Lent is upon us again.
Last night I made pancakes for two friends and we enjoyed each others’ company and enjoyed a tradition of what many do the night before Lent. We celebrated Fat Tuesday, the last night for forty days to indulge before entering a season of reflection, prayer, and fasting.
After my friends left, I asked God what he wanted me to learn during this Lenten season… what was I to sacrifice to bring me closer to him. Many things entered my mind, but nothing concrete hit me as I fell asleep.
When I woke up, however, I was overwhelmed by a clear request from the heart of God. Though much of my heart and life is open to God, I have held one room locked from him. The scariest room in the whole house that is my heart, my mind, my life. The room of a terrified, eight-year old girl that I’ve tried to protect all my life. The age when I recoiled slowly inside myself, when I truly believe I lost the road map to what it truly means to be a woman… losing the desire to be feminine, the “weaker” vessel, when I made myself tough and self-reliant.
I don’t hear God in clear voice or tones, but there it was: Let me in her room. Let me have the keys to that room.
Long story short, though the adult me has found healing, I’ve protected the child inside me from having to deal with the abuse. While I’ve known that deep down somewhere… I just never could acknowledge it.
I began to cry and tried to get on with the tasks at hand – getting up, eating breakfast, going to work. I kept crying. I was so overwhelmed. I sat down at my table and opened Psalm 27 in The Message.
1 Light, space, zest— that’s God!
So, with him on my side I’m fearless,
afraid of no one and nothing.
It was so on at that point.
More crying. I begged God for mercy. I don’t even know where the keys to that room are, God. That part of me can’t be fixed. It’s broken forever. Then I realized I’ve even hidden her away from myself.
I’ve done so much soul-searching lately and I blame/credit/acknowledge that’s because I have this new set of little brothers (which is odd to say because they’re both so dang tall) who, like the moon, soak God’s light up like they can’t get enough and reflect the light back and illuminate more than they know. Both these guys approach challenges in different ways, but their God is big and both are wise beyond their years. They have each taught me more in such a short time than I could possibly teach them in a lifetime. Fun thing is they really don’t know it and I can picture both faces if I actually said all this to them. Above all, they make me laugh and smile, which are gifts I cherish in friends.
One brother has been a steadfast rudder in my life. He isn’t predictable by any means, but I know exactly what to expect from him. He speaks softly, but the weight of his words often hits me between the eyes with some force. He has such a peaceful soul, and has been so tolerant and understanding and willing to put up with me being all over the map sometimes. He gets excited about my dreams and discoveries. He is a gentle man, a seeker of God’s heart who weighs his weighty words and finds something good to say about everybody and everything or he won’t say much at all. He’s someone I want to be like when I grow up.
The other brother, whom I only recently connected with, but feel like I’ve known forever, could talk about God all day long… He’s the one who asks me all these soul-searching questions (and I’m like, do you even know me?!) that I’ve actually let myself think about and even dare to answer. When he commits to someone or some thing, he is ALL in. He ponders deeply, and is my complex, but transparent (to me) onion. Sometimes I am ashamed to be around both of them because of how much they truly and deeply love God with a passion I wish I could feel, but that the walls I protect myself with keep me from feeling most of the time.
Oh, those walls, those shields… I know what they are. I’ve lived with them for 32 years. The extra weight of protection. The sarcasm. The toughness. The “at arm’s length.” The list is long. What I do know is that these walls keep me closed to love and keep me from truly pursuing my womanhood fully.
Yes, I am a woman. Yes, I do many feminine things, but I never have embraced my femininity. To embrace that part of myself, I have to let go of some fears and lies. I have to unfold and let that 8 year old girl, still innocent, who loved flowers and kittens and dolls and dresses grow up outside that room that I’ve protected her in and let her experience life out here, come what may.
Let me in her room. Let me have the keys to that room.
I didn’t even argue this time, because… it’s time. Psalm 27 unfolded in front of me and ended with:
13-14 I’m sure now I’ll see God’s goodness
in the exuberant earth.
Stay with God!
Take heart. Don’t quit.
I’ll say it again:
Stay with God.
Let me in her room. Let me have the keys to that room.
So tonight, I asked God to show me where I’d hidden the keys, and then I handed them over. The door creaked open and I can’t describe what I feel right now. Just know this is the scariest thing I’ve ever done because it’s from the scariest place I’ve ever been.
I’m still not certain what any of this means for the next forty days. Lest you think I will start wearing lace and hot pink… you would be mistaken. I don’t know that this is what that is about. What I do know is that as these walls fall down, I will know God more intimately than I ever have before, because he has the all-access pass now. That’s what I desire most, is to be everything he created me to be, and that, includes the role of woman. Whatever that means.
What I have discovered by re-examining the past few weeks, though, is that I find myself discovering more what it means to be a woman by being book-ended by two people who know how to be godly men. God has so used that and set me up to be in this place of vulnerability and change, well guarded.
As the walls fall down, the more I am able to freely give of myself and God is using that in creative ways, and I look forward to that over the next forty days as well.
I go to sleep tonight so grateful, so encouraged, so hopeful, knowing God is faithful and with him all things are possible.
Buckle up, y’all. It’s going to be an interesting ride.