I am excellent at building walls. Most people would be surprised to know this since I am such an emotionally open person. But the thing is I am good at letting people only see what I want them to see, to let them in on bits and pieces of my hurt or joy. Maybe I am scared that if I let too many people see or let anyone too close the fragile bits of my heart will get crushed. In the past few months I have been awakened to the realization of how emotionally guarded I have been, particularly in the last year.
You see, I began building these incredibly impressive walls years ago. It was easier to guard my heart and claim that I was using it. It was easier, or so it seemed, to live behind these walls and have my heart safely guarded in a tower like Repunzel’s. And then they suddenly came down. It really didn’t take much. All it took was one person to really touch my heart, to reach past those walls that I thought were indestructible, and make me realize that my heart had not been functioning properly. To remind me that a heart, especially mine, does not function properly behind a wall. After years of living behind those walls I felt what I had only felt in small bursts, I felt my heart beat and truly come alive. With my walls down I was reminded of who I was created to be, how I was created to feel and I was finally able to get closer to God. I could feel God again, I could see my hand in hers and I was able to listen to the call I knew I felt in my heart.
I know most of that was in the past tense, in some ways still feeling this freedom, but it has lessened in the past few weeks. Fear has wiggled its way into my heart and tonight as I sat down to journal I realized that I had been covering up and hiding from God. I am not 100% okay right now; I am scared of the evil and hatred that I sense in this world, I am scared of transitioning back to life in the States after being away for so long and I am scared of having my walls down. After years of being “safely” hidden away and years of being socialized to think that crying and being emotional is wrong and weak–I am scared to be vulnerable. For those who know me well, I am sure you are laughing or shocked. But that is the absolute truth. With so much hatred and evil lurking, I am scared of letting my heart do what it was created to do–to love.
I have been pondering the word love a lot recently. After having my walls knocked down, left completely bare to this beautiful thing called love, I have been thinking about it in relationship to my friends, family, my God and the person who was able to get past those walls. I have read countless quotes, Bible verses, listened to numerous songs and watched loads of cheesy romance movies. I have been moved to tears and I have also cringed at the cheesiness.
I had a dear friend tell me the other day, “love is not a feeling it is an action.” I love that (pun not intended). Feelings are not always reliable, are often fleeting, and in my case they are not always rational. But we can choose to act, we can choose to love someone, and we choose to let someone love us. We are there for friends when they need to cry, we sit for hours talking and laughing via Skype because we are unable to be near one another, it is sharing something so important that it cannot wait another month till you return home, it is being there when someone really needs you, it is letting someone know you are there no matter what–no matter how messy life is. Love comes in many different forms, but it is always an action.
Recently, I have been thinking big picture, about how the world needs a lot of love. The only being that is capable of loving everyone unconditionally is God. I was reminded the other day, via one of those special FaceTime conversations, that it starts with the individuals around us. It starts by choosing to love even when it is hard and sometimes a little painful. With each person you truly let into your heart, a little more love is added into this dark hate filled world. Love is choosing to stay and not run–because easier is not always better. If we are lucky enough to get to love someone and have them love us, then we should embrace it not run from it. I think I built those walls and began holding people at an arm’s length because I was so scared of the inevitable hurt that would occur, because at some point we will hurt those we love and those who love us will hurt us–intentionally or not (we are still broken humans).
After being free from my walls I have found that loving is a bit easier, when I don’t let myself get too preoccupied with overthinking and worrying, but instead simply let myself be. I just remember my friend telling me, “you don’t think about receiving a hug–you just receive it.” Maybe that is exactly what I need to do with love, not think about it, just receive and give it.
On days that my thoughts run away from me, I will try and remember what 1 John 4:18 says about love:
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.”
There is no fear in love, perfect love casts out fear. What beautiful thoughts, and yes, my dear friends I have experienced this and it is the most incredible feeling in the world. So in the coming weeks as I prepare my heart, mind, body and soul to suddenly come close again to some of those that I love and to leave others that I love I will remember that: “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-7). I will count my blessings for the love that has come to me, the love that I was able to give away and even for the love that has been lost. We have a choice: to love or to not–always choose to love.
If you make the choice to love or to receive love, it adds a little more light to a very dark and cold world aching for warmth.
Peace, Joy, Blessings and SO MUCH LOVE,