(The Abundant Life Series – Batch 3)
I am guarded with most people. Having been hurt, let down, rejected, ridiculed and hated on in so many ways in the past, I realize that I put up a wall daily with most people with whom I interact. There are people who I have been around for years therefore, like in a working environment or in an academic group or some other sphere, who think they know me but they don’t really. For, from day one, I only allowed them to see and know certain aspects of me that I chose to reveal. In short, they were allowed to only come so close but no further.
This wall that I erect is not done intentionally. It just comes up whenever I’m around most people, especially strangers or those who have given me some indication that they don’t have my best interest at heart or don’t like me for whatever reason or are not peaceable or take pleasure in making me miserable. This wall therefore, comes up and warns me of possible danger, that it is not safe to be me and that I need to be on my guard.
I have resolved though, that I need to ask the Lord for help with this, as showing some level of vulnerability with people is good. I’ve looked at some women who have no problem being open with others and how they feel and what they’ve been through or are going through and I have been genuinely amazed as to how comfortable they are doing this, even to strangers. I have been like: I can’t do that. I can’t let my voice or my facial expression or how I behave or respond or what I say, reveal how I feel, especially when I feel vulnerable, unsure, overwhelmed, weak or afraid.
I want to but I just can’t. I don’t ever want people to detect any kind of weakness or fear or vulnerability in my voice and tone and so, I don’t pretend but I make sure to sound firm, so that they cannot detect how I may truly be feeling. It is not that I don’t want to be vulnerable. It is that sadly, I haven’t found that environment in people generally (although there are rare exceptions) where I feel safe to let my defences down.
If I do, will they hurt me? Will they laugh at me or go and spread my business maliciously for entertainment, as people love to do? Will I be criticized harshly or considered to be pathetic and told to just suck it up?
These are some of the questions that bombard my mind when I wish I could just be myself and tell people, when they ask: “How are you?”, not the usual, “I’m fine thanks” when I’m not fine but that I’m not really doing too well on that day, that I’m scared, weary or that I’m not feeling all that great or that I am saddened by how some aspect of my life has turned out and that I constantly fight the temptation to worry about what the future will hold and sometimes doubt God’s promises to me and wonder if Prince Charming will ever come and sweep me off my feet and if I’ll ever have children (at my increasing age) or that I feel tired by the battles I’ve been fighting for so long or that I cried my eyes out over something last night, in private of course.
I almost feel compelled to put up this front, this mask, in a desperate attempt to protect myself. See, I’ve experienced much fair weather people in my life thus far and I’ve come to the point where I’ve realized that human beings (myself included) cannot generally be trusted.
I have realized that because I am so fragile and sensitive inside, I automatically put up a defensive exterior and refuse to show any vulnerability to most people, maybe for fear that I will be hurt again or because I have come to somehow associate it with weakness that must never be shown in public (maybe from since that time in my teens where an entire class at school chose to laugh at me, repeatedly because of my dark complexion and I determined within myself that they would NEVER see me cry) or because I have simply come to not trust most people, as truth be told, from my own personal experience, most people are not rooting for my success, don’t really care about what I’m going through and many secretly delight in my failure.
Yet, when before my Lord in prayer, I have realized that I am my true self. I don’t feel the need to put up a firm exterior or to guard anything. I am completely vulnerable before him, many times feeling free to break down in tears in prayer to him or while praising him in song (because he has been so good to me) and I don’t feel uncomfortable about doing it.
I have no problem coming to him as a child when praying and letting it all out before him, telling him things like: “I feel weak. I feel tired. I feel afraid. I feel like a colossal failure in life and I don’t know what to do. I am hurting about this or I feel angry about that. I don’t feel good enough. I am tired of rejection. I am tired of being abused verbally and psychologically and being treated so harshly. I’m tired of those who put up false pretences in public and pretend to be nice but then treat me badly and mercilessly in private. I feel like everybody has found their place in life but me. I know you haven’t forgotten me but sometimes I ‘feel’ forgotten. If you don’t help me, what ever will I do? Nobody else cares enough or is powerful enough to bring me out of my problems.”
I have no problem telling the Lord things I would never dream of telling another soul. I invite him into the innermost chambers of my heart and I respectfully pour out all I want to say, all that I am dealing with, all that bothers me, without prohibition, without feeling the need to hide anything from him.
When I mess up, I know he knows and so, shamefacedly, even if I try to put it off because I know he is displeased, I end up coming to him in repentance and telling him so, honestly, especially given that he does not allow me to have peace about it but brings conviction within.
I tell him, “I was wrong Lord. I sinned against you Lord. I was wicked. I did this or I did that.” I don’t sugarcoat what I’ve done or blame someone else for it or fish for excuses or hide behind a general confession that I have sinned but admit to him what specifically I have done wrong and where I have erred.
I tell the Lord, “I have no excuse for my behaviour. I don’t deserve your forgiveness or even to be alive but yet I ask for it in your mercy. I deserve all the pain I went through and all the ridicule because I disobeyed you and did foolishly.”
I even tell him, “I feel confused Lord. Please give me direction. Give me strength. I have no more of my own. Show me what to do and help me to do it.”
When it comes to making decisions in life, I also seek his counsel. I tell him, “I’m not going Lord unless you are leading. I am not going unless you go before me and with me. Unless you help me Lord, you know that I am so weak and pathetic, that I would fall flat on my face. You know I’m not bright Lord and I can’t get through this life without your help. If this is not a door that you want me to go through, then please block it. Only allow me to move forward in this direction if it is where you want me to be.”
Ultimately, my prayer to him has been, “Help me to be victorious Lord. Help me to overcome.”
This morning then, after having poured out my heart to the Lord again and in tears, I thought on how I am so completely different with the Lord, than I am around people, even my own extended and immediate family. I thought to myself: Why is it that I have no problem being naked and open before God, when I quickly clam up and run for cover with people?
I asked myself the question but I already knew the answer. It was because I felt something with the Lord that I don’t feel with typical human beings, who, sad to say, often disappoint, betray, ridicule, badmouth, gossip, enjoy being malicious, don’t really care about my success and are quick to think the very worst of others and write them off as dead. It is because when I’m in the Lord’s presence, I feel accepted (although I am so far from perfect), know that I’m loved, that he is genuinely concerned about the things that bother me and my life story, that he welcomes my coming and does not get fed up of hearing my voice and on the whole, WHEN I’M WITH HIM, I FEEL SAFE.
If I were to list the reasons why I feel perfectly comfortable being vulnerable and open with the Lord (although I am so guarded when it comes to people in general), I would say that, when I come to him in prayer, I come knowing:
- 1. That he is who he says he is and that he can be counted on to keep his Word. In short, he is of good character, genuine, faithful and reliable;
- 2. That he loves me and truly cares for me;
- 3. That he has my best interest at heart, even when he chastens me. He has no ulterior motive but is rooting for my success and therefore, my spiritual welfare;
- 4. That he exercises patience with me and shows me mercy, even when I don’t deserve it;
- 5. That he is not intolerant, irritated or fed up of me but instead, I am accepted by him and he welcomes my coming to him, every time. He actually takes the time to listen to me and is never in a hurry;
- 6. That he wants me to cast all my burdens and worries on him. They are not too burdensome for him. For his yoke is easy and his burden is light;
- 7. That he genuinely sees value in me, considers me as precious and having worth and values my relationship with him;
- 8. That he truly understands me and all that I’ve been through from childhood, to date. He knows me inside out, even better than I know myself. He therefore sees my heart and knows about all of my issues before I even come to him. All things are naked and open before him;
- 9. That he is kind to me. I’ve experienced much cruelty, harsh and bad treatment at the hands of people (which I realize contributes to my defensiveness and the need I feel to portray a tough exterior) but my Lord treats me with an unprecedented level of kindness, even beyond what I deserve;
- 10. That he can be trusted and confided in. He doesn’t go running around maliciously spreading gossip about what I’ve told him, to others, for the sake of entertainment and delighting in my valley moments, nor does he use what I’ve told him, to get back at me for something I’ve done. In his presence, I therefore know that I am safe;
- 11. That he can truly help me, no matter my issue, as he is all-powerful, all-wise, has all the answers to all of life’s problems and he genuinely wants to help;
- 12. That he always gives excellent and honest advice and guidance in life. He does not just tell me what I want to hear but what I need to because he specializes in the truth and if this means I need to be rebuked or told something that is difficult to receive, he does;
- 13. That he encourages, uplifts and upholds. I leave his presence feeling refreshed and strengthened;
- 14. That there is nothing that I could do that would make him abandon me. In his love, he may chasten me but he has no intention of forsaking me and will be with me through thick and thin;
- 15. That he is my heavenly Father. I therefore have relationship with him through his Son Jesus and have experienced walking intimately with him in the past, where he speaks to me directly from his Word or indirectly based on or about his Word. I have experienced hearing his voice and his hand of supernatural guidance, protection and provision in times gone past and so he has a track record of being there for me and of coming through for me and guiding me aright, even when nobody else was around to help me or wanted to but could not help me. I know that he is the same God now, as the one I have had such sweet fellowship with in the past and so I come boldly (yet humbly) to this throne of grace and I keep it real, generally avoiding empty routine phrases that have come to be associated with prayer and just talking with the Lord, from my heart;
- 16. That, as the one that breathed life into me and redeemed me, according to the counsel of his own will, he knows best about why he created me, my purpose and he has what I need to accomplish it.
(Written on 8th March, 2022)
Dear Reader, if you found the above Article to be interesting, informative, edifying or beneficial, you may also be interested in reading the following:
- Note 91 – ‘Who I Am…In Jesus Christ’
- Note 193 – ‘God Calls Me Hephzibah’
- Note 308 – ‘Fair Weather People’
Under the ‘BIBLE-BELIEVING Daughters’ page:
- Note 177 – ‘What A Love!’
- Note 182 – ‘How It Feels To Be On The Wanted List’