – 28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Just like Peter, I have heard Him call to me, stepped out of the boat, gotten scared, started sinking, and then He reached out for me. I think that passage perfectly depicts my venture into trusting Him. I want to trust Him in everything I do. I want to depend on Him and know that He will provide for me. However, I get scared and fear keeps me from fully following His will. But even when I fail and I fall, He still leans in with a gracious hand and pulls me back up.
In trudging through the “yuck” of my past I have found freedom, joy, and peace. I have become transparent with other people. I have learned how to love others and how to let others love me. I have seen, firsthand, the work of God in my life. None of this that I have done would have been remotely possible without Him.
My point in all of this is that even though hiding in the darkness feels comfortable and safe…it’s not! I’m here to tell you, from my experience, it only results in isolation and loneliness. It took A LOT of work and it meant a lot of tears and I had to face a lot of things from my past that I had promised myself that I would never think or speak about again. But it was worth it. God has gone every step with me and it’s only because He loves me enough to carry me and guide me through that I am able to say that I know what freedom is.
So now, I’m not afraid of trusting or loving people anymore. In fact, I’m more afraid of not loving enough; of not letting the love of Christ shine through me. I am now free to be transparent with others, to remove my masks and be myself. I am free to love and to be loved.
So here’s my advice: love everyone. You may be the one person that God has sent to break down someone’s barriers, that allows them to start trusting and loving Him. Also, don’t hide in the darkness. Darkness can’t thrive in light, so bring the darkness into God’s light and the darkness will flee.