I am not shy about throwing myself under the bus and owning up to my mistakes and shortcomings. I have one area that I have felt led to address lately. Perhaps a backstory might best explain.
Several years back, my best friend and I walked together every morning at 5 am. Those walks and the talks that resulted were some of the best I have ever had! She learned early on that when a person hurt me, I was quick to put them in a box. I have been wounded emotionally more than I like to talk about. My defense mechanism became my box approach. She inquired, “What do you mean that you put them in a box?” I explained that when someone hurt me, I had these imaginary boxes in my heart and mind where I placed them, closed the lid, and locked them away. Sometimes I even threw away the key. I explained that boxes were better than walls because I did not want anyone getting a ladder and climbing over that sucker! This insured me that although we may have to share future interactions, they would only be superficial and could not reach my heart. She asked, “Well can they ever get out of the box?” Normally it was a one shot deal. Once they were in, they remained. Grace was not my strong suit. For my birthday, she bought me a literal box. It was the cutest little box with a little latch and cards inside with the people’s names pre-written that she knew were either in the box or subject to be.
The downfall of the box approach is that as much as I guard my heart from the pain of a relationship, I also locked all of the potential joy that the relationship could bring to my life away in the box. I could not only lock away the negative that someone brought to my life, I had to lock away everything that they brought to my life. I was also inadvertently locking away my presence from their life. What if God had a purpose for our mutual presence in one another’s life?
I am still rather quick to throw someone in the box. I do not even tell them or give them the benefit of three strikes and you’re out. Due to the nature of some of my most trusted relationships inflicting the deepest wounds, I just stopped extending second chances. If you wrong me (even if you do not realize it) you just might be in a box somewhere! I do not have voodoo dolls although the thought does makes me chuckle.
Just a few weeks back, someone hurt me. It was a casual acquaintance. I did not immediately throw them in a box although I did consider it. I allowed myself some time to think about it. I decided to exercise grace and to give them the benefit of the doubt.
I can tell you that would not have happened in the past. However, I have been praying that God would soften my hardened heart and that he would burden it with the things about me that were displeasing to him.
Suddenly, boxes do not seem like the best idea that I have ever had. Go figure! They go against pretty much everything that God is – love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness.
While there are some very legitimate reasons to distance myself from some people – I have often over exercised this privilege and decided to err in caution so much so that my heart had begun to look like an extra space storage facility for boxes. Have you ever moved and had to pack things in boxes later to find that you did not quite mark them properly? You could not remember what was even in them? When you opened them you thought to yourself, why did I even save this? For me, I had boxes and boxes of people and it was not about what they had done. Nope! It was about the grudges that I was holding. Grudges were filling those boxes. Ouch! Sometimes God’s lessons come with a sting. Suddenly, it was not about what the people in the boxes had done at all. It was all on me. Never once had the word GRUDGE crossed my mind. After all, I was more in the “home” security mode – protecting the heart where I lived.
Why do I put myself out here? Why do I write? Why do I share my flaws with you? Simply, to glorify God! I hope that by sharing my heart that somewhere along the way someone might see His!
We all have flaws whether we care to admit it or not. I am sure that I have more than my fair share. If we do in fact learn from each other’s mistakes, there is likely a great deal I can teach people!
If you take anything away from this, I pray that it would be that isolating yourself from God’s people as a way of self protection and preservation also isolates you from His purpose for your life – to love!
Until Next Time,