She looked at me directly, eyes cold, a hint of glee. “I can’t imagine you ever holding a baby,” she said. I had confided in my friend some of the deepest parts of me, including my fear about being a good mother and my worry that I wasn’t nurturing enough. (Now you know some of my secret fears).
So her comment stabbed at the depths of my fears. She did not see me as motherly. Whether intentional or not, the words stayed with me, played over and over again in my head and heart.
I built a fortress around myself, then. And I embittered. I held back from future friendships, believing that new friends would catalog my vulnerabilities and ridicule me about them later.
The problem came when I had this niggling feeling that something wasn’t right with my life. I would read words like “abundance” and “joy” and “companionship” and feel like I was missing out on something. Sure, I protected my heart, but I also prevented the joy that comes from knowing others and being known. In my self-protection, I cut off joy. Click to tweet this.
Here’s the thing. I’ve encountered enough bitter people to know I didn’t want to die that way–cut off from community, always viewing life through why-does-everyone-hurt-me glasses. I wanted to live joyfully in the present tense, not tethered to past wounds, able to find blessings in each day and embrace the people God placed in my pathway.
But once I closed off my heart, I truly had no idea how to live openhearted. Protection became an idol in my life–at any cost. I’d lived safe, but sad, for over a year.
Have you ever felt that way? Do you worry you’ll die bitter because the pain that others inflicted on you feels like an insurmountable pile of poop you have to crawl through? (Are you angry I just used the word “poop”?)
You’re not alone. Over the next few days I’ll unpack how you can find the openhearted life you’ve wanted. Stay tuned.