Wednesday, January 18, 2017

because emotions are dangerous

Confession; many times in my writing I stop just short of full transparency. This is a difficult thing to admit since my desire from the very beginning of this venture has been to be transparent. To let you see the real me in hopes that you yourself will become more transparent with your thoughts, with your feelings, and with the words and the story God has given you was a personal command given and a promise made. The burden of not having always fulfilled it is a tough load to bear, and one I long to put down, after first seeking your forgiveness for not encouraging you to be your completely true self when I did not quite make it there myself.

Revealing all that is within you is one of the most intimidating things you can do yet one of the most freeing. To let all your dirt shine, as mentioned in the past, is to understand, admit, and say I am not in control. I do not care what others may think about me. I know who I am and I know whose I am. My identity is fully planted in the name given through relationship with Christ. His daughter. His own. I was bought with a price. I am His daughter. I am His.

One thing in particular tempts us to keep things inside. It causes us to misdirect others from our core and mask the real with a farce. Or even, despite command and promise, let 99% of the heart show while keeping that last little piece to ourselves, that last little piece that will reveal the whole picture, and truly letting go of all control.


The human heart, human soul, is full of them. Being a female I am tempted to think we are able to stake claim to a million extras but research revealed that while we, as a female species, are a little more sensitive to negative emotions there was actually not that much difference between guys and girls. So fellas, this is for you too!

While emotion is just one seven letter word, the noun in its essence manifests itself in a hundred ways. Varying from simple to complex, and sliding through the whole spectrum of positive to negative, we are full of anger and envy, excitement and love, frustration and shame, caution and boldness, confusion and loneliness, expectation and hope. And through each of the many emotions, parts of our heart will show. To live with and through each emotion while exposing a heart planted in the abiding love, protection, and grace of Christ requires an understanding of two different ways emotions can be dangerous.

Paul David Tripp in one of his daily devotions from New Morning Mercies mentioned not letting you live your life for the moment and by the emotions you feel at the time because "in a moment, your thoughts can seem more important than they actually are. In a moment, your emotions can seem more reliable than they are. In a moment, your needs can seem more essential than they truly are." In a current world of 'yolo' and quoting 'carpe diem' from the past, this is a radical thought stemming from the oldest of truths.

Emotions that come from the immediate are more often than not untrustworthy. They come from snap judgments. They come from first instincts. They come from a defensive mess. They come from Fear. They come with little thought. Truth can be found underneath, but it takes time, more than a split seconds worth, for wisdom to appear; for Hope to rise up. Though 24 hours of wait is a great idea it is not necessary for every situation. What is necessary is remembering the life we are asked to live, and for whom we are asked to live it, is one that stretches for eternity. Though there are hills and valleys producing every manner of emotion, the One guiding us is there for more than a moment. Those little moments may mean much to our human hearts at the time, but in the end it is the long marathon for Him that matters.

Because there are two sides to every coin, we also must delve into the other danger emotions can cause, and it happens when you do one simple act, ignore them.

We all have a line drawn in the sand, a line that cannot be crossed without repercussions of some kind. The problem is, we draw it before we should. Gripped with fear or whatever other emotion, the line is drawn in the spot where our two feet are still comfortably standing. A spot that where no discomfort is felt. Many of us need to extend that line out a little bit farther to a spot that takes us out of ourselves, a place where a step of faith must be taken.

Amidst the desire for going deeper, there is no more skimming the surface. Not giving into the emotions, not understanding them for what they hinders and hindering is what I have been after. I realize so very often I don't give in, don't let my emotions in as much as needed, don't let myself feel them the entire way because of where the unknowns they will take me and of what I might learn about myself when I see them through.

There is a big difference between giving into your emotions and understanding them. If you are going to let God reach you where you are you have to understand the full depth of where the emotions have left you.

It is at that point where growth happens, where inner dispositions begin to shift and change.

So pay attention. Pay attention to what makes you laugh, what makes you cry, and what makes you feel all the feels in between. Then take that vast array and lay them down at the feet of the one who rescued you and keeps you in his hand and let him pick them up for you and show you where to go.

Praying for each of you and the emotions you find surrounding you, pray for me.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

for when you are being taken to deeper places

It's been a year of waiting, a year of being asked by my all knowing Father to just wait.  Yes things are going to happen He said, Yes I am still working, always working, He promised, but you my girl, you need to just wait.  Wait for what is to come.  I spent the year waiting, waiting for what I did not know, sometimes thinking there was a giant party around the corner and if I sat still and patient the whole time He would jump out with a big gift and yell SURPRISE!

In the end, there was not exactly a party and then again maybe I should have thrown one myself because now sitting here and listing--obviously a list is involved if its me--the events of the year I can see His hand through it all and how the hardest of hards and the best of the best and even the sprinkle of surprises mixed in can only be designed by the one most creative of Creators and the Spirit within who thankfully navigates my directionally challenged soul.

Within this past year marked the second hardest event of my own life with the closing of my church and the loss of the stability of my church community, these people who have seen me and known me and me them through the darkest of times and the joyous of moments.  It also brought about a wealth of His good things, the first being a new calling in my life, a trajectory that only His will could vastly change.

Adding to the statistics of the year from the severe doubts that come with loss and confusion to enjoying my friends and family more as I fight to let go of the control I was never supposed to have, was brought about a better understanding of patience with life itself and the lesson that immediate solutions are not always, and honestly almost never, necessary.  Except in a true emergency, and not just what we want to place urgency on, there is always time for thought and prayer and the learning that what is happening will be clearer, or even over, after a mere 24 hour wait.  Added also, is that what seems broken, whether in a relationship, a requirement placed on yourself, or just a piece of furniture, was either not a needed item and can be let go or needs the time and care to be placed right again, something only the Gospel can bring.

Have you taken the opportunity to recognize the Good from your year?  Specifically those treasures hidden in the rock hard things bring.  Focus on that for a moment, look for His Good.

With every ending comes a beginning whether we are at the end of a year, the end of a day, or the end of a moment.  In the short journey for a new word to place as a compass for life in this next 365ish days there was a leading towards so many directions that it was assumed somewhere the world's magnetic pull had disappeared sending the needle spinning wildly.  Thoughts of the need for contentment rose in the most uncomfortable of ways and in the midst of reactions that do not drip with pride.  The desire to give what we have to others and take--accept--the treasures others have to give sent a warming smile throughout my being.

But confusion came next due to those words feeling awfully familiar.  After a bit of research through past writings, the mystery was solved as those were both words chosen in past years.  Contentment, give/take, and slow were each contemplated during the first three years of choosing a word to lead my thoughts.  Explore and enjoy was begrudgingly settled upon at the beginning of our year of infamy  and then after months and months of not understanding why I always felt so unsettled God in his violent love blew life up so that He could rebuild it.  Abide, onward, and wait took up the three years after taking me down roads never ventured that felt oddly comforting even in their unfamiliarity.  So here, this day, if my heart is hearing correctly which, lets face it, is never a guarantee, I am choosing the word deeper.

Deeper.  Deepening all parts of life.  Delving under to the depths of not only more that each of these words hold, but more of the parts of life given to me.  There has always been a temptation of skimming the surface; of doing what is expected, getting the jist, making it good enough for now until I can come back later and really invest.  Well that time is now.  Going deeper will take time, commitment, and discovering what is a priority and what is just distraction.  Going deeper is also not a place to venture alone.

When you choose to go deep spreading yourself thin is not an option, when you choose to go deep it will have to involve choosing less.  However, in the choosing of less, you will automatically get more.  More knowledge of a topic, more understanding of a person, more enjoyment from a moment, more gratification from an accomplishment, and more familiarity with a Father who has given your these opportunities to begin with.  

Madeline L'engle wrote "The times I have been most fully me are when I have been wholly involved in someone or something else; when I am listening, rather than talking...I look forward to deepening relationship with my husband, my children, my friends but knowing more of Him.  
That will be the best deepening of all.

So taking each of those past words chosen, I will rely on Grace given to delve deeper.  One at a time, a month or so at a time, starting with contentment, because in a life desiring to run hard after Christ that is where it needs to begin.

"One of the most beautiful fruits of grace is a heart that is content, more given to worship than demand and more given to the joy of gratitude than the anxiety of want. When you are satisfied with the Giver, because you have found in him the life you were looking for, you are freed from the ravenous quest for satisfaction that is the discouraging existence of so many people." Paul David Tripp

I hate to even attempt to guess how many times I will stumble, fall, and fail.  They will be countless.  I can promise you that, but I can also hold on to the promise of Hope that those new mercies do come each morning.  The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; [because] GREAT is [His} faithfulness. Lam. 3:22-23.  

Please remember there are an infinite number of endings that can happen in life which just means there are an infinite number of beginnings following them.  Choose next steps slowly, carefully, forgiving yourself when you hesitate, giving yourself grace when you falter and fall, all the time remembering that you were not meant to do it alone and not meant to accomplish all the things, just one at a time.

Find the one thing God is calling you to do next and go after it trusting that even if it feels like no progress is being made that He is working, always working, in the midst of everything; crafting in your heart, in your mind, and in your habits the emotions, thoughts, and skills needed to put into bodily action what is being prepared in Spirit.

I am praying for your next thing, for finding the direction you are being called, and for being able to delve deeply into it. Pray for me.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

a song for sunday

As I, as we, continue through this world knowing that what is a mystery to us is a carefully laid plan to our Creator I long to rest in Him alone, to put into practice what my mind knows to be true that in Him alone comes rest and hope and if I pour myself out for Him, He will be gracious and merciful to continue to fill me up.
Psalm 62
Aaron Keyes
My soul finds rest in God alone
My Rock and my salvation,
A fortress strong against my foes
And I will not be shaken.
Though lips may bless and hearts may curse
And lies like arrows pierce me,
I’ll fix my heart on righteousness,
I’ll look to Him who hears me.
O praise Him, hallelujah,
My Delight and my Reward;
Everlasting, never failing,
My Redeemer, my God.
Find rest, my soul, in God alone
Amid the world’s temptations;
When evil seeks to take a hold
I’ll cling to my salvation.
Though riches come and riches go,
Don’t set your heart upon them;
The fields of hope in which I sow
Are harvested in heaven.
I’ll set my gaze on God alone,
And trust in Him completely;
With every day pour out my soul,
And He will prove His mercy.
Though life is but a fleeting breath,
A sigh too brief to measure,
My King has crushed the curse of death
And I am His forever.

O praise Him, O praise Him, hallelujah, hallelujah,
O praise Him, O praise Him, hallelujah, hallelujah,
O praise Him, O praise Him, hallelujah! hallelujah.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

because it is a new year

Happiest of New Years to each and every one of you!

For one who desires to be ahead of the game, I always found myself feeling behind as soon as January 1st rolled around.  It felt as if everyone already had Christmas packed up and put away with a house simplified and cleaned out and resolutions written, posted, and beginning to be checked off.  The rushed feeling within was quite unwelcomed after a season of nothing but.  

A couple years ago I made a conscience decision to slow down.  To take each step not quite as quickly as I would have before and give myself, and my mind, time to be quiet, to listen before I began to plan, to speak, to act.  What resulted was the ability to have an unhurried Spirit even if life around continued to bustle at it's usual pace and there is no time that it is more appreciated than this day, the beginning of a new year.

Here I sit, still reflecting, smiling over and enjoying the memories of a December spent with family and friends celebrating the birth of our Savior, not feeling as if that is a time done and gone but one to relish and let settle before moving on.

Yes, sometime in the next few days there will be cleaning and organizing, planning and budgeting, and pondering of goals and desires for the year to come but for now there is quiet and thanksgiving that an old year has passed and a new one has come and spanning them both is my God guiding my vision for both.

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;

naught be all else to me, save that thou art -

thou my best thought, by day or by night;
waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.
Be thou my wisdom, and thou my true word;
I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord.
Thou my great Father; thine own may I be,
thou in me dwelling and I one with thee.

Riches I heed not, nor vain, empty praise;
thou mine inheritance, now and always;
thou and thou only first in my heart,
high King of heaven, my treasure thou art.

High King of heaven, my victory won,
may I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,

still be my vision, O Ruler of all.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

for when you think you are not known

You sit, wondering, do they notice me, notice my presence, notice my smiles, notice my tears.  Amidst the conversation, the fellowship, the friendship, am I that forgettable, that invisible, that insignificant.  In the world so big and wide it is that which glitters that gets the awe and attention.  The golden chalice draws the eye while the humble clay cup dutifully serves day after day.  If the squeaky wheel gets the grease, what do all the other wheels get...

Lest anyone reading become worried, no I am not, Praise God, currently in the depths of despair so while kind words and encouragement are never turned away and always treasured more than the giver can imagine there is not a sudden need to be boosted up out of the pit.  However courage of Spirit does allow me to admit that this is not an unfamiliar feeling from the past and will be recognized again in the future and experience has taught me that more than a few instantly recognize and empathize with the feelings.

New surroundings can bring about the oldest of memories.  That which has never been truly confronted, hurts that have never completely healed, or even pains thoroughly prayed over, dealt with and moved past can be plunked upon your door step once again tempting you to open them up and set them upon your shelves when the senses begin whirling trying to make the unfamiliar places your body resides in familiar places for your mind to understand.

As easy as it is to succumb to these feelings of insecurity, of vulnerability, it is also just as easy to push them down away from the surface of completely tangible.  Pressing them just far enough to the point where they are barely covered by whatever you have chosen to hide them from visibility.  It can be found laughable the way in which the human heart tries to readjust the negative things we feel.  Those with the introverted tendencies I know so well turn into themselves even more attempting to swallow themselves whole in hopes that no one will notice them even though being noticed is what their heart cries out for.  In their equally as confusing but completely opposite way, the extrovert becomes more extroverted drawing attention to themselves in an effort to confuse and keep your eyes on the parts of them they seek to show so that the other ones will hopefully go unnoticed.  Misdirection on both accounts.

As always, it is the speaking it into existence, the bringing it into the light that causes the fog to lift, the dust to blow away, and clarity to begin to form.  Darkness never gives a true story.  Light is the only thing that shows Truth.

The Truth is we all want to be noticed, all want to be known and all fear them both as well.

Years ago in the car the other half of my heart who has vowed to love me forever, and I him in return regardless of life's curveballs and our own sinful stupidity, played me a song on the tail end of our biggest struggle to date.  That song, Josh Wilson's song titled One Safe Soul, beautifully simplifies this oxymoronic struggle within our human hearts.

Man's greatest fear is being alone,
And his second greatest is being known,
But if you are both known and loved,
You've got nothing to be scared of

We don't want to be alone because we feel rejected but we don't want to be fully know because we fear rejection.  It's being both known and then loved that gives our hearts the ability to soar.

Tim Keller puts it another way and then adds in the key component for all aspects of life, the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, makes all the other pieces make the sense the were designed to make.
"To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial.  To be known and not loved is our greatest fear.  But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God.  It is what we need more than anything.  It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us." 

This desire of our heart, this desire to be noticed, sought after, recognized, known is our soul crying out for something to fill a void only able to be filled by our Creator.

Thank you for the people placed in our lives who know us well and love us despite their knowledge.  They are an extended grace of which we are so undeserving.  But to place all hopes on them, to place upon them the burden of keeping you upright, to sit and seek out only the love of others to keep your spirits up and your Spirit well, will leave you alone and unknown more than any heart needs or desires.  

We will each find ourselves around a bend we on our own would have never journeyed toward.  A path on our own we would have never trodden.  A corner turned because the way in which we wanted to go, the planned route we never assumed would go anywhere but straight, was blocked forcing a new direction.  The unfamiliar will come up without a familiar face around in which to hold a gaze unless you know and understand One who knows and loves you,  who has known and loved you, since before time began.

In countless places, with countless personalities, amidst countless individual situations we sit wondering, do they noticed me, notice my presence, notice my smiles, notice my tears assuming the answer is no.  Sometimes it will be, sometimes by the other struggling souls around you the answer will most definitely be no, you are not noticed by them, but always, always you are noticed.

Because O Lord, you have searched me and known me!  You know when I sit down and when I rise up;  you discern my thoughts from afar.  You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.  Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.  You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.  Psalm 139:1-6 ESV

With the end of the year coming, with the analyzing of the past year's events and the desires of the new year ahead, I pray we see all the ways we were known and loved, yes by each other because we are the hands and feet of Christ here on this earth, but mostly by our Father who, no matter the paths we each took or were taken on this year, loves and knows us and always has and always will.

Pray for me as I seek to make that my focus and reflection, I'll be praying for you.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

for when you long for simplicity

FRIENDS is my favorite.  Yes friends are my favorite too, but FRIENDS, that beloved show of the late 90s and early 2000s, will always have a top ranking in my heart and to my eyes.  Their humor and friendships, the way none of them could take themselves too seriously because each was a hot mess in a different way, even the way they titled their episodes make me love it more.  Seriously, the way they titled their episodes, the one where..., was not just witty but quite helpful.  While I'm thinking about it, efficient wittiness is one of my favorites as well.  For never before seen footage, you had a hint of something that was going to happen by reading the title and later while searching for a desired episode you are reminded at a glance of what that episode held thus providing a quick end to  your search.

There is a large part of me that wants to go back and change the title of everything I've written renaming them each with efficient wittiness, both for myself and for others, so that at a glance it is known what might be held in the heart of the words; so that at a glance the hard fought lessons, encouragements, and words of the past can prick the consciousness giving reminders to carry into the future.

For today the title would be for when you long for simplicity.

At first glance, it might seem like a thematic seasonal post is coming next filled with reminders that in this season, this bustling December brimming with parties, appointments, shopping, and whatnot, you must force yourself to stop, slow the race around you, and breathe to soak in the peace of Advent, the peace we now get to have because we are no longer waiting on the Messiah's first arrival but living in Him; anticipating His return while remembering long ago those who faithfully waited on His initial appearance.

Yes, all good things and just writing those words immediately brought a calm to my Spirit and a smile to my face, but what about the rest of time?  The other days when the Christian calendar might not be as obviously beckoning for your stillness.

Does it seem, as of late, to anyone else besides the controller of these words, that there is a heavier overall desire to minimize, to simplify.

Whether it's paring down the number of objects owned, or cancelling appointments on the calendar, or deciding what to dos on the list really aren't necessary, or cutting out relationships in your life that require more work than seems worth it, or, or, or.  It is a real, and becoming much more common, occurrence to do whatever can be done to make life more simple and less arduous because we feel in our hearts that complication is what is reigning.

To the human heart and mind it makes perfect sense. 

A handful of friends spent this year magically tidying up and shed themselves of gobs, yes I said gobs, of unneeded, undesired items.  I even followed suit, just without reading the official magic words.  Getting rid of items can mean less work on upkeep and therefore more time available.  It teaches and reminds that wants and needs are not the same thing and having more just to have more is just more.  Purging your life of things that don't bring joy will, in theory, allow more focus on things that do.  However, seeking joy from any material possession will always leave you lacking.

Likewise with those over scheduled schedules, the obvious solution is to get rid of the things you don't want to do or don't feel called to do if you want to add a more socially, 'christianly' acceptable spin.  We all have a breaking point, some of us just require a little extra pressure, and the first thing done is paring down those schedules.  Gone will be the weight from doing what is expected, what is assumed, instead of what is desired, what is meant specifically for you.  Somewhere in the lessons you realize you could not keep up the pace, you realize you just cannot do it all.  The blessing beneath that curse is that you were never meant to. 

In a recent sermon I heard a now favorite colloquial phrase in regards to this subject, and I quote, the bible is chock full of things you can't do.  I just love that phrase chock full.  To a southern heart it means full to the brim, not one more thing can be stuffed in there without it overflowing and making a mess everywhere.  It also doesn't hurt that it is straight Truth.  The creator of the world, which means your creator as well, never required you to do it all, and He certainly never required you to do it alone.

The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer has quickly become one of the books I will forever treasure for opening my eyes to life as it was designed to be lived, for helping me pay attention to that sweet Spirit within who has never ceased pointing and guiding all the way.  Though not even quite finished reading it for the first time through, my copy is already worn from use and heavy from the extra ink, and the occasional crayon, needed for underlining and margin notes.

Tozer, or A Dub'ya, as my Friday morning ladies and I call him writes, "Be thou exalted is the language of victorious spiritual experience.  It is a little key to unlock the door to great treasures of grace.  It is central in the life of a godly man.  Let the seeking man reach a place where life and lips join to say continually, Be thou exalted, and a thousand minor problems will be solved at once.  His Christian life ceases to be the complicated thing it had been before and becomes the very essence of simplicity."

The very essence.  Simplicity.  Be Thou Exalted.  God first.

Life as a Christian was never going to be easy, going against everything the world holds in highest honor is a hard row to hoe, but holding the same things as the world in highest places is when everything becomes disjointed.

For this girl who yearns for simplicity, for all of us who seek and change and ignore and purge and do without just to taste a hint of a simpler life, this is balm.  This is a single step.  A scary one for some, a difficult one for some, a giant leap for some, but one that brings immediate and lasting simplicity.    
There will be no perfection, for only One is perfect, or even the illusion of perfection, that are what many see as the greatest success of life.  But there will be peace no matter the chaos around because the lines are now in order, the rightful one holds the lead spot and everything else can see where they fit, where they have longed to belong.

Everything falls into place because of God.

Yes, 'tis the season now but 'tis the season always.  Life in Christ changes you not for a moment, not for a five week period between two holidays, but forever.  Your inner disposition finds simplicity when it's only focus is Christ and your attitude about life falls into step as your heart clings to Him.

Praying for you to simply need Christ, pray for me.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

for when you have spiritual scar tissue

It is the last day of November, a month that holds so much joy from birthday celebrations, where distinct seasonal changes finally become apparent in The South, when thankfulness, though desperately needed for our hearts each day on this earth, takes a central role in the themes of life all around.

It is also a time where your heart feels constantly at odds with your body and mind.  Every part of the being inside longs for slowness, for the chance to sit, enjoy, and appreciate the leaves and the wind, the little and big ones alike are excited about time off of normal schedules, and the Advent Season that has begun with all the joy and beauty it entails.

Your heart wants to soak it all in, but your mind and body are trying to accomplish all of the tasks deemed needed so that there is something on which your heart can soak.  It can feel, quite often, like a never ending battle, between the undertaking of tasks and the triumph of appreciation.

Currently I am sitting in bed on a quiet morning, heating pad firmly pressed on my lower back, as I attempt to be still long enough to recuperate from aggravating a decade old injury.  All around me both physically in view and the long list in my head, are mounds of to dos loving to make themselves known and mock that they still sit uncompleted.  The living room has tools and supplies piled in corners waiting for their turn in a fireplace remodel that will hopefully be finished before stockings need to be hung.  Tables, chairs and coolers from our son's birthday party before Thanksgiving are sitting on the porch needing to find their way back into storage.  Paraphernalia from our two youngests' homemade zip line complete with beanbag crash pad are in the yard soaking wet from the rain that finally showed up.  A dead squirrel, the conquest of our newest kitty, most definitely needs to be disposed of.   Pecans need to be picked.  Suitcases put away.  A toilet needs to be fixed.  Clean the house could go on every list every day for every person for now until forever.

When your mind desires to process through words, everything is fodder, everything is noticed and analyzed, much to it's dismay and appreciation.  And so goes it with the reason I am resting right here instead of working over there.

16 years ago, almost to the day, the middle of my body was injured in a car accident.  Parts were compressed that have no business being pushed together and breaks happened, 5 to be exact.  All of them were in places that couldn't be stabilized so there were no casts, no outside visual of any injury, except for the crutches needed for a couple weeks.  However, inside was a mess of bones fusing themselves back together all the while producing scar tissue around them in hopes of building up protection against any future injuries.  Though it was common to have tinges of discomfort, normal movement seemed to have been present until a day recently when the scar tissue popped revealing underneath that what was thought to be healed didn't in fact come back together the right way causing pain, lack of mobility, and mega frustration.

Research showed me that this is a common problem, that protective layer that built up actually restricts and hinders the performance of intended functions, it binds up and ties down tissues that need to move freely.

Jeff Dunbar said "Your physical life is the laboratory for your spiritual life to grow."  Is it any wonder then why the first thought was this, what other parts of  life built up a protective layer around them only to have actually hindered true and complete healing?

Ask that question aloud.  See what happens.

It's a tested method so no worries.  I did the same thing,  I asked it.  At first there was fear of what would come up.  Would there be an onslaught of guilt?  Failure?  Would my mind feel as if it would explode from the sheer number of memories rocked?

Quite the opposite is what became true.

Just as a hot beverage can be felt warming the body slowly after a deep drink from a cup, warmth can be felt slowly as your heart feels the comfort from a Spirit longing to comfort, help, and heal.

Very few times in  life is there ever a quick fix, especially when dealing with emotions and character.  Almost all changes involve work, hard work, dedication to the task, presence in the solutions.  More often than not the reason we don't open ourselves up to change is because we know the hard that will come, we are aware of the adjustments needed and that things might very well get worse before they get better.  That is exactly how the scar tissue is formed, that is exactly how we become hindered from functioning the way we were intended to, the way we were designed.

All of life is sanctification, all of life molds and shapes to create a heart ever growing, ever striving to become more like Christ.  What happens in the physical translates immediately to the spiritual.  What happens to our bodies affects our hearts.  And beneath them both is a God already working to heal completely, changing our inner disposition, restoring us day by day.

Friends, it can be so hard to let go, oh so very hard not to build up your own protective layer trying to block further hurt or injury from any angle, but with Him we can "humble ourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, so that in due time He may exalt you.  Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)"

I'll be praying for you, pray for me.