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Posts Tagged ‘Lydia’

Acts 16:14b
… The Lord opened her [Lydia] heart to respond to Paul’s message.

Revelation… truth… understanding… none of these can happen without an open heart and it is God who makes this happen. It’s not that we can’t open our own hearts, we can. Unfortunately, we usually don’t realize how closed off we really are. We assume our hearts are open… after all, what does a closed heart even look like?

I imagine a closed heart like a fortress, like the keep of a castle, the last line of defense… it is the stronghold. The heart can be like an entire castle for our normal activities and relationships; we open and close the drawbridge, we let people and ideas come in and out. But the stronghold is not open to just anyone. And sometimes, no one is allowed inside at all. And if we have collected assumptions, secrets, memories, untruths, misconceptions, pain, and prejudices, they are stored in there to keep them “safe.” If the storage areas are full, some of this stuff will pour out through the window slits and cracks and affect our daily lives. But generally, we manage to keep all that stuff inside. It is, after all, way too dangerous to let anyone inside, just opening the door may let too much out.

When I hit forty, my stronghold was so full that it was not just leaking out, it was spewing out periodically like a volcano. I often felt like I would explode, literally. I would sob uncontrollably. I would walk outside in some lonely place and just scream and scream until my throat was raw. My thoughts were jumbled up. I was like a lone survivor in an ocean trying to hold on to a life boat, but with no clue how to get in. I really thought I was going crazy.

I am grateful for the counselors, pastors, and friends who held me up during this difficult time of my life. The very thing I feared the most was the very thing I needed to do: open the keep… open the stronghold. Finally, I asked Jesus to do this work. I could not. When the door finally opened, it was not pretty. Eventually, equilibrium was achieved.

And after awhile, I thought the work was done. The proof was in my fresh energy and sense of renewal. It was during these healing years that we adopted our children, moved into a different house, changed jobs, I got a second master’s degree, I met new people and allowed new ideas to filter in.

But what was considered new then has become somewhat entrenched in my stronghold again. It is not as full as before. It is not as volatile. But I am aware that the door of my heart/my stronghold has been swinging shut more than I would like. And so, I ask my God this day, to keep my heart open. Give me courage to embrace people… all different kinds of people… authentically. Give me faith that you will sift ideas for me. Give me revelation knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. Give me trust that Jesus will always be my doorkeeper.

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