This past year has been the most real year I have ever lived. It has been a complete mess. In the midst of that mess Jesus has been at work. He is leading me to something greater. Part of that came last night and this morning. I have the most clarity I have ever had in looking into my heart. The following is probably the most honest, raw, and real thing I have ever written. Frankly it scares the bleep out of me to share it. I really don’t want to but I know that I am on a path of becoming whole and holy. I know that sharing this openly does two things. First, it exposes this entrenched place in my heart to the light. Second, it gives me the accountability I need to continue to pursue healing. This however does not comfort me in the least. This is a very uncomfortable thing to do. I have to trust that this is the right choice to reveal it here when almost all of me wants to keep this hidden.
I have discovered a large, gaping wound deep in my heart that I have come to label rejection and neglect. It was formed many years ago in my formative years and has been enlarged over the years by various large and small events in my life. It is incredibly painful, pain that has been years in the making. I have allowed this pain to be bolstered by letting many years go by without allowing for the glorious gift of healing to enter in. So instead the pain has remained and been fortified. It is now almost a comfort to have it; it is most familiar. It has become my reality. I expect rejection and neglect. When I don’t receive it then I am confused and don’t know what to do so I work hard at producing rejection. Its message is clear: no one really likes me, I am not worthy of their affection, I am worthless and a failure at all that I do, I cannot trust any love because ultimately I am unlovable, rejection is the truth.
These messages have created in me a foundation of shame. Shame that says there is something wrong with you. You are broken and worthless. Shame that says you can’t do anything right and everyone knows it. Shame that says you are all alone. You deserve to be alone. The sad thing is that the shame now brings me comfort. It is well-known and now is like an old friend. To not have shame disrupts me and unnerves me. So shame has made a home deep in my heart.
The place, I now see with blinding clarity, is the most private place in me. No one is allowed in this space, not even Jesus. It belongs to me and is where I retreat to when I fail, when I fear rejection, when I am confused, when I am feeling alone. I call it “going internal” but really it is retreating to my “safe place” which isn’t at all safe. It is my stronghold, my fortress. You see I have built walls around this wound and foundation of shame. Those walls have been built every day of my almost 34 some years. They have been built well and are strong. I have built them high enough to feel “safe” in my stronghold. No “enemy” can enter. No one can see into this secret place. It is mine, all mine. This is my kingdom built with my hands aided by the words that have been spoken to me in hate and anger. Aided by the lies that my wound of rejection and shame have spoken to me. Shame can be a very strong foundation and so these walls are pretty unmovable.
These walls make up the other part of my kingdom which is pride. Pride is my defense. It is my security. It is my coping mechanism. I use pride as a salve for the pain of this weeping, oozing wound. I tell myself that I am ok. I am good. I tell myself that I don’t need anyone else, that I am fine on my own. In fact I prefer it. In fact, I am too good for “them” anyways. They have their own problems and I can list them. They are no better than me, in fact I think I am a little better. They have real problems, I am doing just fine, in fact I am great! This used to just occur inside my fortified walls in secret but now the fear of rejection is so strong that I send those insults and accusations towards anyone who shows me love. I use pride to attack from the safety of my stronghold.Better me to reject them first then to be rejected. Better me to neglect and trample them first then to be neglected and thus reinforce that that is what I deserve.So the attacks rain out from behind my walls. I am safe there to send out my onslaught of explosions and anger. My anger murders with words. I trample and do damage thus rejecting and neglecting those who have been made my enemy.
I am very strategic in my fortress. I can fire out attacks that leave my “enemies” reeling and then I can retreat back replaying the tapes in my internal word. Leaving them to pick up their own pieces, leaving them to hobble back to their safe places. The sad thing is it brings me some comfort to watch them hobble. This self-righteousness feeds my pride and I convince myself that they deserved to be hurt because they have hurt me; whether or not they have truly hurt me is beside the point. I feel hurt and so feel justified in my default reaction. I am sure my “enemies” have no idea that I have this fortress of rejection, shame, and pride. They have no idea why I have reacted this way. They, I am sure, are left in confusion calling into question our relationship which they should as it is now on shaky ground. The real sad part is that because I have built and secured this castle of pain, this kingdom built by human hands, Jesus stands at the door and knocks but I shut him and anyone else out who could help.
Unfortunately, in reality my wounds are left defenseless and open to attack by the true enemy. In fact he meets me in this place and helps me to reinforce the walls. He supplies the lies to which I clothe myself. He gives me the garments of shame to wrap around my nakedness so that I can hide, so that I am not exposed. We converse there when I am in hiding. He helps me plan the attacks on those deemed my enemies. He gives me the words to say, gives me the actions to take. He binds my hands and feet to the weights of my sins, to my shame, to my self-deprivation, to the memories of my wounds. I have created a kingdom that is really a prison. My “safe” place has become my dungeon. There is a part of me that knows that I am trapped there. Part of me is suffocating in that enclosed space. The walls have been so thickened by the lies that there is not much room inside. The collections of pain, shame, wounds, self-imposed burdens, chains, etc. clutter the small room inside. I am slowly being buried by this place I have built. My castle is becoming my grave.
Having seen this more clearly than ever before, I am left asking – what now? Where is the freedom I was promised? Where is the abundant life? It shouldn’t be this way. What do I do? Well I am not real clear on this part. I know that part of it is bringing the darkness to light. Part of it is sharing this kingdom of mine. Showing others, showing Jesus – not out of accomplishment but out of repentance. Exposing myself in this deep way can only lead to transformation.
I have to open the door to Jesus so that He can enter my little empire. Of course this is not easy has the door has many of my collected hurts barred against it and then there is the locks and chains of shame and pride that I have to remove. But giving Jesus permission to enter is the first and greatest step. Through the Holy Spirit’s power I will begin to understand what mortar holds the bricks in place. Giving him permission to show me will be the key. But He is faithful to help me to begin to excavate the bricks to slowly and carefully break down the walls. It requires that I give him permission to remove each one and requires that I participate in the demolition.
Then we have to work on the clutter that fills the space. I have to allow him to heal those hurts, to remove the cancerous tumors of shame, to soften the defensive calluses of my pride, to find forgiveness for the sins committed against me and for those attacks of unloving sin that I have heaped onto others. This is a long and difficult process of excavation to gain access to the festering wounds of rejection and neglect. I have built this realm over thirty years and it will take time to surrender it. This will not come without opposition. Satan likes this territory in my heart. He is comfortable there in his sovereignty. But he is no match for Jesus. Where Jesus dwells darkness cannot be.
Once Jesus and I dig down deep to the surface of the wounds, we can begin the work of healing and wholeness. Jesus wants to redeem these areas of my heart. He wants to restore them, to complete the work He started when we first called me home. Through the healing process He will create a foundation for which He is the cornerstone. We will then build a new kingdom in this place; a holy empire to which Jesus is sovereign. It will be a little piece of Jesus’s greater domain that I am allowed to steward. A place where a holy war can take place as Jesus will use this empire to increase his own. I will rule with him in freedom and in peace. My hands and feet will no longer be bound but will be released to do the work that they were designed to do.