That was the moment my rage kicked in. It was FIRE in my soul. But little did I know that in those moments another part of my hopeless heart came back to life.
The short story (because that’s all you get) is that someone accused me of making-up something about my dad so I could—as best as I can figure out—avoid them. And within that conversation, I was surprised by my rage. My anger wasn’t about if I was believed or not. Rather, it was about a tender part of my heart for my dad. An attack was made on a vulnerable part of me. Someone touched it in a way they shouldn’t have.
Internally I’d liken my reaction to if I saw someone beating a defenseless kitten, and in seeing it, I was in defense mode and wanted to beat the daylights out of the kitten beater.
My reaction caught me off guard.
OMGOSH, I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M GOING HERE
See, it’s been rocky between my Dad and I for a while now. There are a zillion little reasons why, none of which you need to know. And I suppose I let my heart get a little hard sometimes, mostly because I don’t want it hurt. This has often been my M.O. after being hurt. I let my heart get petrified. Because you can’t harm petrified wood.
You can’t chop it down. You can’t scar it. You can only admire it for how it’s become frozen in time. A stoic stone. A lifeless form of what it once was.
And sadly I was letting my heart become this way with my dad. Sure, I remember all the good times as a kid. The fond memories frozen in time. From being a bitty girl as he’d sing me to sleep— not with a lullaby—but rather with “Blessed Assurance.” Until my grown up days, when I’d left a really bad relationship, while shaking and shamefully telling my parents, he had deep concern and love for me. And the best way he knew how to show it, was to pour me a glass of wine, putting an arm around my shoulder and saying it would be okay. He was right.
Loving memories frozen in time.
THE DEEP FREEZE
But life got more complex and issue-ridden. No longer the child, I could see my dad with adult eyes. The ones that catch the faults and imperfections that we ALL have. And to make matters worse, circumstances happened between dad and I that made me feel like I needed to guard my heart. I wouldn’t be hurt again. Ever. And so the petrifying started more than a decade ago.
FAKING IT, THINKING NO ONE WILL NOTICE
I even tried to hide it. Mask it. But the truth was, a single incident catalyzed the transformation of my heart from vulnerable living wood to something that looked the same on the outside—but if you came close and examined it—it was becoming stone.
Of course, this goes against the type of life I want to live. And while I absolutely understand and validate the health and appropriate need for boundaries—even barriers—living with indifference was an entirely different matter. I’m not sure it’s ever okay to feel indifference. We’re even warned (Rev 3:15-16) to not be luke-warm, but rather one of the other extremes. So I’ve been working on my indifference, for a couple of years. Pushing myself to see if there was any hope for this petrified part of my heart.
Some things have worked, shown signs of hope, while others have backfired and made matters worse. Frustrating to say the least. And I don’t know of any process or chemical that reverses the damage done. But there is this, something that Ezekiel wrote around 575 BC. Ancient wisdom that gave me hope.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of STONE and give you a heart of FLESH.”
It is something that actually works. Yet I never know what to expect, or when to expect what’s going to work. Just like I can’t tell which way the Wind will blow, so it is with the moments that come to me that soften the hard parts.
Here in a heated conversation—where someone was accusing me of lying about my dad and a medical procedure he had—that in all honesty could have gone bad—I felt a part of my heart break open and a soft tender vulnerable new fresh part was revealed. I was fierce and protective about my dad. Everything swooshed on me at once. What would have happened if his heart stopped working? What if the procedure didn’t work? …and I realized how much I loved him. And dang, if God didn’t take this moment to show me something that was still alive in me. Maybe I didn’t have to live with indifference after all.
Perhaps a tender fresh shoot just appeared from a lump of petrified wood.
I’m constantly humbled at how grace works. And that there is always a portion for me, no matter how hopeless I seem. And above all, I’m amazed at how the Wind blows into places and does things that nothing else has the power to do.
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