heart of stone and flesh“For all I know, you just made-up that stuff about your Dad and his heart procedure.”

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.

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.

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.

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.
Sherry Meneley Soiled Wings ©2009-2012 Sherry Meneley All Rights Reserved soiled wings create•heART create heart creativity life coach coaching art journal journaling

12 thoughts on “Petrified

  1. I have found, much to my surprise, that there are places in my heart which can only be opened through a passageway of anger, when I just stop caring about being good or right. And those places are usually the ones I love the most. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Wow…you just get it! While never being allowed to express emotions learning that they are God given and must be released is new for me. I just love the petrified rock analogy; as sadly I know that’s what my heart had become. My story is long and ugly (as are most), I finally get that you can’t rip down the wall and dump everything on one person but rather chip away and slowly gain trust. The only one who can take it all because he already knows, is God. Emotions are uncomfortable and foreign territory for me and until very recently I was throwing an emotional tantrum trying to avoid letting them out. Tough lessons learned, but the point is that I am finally learning. Thank you for sharing your heart time and time again. What a blessing to us all.

  3. And again you speaks words of life! Thank you for your honesty and integrity.
    The petrified wood analogy is so appropriate. And so true. And yes, God can break into those petrified spaces and breathe new life. Hallelujah!
    And one final word of Grace… those petrified moments… those wounds and scars that feel like they maim and disfigure… when we bring those to God, he doesn’t cut them out and throw them away like so much waste and garbage… No, he transforms them into something beautiful and life-giving:

    The Lord says, “I will give you back what you lost
    to the swarming locusts, the hopping locusts,
    the stripping locusts, and the cutting locusts. (Joel 2:25)

    Thank you Sherry… You are a great companion on this journey of discovery!

    • Thanks Jer – and you are so 103% right –> “God…doesn’t cut them out and throw them away like so much waste and garbage… No, he transforms them into something beautiful and life-giving” <—so true

    • Thanks Christine. I know, I know how easy it is to think “indifference” is okay…and it feels safer. And how to feel anything thing else means we have to FEEL – be it the good, the bad, or the ugly.

  4. You spoke of boundaries and barriers and I couldn’t help but think in the writing of the “slice of your life” you shared with us that you illustrated that very principle. You shared about the incident but kept covered appropriately what should remain private.

    I see the beauty in weaving both telling and holding back… finding the balance.

    I also – like others – liked the petrified wood analogy and especially the words of wisdom from that ancient Ezekiel. What a perfect fit. As a little girl my dad had a piece of petrified wood and I would get it out and look at it… hold it. It is surprisingly cold which fits into your analogy… but I pictured it and remembered it as I read your post.

    Earlier today I was reading quotes on beauty and healing and found this one:

    “We are all wounded. But wounds are necessary for his healing light to enter into our beings.”
    ― Bo Sanchez

    It is a very interesting lesson to learn. I am so glad you discovered this part of your heart before Father’s Day this weekend. (-:

  5. Ouch! I don’t think I like this post very much. Ya’ know? Oh, yah, it is so well written as always, but ooh, too hard. I have just been trying on the indifference to see if it was going to work… And now it seems like I’m not going to be able to settle in there. Dang!

    I guess I’m going to have to find some time for pondering & praying.
    Thanks a lot!

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