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