Love Embraced: When Walls Need to Come Down (Guest Post: Joy Lenton)

This is the fifth of six planned guest posts by blogging friends of mine on Love Embraced: A Journey in and through Suffering, a book I will be releasing on Mother’s Day (8 May 2016). Each of the guest bloggers reflect on one quote from #LoveEmbraced that spoke to them the most.

bio image for new WoJ blog

Today, we welcome Joy Lenton, who I met through blogging. She has been a wonderful friend and encouragement to me through the book publishing process, also offering invaluable editing feedback.

Joy is a grateful grace dweller, contemplative Christian writer, poet and blogger, author of ‘Seeking Solace: Discovering grace in life’s hard places’. She enjoys encouraging others on their journey of life and faith at her blogs wordsofjoy.me and poetryjoy.com as she seeks to discover the poetic in the prosaic and the eternal in the temporal. You can connect with her on Twitter and on Facebook. Welcome, Joy!

Hurt threads through her words and I feel the pain as if it were my own. Some writers have a way of sharing that make us feel completely in tune with them.

As I’ve been reading Love Embraced: A Journey in and Through Suffering, it’s like looking into a mirror. Our reasons for grief and pain, our struggles, guilt and shame may have different origins, but nonetheless, Anna Louise Smit and I are on the same page.

Wounded soul speaking to wounded soul. A woman aching to be loved. Needing her Saviour’s reassurance and tender touch. Oh yes, me too.

There were several passages that resonated strongly with me, but this statement in particular could have been describing my own walk of faith:

Love Embraced pin image

Surrendering is an ongoing process as we press into Jesus in the overcoming of a painful past, and in seeking the daily solace our soul craves. It’s a continual yielding and resting in His grace.

And those walls? Mine are crumbling, falling faster as I allow God closer access to them. He shifts a few bricks here and there, and now and then several of them collapse into a heap at my feet.

Sometimes they surprise us anew with their constrictions, but I sense a gradual loosening over time, a breath of Holy Spirit air sighing its way into the gaps. Light appearing through the darkness.

I’ve felt fear and emotional pain closing me in over years. I’ve held my shaky self against its walls, seeking refuge of sorts behind the barricades.

I’ve been weighed down with the heaviness of heartache, sealed and cemented with tears. Held fast to a faltering foundation that can’t support me.

The poem below (taken from my book: ‘Seeking Solace: Discovering grace in life’s hard places’) reveals something of the pain of living with a wall around our hearts:

wall around my heart

Wall around my heart

There is a wall
around my heart,
hardening from hurt and pain,
stony through suffering and shame,

growing taller, thicker by the year,
until I feel
I could disappear
beneath its weight

Enclosed
Entombed
Suffocating shadow
looming over all my days

It’s a covering,
a carapace, concealing
raw, soft vulnerability
within; a tender place

of wounding through words
and deeds of others
whose target struck and
stuck fast as shield impenetrable

Stiff, unyielding rock,
sheer cliff
to topple and destroy
all who may
approach this land

where I dwell
with drawbridge up, castle
fortified, defended, safe
as houses – built on sand
©JoyLenton2016

There is no lasting peace behind a self-built shelter. There is no security when we rely solely on little old me.

There’s only dim recognition of our condition or sad resignation about our situation. An awakening is needed to set us free.

When we finally turn away from ourselves and turn our desperate hearts to God, we begin a journey toward wholeness and healing. A slow crawl back to sanity. A long walk of obedience in His direction.

Life isn’t meant to be lived alone. Fear can feel like a constant (albeit unwanted) companion. It imprisons us, makes us separate because we hesitate to be as authentic as we want to be.

We need one another. And we need our Lord and Saviour most of all. Left to our own resources, we flounder and falter. We need an Anchor for our unsteady souls – the Hope and promise we have in Jesus.

It’s our choice, minute by minute to “clench in fear or to surrender and embrace” as Anna puts it. In the embracing we hold fast to God; we begin to invite others in, and learn to embrace the pain before we can live into it and come out the other side.

I’m still a work in progress. Pain can knock me sideways some days as it hits like an emotional blast from the past.

But there is hope in seeing change, in being held while we weep, in knowing God’s got us covered. As Anna says:

“Even now, I am already tasting and seeing the goodness of the Lord in these new daily choices.”

May it be so, Lord. May we lean into Your love and be embraced, held safe. Amen.

LOVE EMBRACED:  A JOURNEY IN AND THROUGH SUFFERING

Not one of us is immune to suffering. So many of us have experienced loss, rejection, trauma and/or deep hurt. But often we decide to keep working, to keep going and to keep numbing that which we are terribly scared will break us into tiny little pieces. Love Embraced records the author’s own journey through such suffering, in: caring for her mother dying of cancer, grieving her mother’s death, her diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and working through repressed childhood memories. 

But, it also reveals how in starting to face that which she was too frightened to face, she began to embrace and be embraced by a mighty God into:  freedom, hope, comfort, peace, strength and deep joy.

Anna’s dear friend Emily Stephenson is also promoting the book with beautiful handmade jewelry, inspired by #LoveEmbraced. Below is an example of what you can find at The Wildflower Heart:

loved meme final

This post is linked up to Jennifer’s #TellHisStory and Holly’s #TestimonyTuesday:

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tellhisstory-badge

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10 thoughts on “Love Embraced: When Walls Need to Come Down (Guest Post: Joy Lenton)

  1. Anna, I am so excited to see how God is going to use your story. But I can already tell that He is already working. The relationship that you and Joy have built because of similar journeys is from Him.

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    1. God is indeed working! Yes, the friendship with Joy has been such a gift. I’ve been so blessed by each one of you on my Launch Team, with God’s Presence shining through each of you.

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  2. You so often speak my heart, Joy. And this book sounds awesome, too. I love the quote about embarking into a new transformational journey, leaning into grace, and years of walls coming down brick by brick. It’s such an ongoing process of surrender, isn’t it? Like you “I sense a gradual loosening over time, a breath of Holy Spirit air sighing its way into the gaps.” Your creative words always paint such a hope-filled picture in my heart. And Anna, it sounds like I could really identify with the message in your book as well. Blessings and hugs to you both!

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    1. Thanks, Trudy! Joy’s words are such a blessing, aren’t they? I’m so thankful God brought us together.

      Thanks for your sweet encouragement to us both, Trudy.

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    2. Trudy, thank you so much for following me over here! I think you’ll find a lot you can relate to in Anna’s book. You’ll hear a bit more about it when I write my review and you read others as well. Yielding to God may sound easy but it can be hard to let go of the things which we have held close for years, even though they are damaging for us. There is a degree of pain in the pulling away from the past, as well as in allowing it to swallow us up so we drown. But oh the freedom we gain when we trust God enough to hold us when those walls come crumbling down! Hope remains a safe anchor for our unsteady souls. We always have hope of seeing change in this life and beyond. Blessings and hugs to you! 🙂 x

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  3. Anna, thank you for the honour and privilege of being able to write a post for you. I’ve been so blessed by our friendship over time. As Kristina notes above, it has led to lots of “You too?” moments for us. I’m excited to see what God will do with the works of your hands as this beautiful book is released into the world! Xx ❤

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    1. You’re so very welcome, Joy and thank you for writing such a beautiful post for my blog. I am sure it will continue to bless others who visit too. I’m praying for God to bless those who read it. I know He has a plan for it all…otherwise I wouldn’t have been nudged to continue time and time again through things that have been far from easy!

      Looking forward to quieter moments to continue reading your book as well (and share about it here too). Your words are such a blessing.

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  4. You light up my life, Anna. Thanks for being who you are, sweet friend. God bless you this week. I’m so glad to have read this today. Hugs. Can’t wait for your book.

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