Vulnerable Hearts

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Last week Dave Frey from Sidewalk Prophets was in studio with us talking about his new single “Keep Making Me” and the story behind the song. He quoted C.S. Lewis “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. To love is to be vulnerable.” Those words stayed with me for days.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of guarding our hearts, of keeping them locked up and secreted away. But love can’t grow there. I remember sitting in the studio listening to Dave and asking God to make me vulnerable, to make me willing to be vulnerable so that I would be capable of giving and receiving love. Just a few short days later I got the opportunity to put in practice C.S. Lewis’ words. I was at lunch with a group of ladies that I meet with on a fairly regular basis. They are my safe group, girls I trust with my heart, girls that don’t sit around and talk about surface things, but are willing to dive into the deep places of the heart with you. Our conversations are those without filters, and I love them for that.

It had been a rough week for me, and I sat quietly during lunch, listening to the other ladies share about the exciting things God was doing in each of their lives and their ministries. They talked about big dreams they have for the future and how God is opening doors for those dreams to become reality. I felt like I didn’t have any exciting news to add to the conversation because my heart was hurting and I was afraid if I opened my mouth what would spill out would take the conversation from a direction of excitement and rejoicing to one of tears and concern.

I had all but decided to just put on a smile and keep my mouth shut when I was reminded of C.S. Lewis’ words “to love is to be vulnerable”. I knew if I didn’t say anything I’d be passing up a gift. A gift from the hand of God, who had placed in my life three women who knew me and loved me, women who wouldn’t judge me or tell my secrets, but would simply listen and encourage and pray. To have friends who love without trampling your heart is a gift, to not be vulnerable with those friends is to snub your nose at that gift.

I finally got up the courage to speak and the minute I opened my mouth the tears fell from my eyes as fast as the words fell from my lips. None of my friends were mad at me for changing the direction of the conversation, none of them were upset that I was having a bad week and needed to process. I was hugged and loved and prayed for. That day I received healing and strength to carry on because I risked being vulnerable.

The truth is… vulnerability scares me. It didn’t used to, but being vulnerable has taught me when you give someone access to your heart odds are pretty good that they will break it; at least that’s how my history has gone. And after one too many times of experiencing a broken heart it’s all too easy to lock your heart up and throw away the key. But I’m realizing that there’s something more dangerous than a broken heart… a heart that’s unbreakable. A heart that’s hard and cold and closed off. A heart that’s afraid of love is a lot more damaged than a heart that is hurt by love.

We have to be willing to risk. Part of our healing, part of our finding wholeness on the other side of brokenness is taking a chance to risk again. We have to learn how to let go of the pain that love has brought us so that we can receive the love that God has for us. So how do we do that?

This week I was watching one of my favorite shows, Call the Midwife (it is serious British drama, and I love it!) when these words grabbed my heart:

“Next time there’s a storm leave open both doors. Don’t let your misfortunes find a home.

History needn’t be a trap, we can escape its web and shake off its weight of pain.

We can change our minds and open up our hearts.

We can let forgiveness speak and allow it to be heard, let friendship flourish,

and let love in so it might feed and sustain us all our days.”

 

There it is… the secret! Don’t let your misfortunes find a home. Don’t let the pain of the past take up residency and live in your heart. Let it pass through. Open the back door and let it free. Don’t hold the hurt hostage. Because if we do we don’t leave room for forgiveness and friendship and love to enter in and find a home.

The sad truth is, not everyone can be trusted with your heart, and not everyone should be given full access to your heart. God gives us wisdom and discernment for that reason. But He also places us in good community and surrounds us with brothers and sisters in Christ who want to love us and be the hands and feet of Christ extended to us. To reject them because of the hurt inflicted on us by someone else is to reject God’s healing for us.

We need to ask God to give us eyes to see the people He’s placed in our lives that are safe, and when He shows us who they are we need to ask Him for the guts to open our mouths and speak the vulnerable words, to uncover the hiddenness of our heart, to reveal the hurting places.  To let love in so it might feed us and sustain us all our days.

With love~

Keri

Image by Chelsea Rustad, used with permission.

You’re not alone

“Pray for each other” James 5:16

I had planned to post a short devotion earlier today but never got around to it. I had several thoughts running around in my head about a particular passage I’ve been studying and wanted to dive deeper into. But when it came time to sit at the computer no words came.

Now, here I sit hours past my bedtime with a heavy heart. Tonight was hard. Some days just seem to weigh more than others and today was one of them. It seems like everyone I came in contact with was carrying a load too heavy. A friend who’s aging father lives far away and she feels torn between parenting her child and parenting her parent. A child caught in the limbo of the system who just needs a family to love him. A strong, godly man who’s heart is losing strength. A dear friend who will go home to an empty house tonight and lay awake wondering what tomorrow holds. Days like this I can’t help but think the enemy of our souls is working overtime.

I also can’t help but think of all the times in my life when I was the one carrying the too big, too heavy weight. Of the sleepless nights I faced wondering if I would survive. Wondering if I really was as alone as I felt. And always in His mercy He would send a whispered reminder “you’re not alone!”

We aren’t meant to walk through life alone. It took me a long time to learn that lesson. To learn that I don’t have to be strong and do it all by myself. God placed us in the body of Christ so that we could carry one another’s burdens. Even if only through prayer.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:2

Maybe tonight you feel alone and heavy burdened. Maybe you’re up late checking Facebook because you know the silence of your pillow will be too much for your overwhelmed heart to bear. Maybe you’re wondering if you’ll make it through this thing.

You will!!!

You are not alone. And you don’t have to carry this alone. This night won’t last forever.

Life isn’t always fair but God is always faithful. He loves you and He is holding you.

I am praying for you tonight!

Love~
Keri

Confession

“I need to tell you something”

Words I’ve heard a thousand times.

Confession.

Is there anything scarier than confessing? Yet something inside us compels the lips to give voice to the heart’s secrets. There is a deep knowing that all that hides in darkness must be brought to the light.

It takes different forms, confession. In my many years of youth ministry the conversation usually begins with a teenager telling me that what they are about to disclose will shock me. Sadly, after more than 15 years of youth ministry not much shocks me anymore. Still often times their confession is stated brashly, with as much shock value as they can throw in. A false bravado to hide the terror in their hearts.

Other times with those of us older, wiser, more seasoned, the words come in stops and starts. Between long pauses and silent tears. Eyes downcast, hands wrung we whisper out the admission of our guilt.

Earlier today I read a profound question posed in another blog that keeps rolling around in my mind. The question:

Do you want relief? Or do you want to be healed?

Most of the time I think we want relief. We want the pain to cease. The guilt to go away. The fighting to stop. The bills to quit arriving in the mail. The memories to quit haunting us. We just want relief.

Healing on the other hand seems too difficult. It involves pain and pressing through. It requires us to sacrifice and seek. It demands confession and surrender.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other

so that you may be healed. James 5:16

 

I’m not quite sure why God ties our healing to confession, but He does. I think when we confess what was hidden in darkness it loses its power over us.

Knowing that doesn’t make confession any easier. I distinctly remember sitting in Jennifer’s car late one night after a women’s ministry meeting as I whispered secret struggles to her. My heart pounded in my chest as I wondered if this new friend would offer condemnation or grace. Thankfully she not only extended grace and love to me, she went one step further. She offered confessions of her own. “Confess your sins to each other”. That night Jennifer didn’t leave me to drown in a sea of guilt. She offered me a life preserver, her own sin. Her own failures.

There in that raging sea confession became a lifeline that started these two broken girls on their journey to healing. No longer alone in our struggle we found a life raft, climbed in, and starting paddling for shore.

Girls, this journey is hard. Sin and temptation sit around every corner ready to pounce on us. None of us live outside of the grasp of temptation. God’s word tells us that ALL have sinned. Why then are we so fearful to give voice to the sin in our hearts?

We so desperately need each other. To confess to. To encourage each other. To give us a swift kick in the pants when we need it. This thing was never meant to be lived alone!!!

Do you want relief? Or to you want to be healed?

Because healing will require confession.

It’s scary stuff. But so worth it.

 

Praying that God will surround you with safe people who will jump in your lifeboat and help you paddle through your storm!

Love you~

Keri