The hot sting of the gravel made my eyes water as I pulled each embedded rock from my knee. It was a hot summer day and as a seven year old, I scrambled to find bandages to cover up the fresh wound from my fall before anyone found me. All the while, I repeated the familiar script: Don’t you dare cry, Alisha. You don’t want to be called a baby or drama queen or sissy again. You must be strong and tough. Always.
With each fall, literally and figuratively, the past twenty-seven years of my life, the power of these words have carried more and more weight. Not only did they become part of me, but truly my heartbeat. I couldn’t imagine anything different, especially as being “strong” for myself, in addition to those around me, was a coping tool I’ve often relied on for survival. Yet, I’m beginning to see it has caused the true me to be stifled.
These past few weeks, the Lord has been taking me back to see and sit with “little me”. Pain and dysregulation quickly accompanied this process. Yet underneath all the muck and masks, I found a beautiful, innocent little girl with a deep and sensitive spirit.
The more time I spent immersed in my story and this little girl, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Where is she, now?”
Not long after, the Lord brought Ezekiel 36 to the forefront of my mind. Verse 26 says,
This verse was not foreign, although the image of a stone immediately caught my attention. I saw deeper than the words to contrast the characteristics of both hearts. And before I could process or deny what was bubbling up from within, my reality escaped from my lips.
“That stone heart is mine”.
And so I grieved. Not only for this awakening, but for the numb and buried “little me”.
With each tear, I grasped more fully that my heart had hardened for valid reasons. Still, as I had grown dull, so much life and love was lost. It had always felt like part of me was missing. But probably because I wasn’t truly living.
What about you? Is your heart screaming, “ME TOO”? If so, what should we do?
How do we turn our hearts of stone to flesh?
- First of all, RECOGNITION is huge. The Lord says in 1st John 1:9,
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
- Therefore, I have found solace in meeting Him at the foot of the cross. Whether it is our first time or seventy-seventh, we are not alone, nor are we too far gone.
- In this posture of surrender, may we also ask the Lord to illuminate all the dark places in our life. Yes, even all in the nooks and crannies you’ve tried to hide. We must expose everything and anything that is not of Him. Psalm 139 verses 23 and 24 say,
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
- It is uncomfortable, but it is so powerful when you allow Him to bring all into the light. Once we can see reality for what it is, we can ask for forgiveness and move forward, no longer bound by guilt or shame.
2. Still, we cannot do this on our own. So, the next step of YIELDING TO HIS SOFTENING is crucial.
- It is not something that happens overnight, nor a one time event to check off our to do list. It must become part of our daily routine as we are refined to look more like Jesus.
- I know for me this step of obedience has made my heart feel like it is raw. Exposed. Especially as my emotions now seem to spill effortlessly. It is also messy as the Lord continues to reveal things I’d rather not see. The holes within my “bravery”. Still, I know His discipline is because He loves me and longs to set me free.
- No longer do I have to bite my tongue or hold it in, act tough or be afraid of disappointment. He created me and my heart and emotions to begin with. So, I can bring ALL to Him. I am not too much or too broken. And my sensitivity is not an accident, nor a curse. Rather, it is a GIFT. And even though it was once stolen, it has been returned, not only for me, but for our world.
3. So once we look in the mirror and deal with our own hearts, we then see the world with fresh eyes and can INVITE others into this freedom and fire.
- Our transformation wasn’t meant to be kept hidden. The Lord desires that the things and people that stir His heart, including the lost, would ignite our hands and feet to action.
While these steps are challenging, they are essential if we are to experience the depth of relationship God offers to us with Him, His Son, and Spirit.
So I pray today that even if you are squirming in your seat, may you not be afraid to dive deep and ask the tough questions for everything flows from our hearts (Proverbs 4:23). Therefore, it is not a matter we can take lightly.
Please know, you are not alone. I am praying for you as you process and do a “heart check”, too.
As always, if you have questions or need a listening ear, please feel free to reach out by email firstname.lastname@example.org, comment below, or find me on social media at Mess 2 Masterpiece.
Much love, Alisha