I’ve spent a huge majority of my life in isolation. I’ve felt like a weed among beautiful flowers. I’ve tried to please others, to figure out where I belong, and to fill a deep void within my soul that seemingly can never be filled no matter how much Earthly stuff I shove into it. I’ve worshiped false idols, idolized other people, and turned my back in anger, pain, and frustration against God during my darkest times. I’ve felt lonely, alone, afraid, worn out, exhausted, and apathetic at times. I fear being rejected. I fear being abandoned. I fear being replaced. Growing up, my environment taught me to believe that it was every person for themselves, that people were most likely going to hurt me, and that I should just save myself the trouble of working towards a relationship or friendship with someone because it was going to end horribly.
In my isolation, hurt, loneliness, and pain, I had built up a wall, a fortress. A massive structure so thick and so large, with no doors and no windows, that no one or no thing could be allowed in. I had felt the sting of the words thrown like daggers towards me. I had felt the solid hardness of the cold stares and glares like rocks hurled towards me. I had endured the overbearing extreme temperatures of the heated anger and the ice-cold rejection of those who had claimed to be my friend. So what else could I do but protect myself from those attacks? I even built a moat around that fortress.
Over time, I realized that not only did that fortress keep out all the stuff I wanted to keep out, but it was keeping out all the stuff that God wanted to give me, that God wanted to show me. I was keeping out God’s love. Very recently I was made aware of the fact that I still have that fortress to this day, and it’s still standing. I have found myself cowering in that fortress, trying to protect myself from the pain of change. I had asked God to change me, but what I have not been prepared for is the amount of pain it would take to fulfill that change. I had not realized just how far I had stepped back into my fortress until a loving soul bluntly pointed it out to me. And of course I took it gracefully, giving them a look of disbelief, questioning the validity of their words, refusing to take them seriously. In fact, I might have lovingly told them that they were sadly mistaken and that they were wrong. In all actuality, I was lying right to myself. I guess that’s the beauty of denial.
Shortly after that I had a visitor come knocking on my fortress. I refused to let them in. I didn’t ask who they were, I didn’t look out to see who it was, I didn’t even bother to acknowledge their presence. I went deeper into my fortress and silently hoped they would go away and leave me alone. I didn’t want to go out and play. After a while, after I thought the visitor was gone, I came back out a little further towards the door to enjoy the peace and quiet. I came out, and then I heard a soft knocking at the door. What? It’s been this long and they are still here? I froze, not wanting to move, still wanting to pretend that I didn’t hear anything. After what seemed like hours, I heard a soft voice call out to me,
“April, why are you hiding from me? Why are you afraid? Why are you ashamed to come let me in?”
I felt the tears forming in my eyes. I couldn’t speak. I didn’t want to speak. There was nothing that I could say that would make sense of what was going on inside my head. Again, I waited, telling myself that I hadn’t heard anything. Again, after what seemed like hours, I heard again,
“April, let me in.”
Me: “I can’t.”
“All you have to do is let me in. Just let me in.”
Me: “I don’t want you to see what the inside looks like. I don’t want you to see all the chaos, the clutter, the disorganized mess which lies about. I’m ashamed and embarrassed to say that I have not been doing a very good job as of late with maintaining this place. I can’t allow you to see what a horrible mess I’ve made. So if you would please just come back some other time, maybe it will be better then. Please, not now. I’m not ready for you right now.”
Another long bout of silence ensued, and I thought my visitor had left. So I settled back down in the darkest corner of my fortress, and closed my eyes. Until I heard this:
“My child, I don’t care what it looks like. I don’t care what a mess it is. I don’t care that it’s not picture perfect. I’m not here to look at some picture perfect place as in those places I don’t belong. There’s nothing for me there. But here, among the chaos, and the mess, and the clutter, THIS IS WHERE I BELONG. You see, I’m here to help you clean it up. I’m here to sit with you when you need to take breaks. I’m here to do some of the harder things for you. I’m here to fill that hole you’ve been trying to fill, the hole that was created just for Me. I’m here to remind you that you don’t have to do this alone.
“My child, my love for you overflows the oceans. Overwhelms the skies. Lights up the darkness. My love for you moves mountains. Fills the air with beautiful sound. All for you. I know you feel unloved, unimportant, alone, afraid, and that you want to give up. I hear the pain in your heart as if it was my very own. My child, I’m not here because you’ve got it all together. I’m here because I want to be here. Because I want to draw you close to me and provide you the love and protection that you need. Take my hand, my child.
“When you feel unloved, unimportant, undeserving, and insecure about your place and your purpose in this world, I need you to remember one thing. I NEED YOU TO REMEMBER TO WHOM YOU BELONG. That, my child, will never change.”
It’s amazing what we hear when we open our hearts and our souls to God.
April Brantley, CR Mental Health Team X-Factor