For a long time, I had trouble opening my heart to anyone. After years of continual heartbreak, I decided to close my heart off from others in an attempt to protect myself. Interestingly, this decision was not consciously chosen. It was something I did subconsciously. Whether purposefully or not, it affected me. It didn’t just affect my life, but those around me. I was a walking stone wall. I didn’t realize it then, but I was not only keeping people out of my personal space for protection’s sake, but I was also caging myself in away from love.
Fear of Possibilities
I said I trusted people, and I was doing okay at it to a degree. However, there was a limit to how close I let others 'in'. I was in defense for my heart. It felt better to be isolated than to ‘possibly’ get hurt. However, possibilities are not sure. They are happenings that we think might happen. It’s trying to protect against something that hasn’t even happened yet, and might never.
Fear of Love
When you get down to it, I was afraid of love. As I prayed about this issue, the Lord began to show me something that I knew but needed to be made aware of again. The things we struggle with in the natural, with other people, are oftentimes the same things we struggle with spiritually, with God. In my case, this was 100% true. I was not only afraid of opening my heart to others; I was also afraid of fully opening my heart to God. C.S. Lewis wrote,
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, and irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
Love is Costly
I find this to be true. Hiding the heart from hurt is hiding the heart from love. If we want to experience love, we must be vulnerable. One of the things I came to realize was that love is costly. We see this on the cross. Christ died for the sake of love so that sinners could know Him. It is because of His pain I can experience His love. As we are to walk like Christ, we must not think we can escape the pain that love brings at times.
And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:39
It is a matter of trust. We must trust that God will protect us and that He will pick us up and heal us if we do experience pain. As I mentioned above, I had to go to God, the One I had closed off my heart to first, and repent of the sin of unbelief. I didn’t trust Him as I said I did. I made myself the god of my heart- its protector. God should sit on the throne of our hearts. He alone should rule over us, and He does so in perfect wisdom and love.
The Need for Grace
We can’t make our hearts suddenly open if we have trained ourselves to keep it locked. However, we can go to God and ask that He would graciously help us be vulnerable before Him. When He helped me do this with Him, I felt a freedom. It is God’s will that we love others. If it is God’s will that we are to love others as ourselves, then it is also God’s will that we are loved by others. When we seek to keep people from the ability to love us, we are unknowingly disabling them to obey God’s second greatest commandment.
And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' Matthew 22:39
Repentance and faith are the reoccurring themes in the Christian life. It doesn’t just happen at conversion, it happens until we are glorified in heaven. Though it means dying to self, it opens us up to receiving more of the abundant life Jesus promised and the opportunity to glorify God.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10
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