Heart Wide Open

Pink Cactus-1

Freedom was the word I chose as mine for 2014.

I prayed on it. I dreamed about it. I wrote down titles to twelve blog posts that I could write on the subject.

It’s a wonderful word, isn’t it?

Freedom.

The anthem of America, William Wallace, and every person who traded the sharp, digging claws of sin for the soothing balm of grace.

Freedom is packed with promise and hope. It smacks down shame. It rusts the chains wielded by emotional bullies like guilt, fear and regret. It testifies to healing … but it really wasn’t mine in 2014.

I selected the word, but I didn’t embrace it. Honestly … I didn’t even reach a finger toward true freedom. Last year, I lived another word instead: Closed.

A cocktail of loss, doubt, and depression dizzied me. Agitation and procrastination ruled my heart and mind. Exploring my true identity in Christ, which was my goal of the year, required facing parts of myself that I didn’t want to see. So I closed my eyes.

Even though cultivating community is my passion, investing in new relationships after moving to city number 10 in a span of 14 years, scared me. I felt too worn … too broken … too needy to bring the energy necessary to create meaningful friendships. So I didn’t try. I closed literal and metaphorical doors.

I closed even more last year: my creative side, my willingness to be silly and play with my kids, my sense of adventure … my Bible. I kept them all shut tight more often than I cracked them open. It was as though instead of stepping into a new year, I fell into portal that whisked me back to the fragile, frightened girl I was years ago.

In every direction I looked I saw piles of unhealthy patterns I either helped create or allowed.

That’s not to say I spent the year in bed, hopeless and without a second of laughter. There were beautiful moments in 2014, but I didn’t breathe them in like I should have. I didn’t permit them the power they deserved as I would have if I had allowed myself the freedom to enjoy the blessing  without bracing myself for a curse.

On the 363rd day of 2014, I wondered if I should give the “Word of the Year” decree another go. My initial answer to that question was a firm “NO!” I’d just fail. Then I thought about it some more and decided that I should give freedom another chance. But freedom doesn’t feel like the right word for me this year. Even though as a child of God and a follower of Christ, freedom belongs to me and will be a part of my life … there is another word I need to dwell in this next spin around the sun: Open.

This is the year for light to shine truth on all the shattered spaces within me that I shuttered instead of tended. Now is the time for me to hand my raw, ravaged heart to Jesus for examining, cleaning, molding and strengthening.

Open both scares and excites me.

Open is vast and messy and unfastened. It’s overflowing with paradox and possibilities; because being open allows you to pour yourself out while you’re being filled up. Open leaves me vulnerable and fertile for change. It’s the open places in ourselves where hope roots and thrives.

I don’t know what specific events will occur in 2015, but I know the basics. Elation and agony will both show up here and there. They might even mingle. There will be belly laughs and gut-wrenching sobs … wins and losses … waves that welcome and those that say goodbye.

And I am determined to face each circumstance with a heart wide open. Ready to learn. Ready to teach. Ready to grow. Ready to feel free.

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