Death, it casts a shadow on who we are and wanted to be, but can no longer achieve. It has the final word! It oftentimes exposes everything we spent our whole lives exhaustively running from and/or covering up; similar to the strongholds of shame and guilt that hinder our lives and legacies because of the walls we construct around our tender and bleeding hearts. Is that what life is supposed to be like this side of heaven? What are we running from? Who are we running from? Why are we running in the first place? Why do we equate being vulnerable, which is quite simply being honest, open and transparent, similar to walking the plank towards our own destruction and death?
Truth be told, I can relate because I have shared in this destructive habit myself of hiding behind the shame of my own walls because I spent so many years running from the pain instead of facing it and walking through it victoriously. I understand wholeheartedly how we do not want to feel ashamed by sharing the pain or having it exposed, but unless we do, we are never going to sever the power it has over us. There will always be a distance, a wall, between us and those we love. There is no shame or embarrassment in anything we’ve conquered in life, so why give it the power to conform and control our lives any longer. It has brought on enough pain and suffering, right?
I gave humiliation and rejection all the power it needed to rob me of the peace and value that was so freely given and the beautiful years of freedom in knowing my worth and value in who God designed and says I am; a Beautiful Beloved. Chaos and self-doubt had control over me. The intoxicating insecurities and fear led me to remain in bondage to this relentless cycle of repeating the same old mistakes and decisions over and over and over again until I realized what facing, embracing and sharing while walking through our trials and tribulations offer: Connection! Deep connections! These connections that aid God in announcing the bold and courageous Beautiful Beloveds we have been the whole time! What is so bad and embarrassing about surviving the greatest storms of our lives that made us who we are today? If only I knew then what God’s Truth says in Mark 5:36, “Don’t be afraid, just believe.”
Connection offers the safety of community! Connection brings healing and support while walking through the pain. Connection offers celebration through the sharing and caring. Connection requires commitment and transparency. Connection breeds courage and confidence! Connection demands accountability through contribution and offers through safety and confidence emotional intimacy. Connection embraces risk. Connection holds the mirror of our conduct and character! Connection unveils the truly Beautiful Beloveds we have been hiding behind and tears down the walls we’ve constructed around our hearts. Connection opens us up to receive the love and blessings that God designed and created us to have this side of heaven that we all crave and need: Relationships!
I ran and hid from the cruel and debilitating pain of shame caused by a husband’s constant betrayal of infidelity and physical abuse, not to mention the compounding torture from another husband’s deceit and sexual orientation. That would devastate any girl! That pain and disappointment from the shame and guilt gave birth to isolation of deep relationships that manifested itself in not trusting anyone, but it also gave the enemy the power for the stronghold in tearing down my worth and value which gravitated unhealthy relationships and held me captive in them. This insecurity and fear in sharing my true thoughts and feelings poured over and bled onto my amazing children as well. I can now see had I been able to share my tattered and torn heart openly and honestly with others at that time and claimed God’s worth and value over my life, I would have healed a whole lot sooner, I could have blessed others with my own testimony, I could have severed this dysfunctional familial stronghold before it sprinkled even further onto my kids, and I would have allowed others access to enter into the front door to the chambers of my heart! What freedom! Every person is equipped with familial dysfunction, all lives are messy; what matters is how we deal with it! When we don’t allow others in, everyone suffers, including our own families and the body of Christ.
I took on the traits and characteristics like so many tender hearts of feeling unworthy and ashamed of believing I was deserving of real love. This influenced and effected how I perceived and received the love that God was trying to pour into me. I would subconsciously push people away that the Lord had brought into my own life because of the walls I had constructed around my heart. I now see others doing this so clearly. We do this without even realizing it.
I became emotionally absent to those around me. If you don’t know what it’s like to be loved, how can you love others the way God intended? I had no idea the strongholds that would grow leading to a life shackled and imprisoned in my own hell that I constructed around my heart. Any time anyone would remotely try to get in passed those protective barriers, the defensive mechanism of the tender heart reacted with the venom that announced loudly, “You are not welcome here and I’m running real fast.” That prohibits healthy connections when we don’t let others in as we keep others at arm’s length in order to protect our bleeding hearts.
Being Beautiful Beloveds of the Lord God Almighty, there is no shame, guilt or condemnation that has any power, weight or bearing whatsoever on being proud to be God’s chosen (Romans 8:1). What society deems as expectations of worth and value will only further aid in the devaluation of who God says we are. We all have to realize how we need each other, to quit being fearful of others and what they say and think about us. How can we get to know members of our community when we’re paralyzed in fear and hiding behind our walls? Our past failures do not reflect on us being any less beautiful or less desired or effect our value and worth whatsoever; quite the contrary, it supports and vindicates who God says we are because we are walking out our lives victoriously while pouring love out onto others. We live in a world full of darkness and evil and a society that lives and breathes for self, so we need to emerge and be capable of loving like Christ so lavishly pours out onto us.
My past may have nearly taken down this near six-foot-tall frame down to a mere couple inches, but it gave me the experience and freedom to boldly proclaim what an amazing God I serve and love; and because of His relentless pursuit and restoration through unconditional love, this strong and loved woman that I am today is because God carried me through all the ugly, along with healing the affliction done in the deep recesses of my heart that were once diseased from the effects of rejection and abandonment. That hurts! Pain really hurts! That’s why we all need the provision that only the Great Healer, the Great Physician, can perform! That pain created a Wall of Isolation that no one could enter, not even my own children, like so many other tender hearts today are living behind and under. We may think we’re loving others, but when we’re living in the neighborhoods of our own minds trying to file and shuffle the pain around so it doesn’t tear us apart, it makes us unavailable to love and be loved. That pain creates a barrier from allowing healthy relationships to emerge and grow; we’re too afraid to be ourselves, we’re too afraid others will hurt us or our children or grandchildren, and we live superficial lives that cannot form deep relationships.
That’s why we need to connect through vulnerability. Change may be as uncomfortable as trying to wear those favorite jeans with the weight gain of those extra 25 pounds; it’s restrictive, you can’t move or breathe, you can’t enjoy the blessings of the dessert that is before you because you’re so focused on the pain that that button is digging into, you know, your intestines through each breath and any expansion would cause immediate death, so you leave the banquet while running to take off those jeans and breathe, you know, that deceitful life you live! Pretty dramatic, huh? Let’s be ourselves, comfortable in our own skin, unbuttoned jeans and all, while sharing our lives and struggles with one another through honesty, openness and transparency. The benefits of being members of the H-o-t Club!
If you would like to know and understand more about the walls you’ve developed throughout your own life and would like to take the free assessment on line (which you can’t lie to, I tried ♥), an amazing past professor of mine named Ryan Rush, who is also a Baptist pastor located down in good ‘ole Texas, has designed and created an amazing website due to his own battles and struggles while offering tools and resources for understanding your walls, for breakthroughs, and how it effects our perceptions and relationships with others and God. You can visit his website at http://www.faithbreakthroughs.com. He has also authored an amazing book dedicated to tearing down walls and one I recommend highly called, “Walls, Why Everybody’s Stuck (and nobody has to be).”
We’re all in this together and I want this world to be filled with more Beautiful Beloveds who are not afraid to be themselves, who can trust because they can be trusted, and will be available to go deeper into lasting friendships and community without running and hiding and ending what could be an amazing friendship for life. We’re all in this together and if we share what works and how to get there (you can’t hide when you’re sharing your life on the internet), we will see how God designed the church to be. It takes courage and it requires vulnerability.