Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Room

I wrote this story a while back, and have only shared it with a few people. But this morning I read a blog on walls, and the Lord reminded me of this piece, so I felt led to share it. I pray that as you read it the Lord ministers to you, and you feel empowered by the Holy Spirit to allow Him access inside your walls - to heal you, restore you, and bring new life. I speak freedom over anyone who is still lingering captive to self-protective walls of bondage. There is a better way! God is our Protector, and He is the Master Potter who brings beauty from our brokenness. Dare to be vulnerable!


The Room
Written originally February 2010

I am standing alone in a small dark room. I stare ahead at the walls of stone, wondering how I could have possibly gotten here. I am cold and afraid. The ceiling is so short I feel almost as though I cannot stand up straight. There is something so wrong about this place, but also so familiar. Anxiety grips my heart as I examine my surroundings.

I am the only thing occupying the vast emptiness of this space. There is no heat, no light, no chair or bed on which to rest. What is this place? How did I get here? I close my eyes desperately searching for some answer to these questions. When I re-open them I can barely see the outline of a window in front of me.

I rush over to see if that glimmer of hope is just a mirage or could this be my way out of this darkness. As I pull back the heavy black curtain covering the window light breaks through and I can see outside. My heart races as I take in the images I see on the other side of this pane of glass. The sun is shining so brightly outside. How can it be so dark in here? I see friends and family, acquaintances and people I don’t know…..yet. The sky is the purest color blue and the grass is the brightest green as if a rain shower just swept through and washed away all impurities to allow the blades to glisten in the sunlight. I see daisies scattered over the ground swaying beneath the gentle weight of the breeze. I hear laughter and singing. Outside of these four walls there is peace, joy, light and love. I have to get out there!

Desperately I begin to push at the window to escape out of this prison to the promise of a new life. It won’t budge. Why won’t it move? I need to get out of here! Sweat trickles down my back as I continue, for what seems like hours, to get the window to move even an inch. Suddenly I see that which is keeping it closed. It has been nailed shut. It is impossible for me to open it with no tools to remove the nails.

Frustration and anger rise inside of me as I realize that my hope of escape has just been snatched away. With tears streaming down my face I begin to maniacally punch the glass with my fists. Maybe just maybe I can break through. Hours later with bruised and bloody hands, tear-streaked face and a helpless heart I am no further to freedom than when I started. I slide down the wall in exhaustion, sobs gripping my body uncontrollably. Why? Why is this window here if I can’t use it? To give me false hope yet again, to leave me battered and bruised after trying with all my might to get out? Why? Why? Why?

I scream at the top of my lungs! First a bloodcurdling, earsplitting cry releasing the anger and bitterness bottled up in my heart, then waning to a simple plea of, “Help me! Help me!” It is the desperate cry of a hopeless soul. Jumping up and standing at the window again, I begin to beat against it with my sore hands, calling out to those just outside for help. Why can’t they hear me? I’m right here. Look around you! Don’t you see this room? Don’t you hear me? They continue in their own little world, a world I’m supposed to be a part of, but just outside my reach.

Finally I collapse from exhaustion into a heap on the floor. My desperate attempt to free myself has been in vain. There is nothing more I can do. I am at the end of myself. I curl into the fetal position and emotionally sit in a pool of discouragement and dismay. I am undone. I have no more strength physically, I am mentally exhausted, and my emotions are raw. So I pray, “Help,” that’s all I can say, “Please help, I cannot get out of here on my own.” And I finally surrender to the sleep I so desperately need.

When I finally open my eyes again I realize that as I wrestled during the night, I have awakened in a different position than I fell asleep. Still fatigued and hopeless I wipe the sleep out of my eyes and look around again at the stony emptiness. Then I see it….. a door. Considering the torment of my failed attempt with the window, I stare at the door. Do I dare to hope for a different result?

Sitting up, I begin to take in my dreary surroundings once again. As I look closer at the stony walls realization begins to sink in. Each stone comprising the wall to my left was set in place after experiencing hurt or betrayal. Studying each stone I remember and relive every hurtful word, every criticism, and every wrong done to me and once again I feel the pain and anguish as if it just happened. Yes, I remember, that is why I built that wall.

The wall to my right is comprised of unfulfilled expectations and disappointments. In my mind’s eye I see myself carefully placing each stone in place throughout the course of my life following each occurrence that did not turn out the way I had hoped. I remember feeling more control each time I set a stone in place, convincing myself that if I didn’t expect good things I wouldn’t be disappointed when they didn’t happen and, if by chance, something good did occur I would be pleasantly surprised. Doesn’t make much sense now, but it sure worked in theory at the time.

In front of me is a wall built from every failure in my life. I recognize every wrong choice which resulted in my landing face down in a pool of shame. Oh, there’s my divorce – I used several stones to commemorate that. I see broken commitment after broken commitment, wasted time, wasted resources, repetitive sins and failed ventures. I recall looking at that wall after it was completed and thinking, “You could have been so much more.” It is a constant reminder of a past filled with failure.

I turn and look at the wall with the window. This is the worst one to face. This wall was built to protect me, and others for that matter, from the piercing wounds of love…..the wounds I received and the ones I administered. The window was placed as a small opening so that I wouldn’t be completely void of giving and receiving love. At least I knew at some point that it was vital to life, but I was only willing to allow the transfer of a small amount to be passed back and forth, and I could shut it at any time when someone got too close and I felt my heart was in danger.

I slowly pull myself off the floor and walk over to the window. Pulling back the curtain I see those from my past and present. A vise grips my heart as I see my mom. Oh how I wish I would have loved her better. If I had known I would only have her a short time I would have told her more how much I loved her, I would have held those words that cut and wounded. I would have been less selfish, more appreciative, much kinder. It wasn’t until after she died that I came to the realization that I was not good at loving others. If I couldn’t correctly love the person who cared more for me than anyone, how could I possibly have anything to offer someone else.

Studying the wall again I see every failed relationship of my life. Did I really start building this wall that long ago? Every heartbreak is documented here, each stone reminding me that there is nothing in me worth loving. I return to the window. It symbolizes the hope of possibility, but reminds me that I can only ever give a small piece of my heart. I can never give it all because the risk of pain is too great….and this draws my eyes to the nails. That rejection was almost unbearable. It confirmed everything that little voice in my head always told me. “You can never let anyone get too close.” “You’re not good enough. You’re not pretty enough. You’re not funny enough.” He rejected the whole idea of me; never even considered it…..not an option….no way….never! I recall driving the nails into that window with such force, determined that I would never open myself up to that again.

Wow, that wall is a tough one, and reminds me of how I built the ceiling. The ceiling is one solid piece set on top of the walls. It is a blanket of fear. It holds up the left wall with fear of pain and betrayal, the right with the fear of disappointment, the front wall is held in place by the fear of failure and the last, the fear of giving and receiving love.

Standing very still in the center of the room, something stirs inside my spirit. I begin to realize that these walls of self protection I have built around my heart are not serving as a barrier from those things that have hurt me, but have become a self made prison, locking me inside a room of constant torment. At that moment a small ray of light shines through an opening in the curtain covering the window, drawing my eyes again to the life outside, and my mind is filled with the word of the Lord. My Comforter begins to whisper in my spirit Jeremiah 29:11. God has plans for me, plans of good and not of evil, plans to give me a future and a hope. “Really God? Is there more for me than this?” Jeremiah 31:3 & 4 comes next, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. I will build you up again.” “Lord, you know everything in this room. You know the darkness of my heart, and you still love me? Can you build me up again?” And then He reminds me of His promises in Romans 8:38 & 39, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I look toward the door. Could it be so easy as to walk over and turn the knob to escape from this prison or is it too, forever sealed? Have I built this place so firmly that I have eliminated any chance of escape? The only way to know is to walk over and try. Do I dare to try again? Do I dare to hope again? I call out once more to the Lord, “God, I am so scared. Can I trust you? Can I trust myself? Is it really better out there?” And He answers me, “You can trust Me. I love you perfectly, and there is no fear in love because perfect love casts out all fear.”

My entire body is trembling as I slowly make my way to the door and turn the knob, equally afraid that it won’t open, and that it will. It is not locked. As I hesitantly begin to open the door, it is not as I expected. With every inch I open the door, the walls of stone begin to dissipate, and I am not escaping and forever leaving this stony room, but it is being transformed into something beautiful and free. Opening the door further and further to the people I love and will love, the chances I’ll take, the hopes I have, and the future that’s promised. I begin to allow myself to receive God’s love and His heart, and I see things differently than ever before.

Building walls of stone around my heart doesn’t protect me from hurt, or failure or disappointment. It keeps me locked in those things. Yes, there will be pain, I will make mistakes, and my heart will be hurt, but that will not keep me bound, because I know the Healer and He promises that He will cause all things to work together for my good, that He will heal my broken heart and bind up my wounds, that He will direct my steps, and that He Himself will teach me how to love the right way, the fearless way, the selfless way, and that love never fails! So I lift my hands and revel in the freedom of my transformed heart. I will allow those I know to come close enough to see the real me, flaws and all, and I’ll love them with wreckless abandon, because that is the love that has been given to me. That love is liberating, and it is not contingent on actions or response. It just IS, and it’s amazing!

I think back to the door. It was there the whole time. I know I didn’t place it there. God did. He always provides a way of escape. He is faithful and true to His word. So looking forward to a future filled with purpose, hope and love I stand on His promise from Psalm 89:34, “My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips.” And I believe……because I have opened the door to my heart and allowed myself to be fully loved.


Therra said...

"... but that will not keep me bound...", Wow Manthie! Thanks for allowing us to "see" the real vulnerable you, flaws and all who by the Grace of god, is shown the "doorway" to freedom.
Fearless! Liberated! Amazing story :) thx 4 sharing!