Tonight I get to write from a place of complete peace. My heart is full of all good things, yet I have an emotional exhaustion that is lingering. This exhaustion is one of growth and experience. This weekend was spent with 7 wonderful sisters in Christ. I walked away knowing that this was an anchor moment. It was an experience that I will be blessed from for a long time to come. God intervened in the middle of a funk where I wanted to isolate and withdraw and led me away from the world and drew me back to him. I agreed to go thinking it would be nice to just get away and have some fun and meet new people. Little did I know God was hard at work coordinating a glimpse of how he intended relationship to look.
I want to write about this while it is all still fresh and my God tank has been blessed and is overflowing with an abundance of love. The biggest blessing was the thing I feared the most. Being in a position of sharing my story. It is one thing to write it out and to share it on here. People can accept or reject my story without me knowing. Sitting face to face with 7 women and sharing puts me in a place of pure vulnerability where reactions can be seen and felt. There could be acceptance and grace, but there could be rejection and hurt. The topic that was discussed was shame. As soon as I was listening, I felt my walls building, myself withdrawing, and felt anxious about Saturday. So anxious, I didn’t sleep much at all Friday night. I didn’t realize how much shame I was actually carrying with me. My head knew the truth that I was free and redeemed, but my heart was closed and hardened.
Saturday there a came a point where each had an opportunity to share about how we interact with God and people through the illustration of a castle. So, who do you let in your castle? What kind of barriers are there? What does it look like? When it came time to share my heart was racing and I was sitting, I was able to share some of it with ease. That I let people in through the front door, they can be in my foyer, it is decorated nicely and meant to be welcoming. But, just because someone makes it into my castle it doesn’t mean they get to go anywhere else. If someone wants to see the joy and the triumphs I will mostly share it, all they have to do is show an interest and ask. But then there is this other side of my castle, it is hidden behind a bookcase, there is a knight guarding it and has no windows. It is the side of my box room, where I have all the things that are too much to deal with, that I don’t want to deal with stored, it is the side of my dungeon where I run when I feel the desire to shrink back to what I know. Even if it is not healthy there is a certain comfort of going down to the dungeon. I know what is in the dungeon, there is one way in and out, it is guarded, and it is familiar. It feel deceivingly safe, and it is a place that almost no one gets to go with me.
In sharing that is where it became hard. I awkwardly fumbled through to speak and share that I had been raped 2 years ago, that when I was little a great uncle had molested me. I shared some of my struggle of the struggle of going down to the dungeon because it was safe even though I knew better. I sat there not knowing how I was going to be received, feeling as though I was taking my heart out and laying it out without any walls or protections. Those moments were filled with fear and anxiety. But then it was done. I had shared some of my story and it was out there for people to accept or reject. I was embraced with an amazing amount of grace, acceptance, and protection.
The silence was broken by tears from my dear friend saying that she was proud of me, that she couldn’t believe how far I had come in 2 years. That touched my heart in a deep way, to hear those words and see the sincerity and love pouring out. It was then filled with each of the other women sharing how their hearts broke, how they wanted to protect me, that they saw the beauty in me. They each took my heart and gently embraced each piece of it, the good parts and the bad. Never once was there judgement. They spoke only truth. Despite my struggles and temptations to go and stay in my dungeon they still loved me. They wanted to be there for me. This was something I never would have thought could happen. I never thought that I could share my story with the struggles to a group of people, some of whom I had just met and be accepted. I had convinced myself that there was too much shame, that I would not be loved, that people could say nice things, but wouldn’t react with such warmth and protection. The enemy had filled my head with those lies. This experience showed me how in the right setting it is just that, a lie.
I am amazed and in awe of the experience this weekend. It was a freeing empowering experience. For that I say thank you to my sisters in Christ for being the warm embrace that Christ provides. Thank you for empowering me to struggle and share a piece of my heart and be fully accepted. Thank you for being willing to fight for me.