“You are one of the most beautiful people I know,” my friend tells me as he plants an affectionate kiss on my head. “In every area. Sometimes you are so beautiful I don’t know how to talk to you.”
What do I say to that?
“Thank you,” I reply. “I really appreciate that.”
But in my heart, I hurriedly move on. Deflect his compliment with a shield. Don’t let it settle to the deepest places, because somehow it can’t be true. His perception of me must be wrong.
My coworker comes up to me as I scrub dishes. “I’ve been thinking about what you said….”
My heart seizes. What did I say?
“About the fear of man…I thought I wasn’t afraid of what people think of me, but I am. I don’t want to be afraid.”
Neither do I. So why am I afraid that people will remember what I say? Why am I afraid it will effect change?
Coming into yourself is a risky journey. What do you do when someone says they could listen to you talk for five hours because you always give them something to think about?
Or when a friend tells you he has been watching your freedom and has decided to fly out of the country to find God and his heart?
When your pastor asks you to share your story with the congregation?
When your mom says she’s amazed at the words that come out of your mouth?
When your brother has been watching your life and listening to your heart so closely that he can finish your sentences?
I run away.
I cower in uncertainly while Satan assaults my strongholds with lies that I try to deflect, but they are lies of my youth and make themselves comfortable in the rooms of my heart: Don’t think too much of your beauty, or you will become prideful… She remembers your words, but what if they are misinterpreted? You’ll be responsible for the damage; better not to speak at all… You can’t save them all. He may want to go into his heart, but what about all the others?… Your Christian family will never understand the way you live. You are alone….
And the walls of my strongholds start to crumble as the enemy reinforces beliefs of so many years–beliefs that my heart is bad, that I cannot know joy, that I do not deserve love and will never be able to love others.
I’m trying to lift the stones back into place but staggering under their weight. The attack comes more swiftly.
Look at their pain. They will not receive truth.
Look at their hardness. They will not receive love.
Look at their chains. They will never be free.
Look at yourself. You are not beautiful. Try harder or you will be rejected. You won’t be able to love them. You love them too much, more than God. Your desires are bad. You will end up choosing your desires and leaving this life and hurting everyone.
The stones cave in an avalanche of pain, bondage, and warfare of everyone I love, in addition to my own.
Father, help me!
And his rescue is swifter than the attack, his wings scattering the army of demons and enfolding me in an impenetrable embrace. I’m here. He sets a stone back in place. I love your heart. He fits another stone against it. You are mine. And a third. You are new.
Then he begins to stack stones on the foundation he laid. You are beautiful. You are doing fine. Don’t stop loving them. It’s all true; this is who you are. Let it in.
This is who I am.
The words taste foreign on my tongue. I don’t think I’ve ever said them before. But they are strangely familiar to my heart–like coming home after being away so long you have almost forgotten where you live.
I guess there’s nothing left to do but open the door and welcome myself in.