It’s enough work to stay protected from a hostile world, and let’s not even get into the ways you need to protect yourself from people that are supposed to love you. That’s getting under the skin. That might just dig at something too personal, and private.
In the various people I have had the chance to spend enough time with to touch that third rail of the personal and private, I have noticed that each and every one has a degree of protection against getting too close. In the Midwest the protection is a disciplined silence or niceness that would never let you get that close to those fence lines of the heart. In New Zealand, it was nice beyond measure, with a touch of cynicism. In the South, the fence lines of the heart just aren’t discussed. Period. You just don’t.
For me the fence lines have a lot to do with growing up with an alcoholic. Nothing was reliable and promises were as good as the paper they were written on. So, to keep from getting hurt, from feeling the tear of that flesh that is a soul, I learned to protect myself, to expect less, to make back-up plans. We all do what we can survive, to make it through. But it doesn’t mean I don’t make it through without getting hurt, without scars, or bent versions of what it means to trust, to believe. Like David Wilcox once sang, “Thought they’d pass right through me, that I had no scars to hide. But now I open up and try to love and find they’re still inside.”
For the past few weeks, God has been showing the blue print of my defenses. He has shown how I engage in a relationship with him as I would with an alcoholic; how I make back-up plans, how even though I long to believe the impossible is a reality, I never want to expect too much; how I say what I think he wants to hear if it means he won’t come beyond those lines I have established. It’s all there in the blue print I learned to create as a boy, that I hold close so know one can see my weakness in the defenses.
It’s worked… until lately.
From Donne’s “batter my heart,” to Lewis’ “intolerable compliment,” God knows how to use words too. He knows how to use them to penetrate defenses that have been 30 years in the making. He knows how to unhinge the keystones that keep my walls together.
As much as it scares, as much as it might hurt, I welcome the disintegration of those defenses. I not only hear the beckoning of his voice to come out of my castle that is far too small, I invite him to come in and rewire how I understand words. Words like Trust, Promise;
Words like protection, safety.
There is his overwhelming respectability of me and who I am that won’t cross the lines completely until I will have him. He tugs on the barbed wire; he lobs bricks through my windows with notes attached. Enough tugs and bricks and things start to weaken. I start to weaken.
And then I no longer want to be protected from what I want. Come and get me as I crawl out from the remains of these behaviors that I have adopted and adapted to cope and endure. I know this much: I wasn’t made to simply cope, to simply endure.
All this time later, guess who gets to learn anew what it is to be a son of this kind of Father?