A Prison Cell

prison cell

When something takes place in your life that really hurts you in the core of your heart, it can be devastating. You feel trapped in the moment, stuck in the pain.  You try to move past it.  You try to let go of it again and again and wonder why it still lingers, like a penetrating ache in your chest.

You realize the pain has walled you in, becoming a prison cell. At first you find comfort here:  the walls protect you from being hurt again.  They keep people away.  But soon you learn you’re only free to walk around in the confined space, reliving the conversations, the crushing moments, and the devastating blows to your spirit.  You relive each failure in your mind, the guilt and shame wrapping itself around you like the cold, musty air in your cell. And you can’t see anything new, nothing to hope for because the one window is boarded up, leaving only a crack of sunlight to shine through; that sliver of light hurts because you know the world is moving on without you.

You hear muffled sounds of laughter, joy. It stings because you can’t remember the last time you laughed a genuine laugh that welled up from within and spilled out; not the laugh you force because no one knows where you really are and you don’t know how to ask for help.

But maybe you finally do ask for help because you’re so tired of scratching the walls, of trying to dig your way out. You’re lying on the floor, exhausted from picking yourself up.  You cry out from your prison cell only to hear silence from beyond the bars.  You stare and wait.  But no one reaches in.

You fall to your face and beg God to help. You’re too tired to fight the darkness, the depression, alone.  The burden is too heavy to hold any longer.  A part of you breaks open and spills onto the floor.  You can’t do this alone, not this one.  Not this time.

You need God now more than ever and you tell Him. And when you admit it, when you speak it out loud, God holds you and whispers to your heart, “Let Me have it.”

Your first reaction is anger. You want to yell at God, argue with Him that you have already done that.  You’ve already given Him the entire situation again and again and He should know.

But He gently whispers, oh so gently to your wounded spirit, “Let Me have what’s in your hand.”

You notice your hand, the one you weren’t using to try and claw your way out, is tightened into a fist. And when you finally relax it, finally open it, you find a key.

You drop the key into God’s hand knowing you can trust Him and that He will protect you. As He unlocks the door and carries you out and into the light of a new day, you thank Him for rescuing you.  And you continue to rest in His arms as He holds you close and carries you forward.

“O Lord, I have come to you for protection; don’t let me be disgraced. Save me and rescue me, for you do what is right.  Turn your ear to listen to me, and set me free.”  (Psalm 71: 1-2 NLT.)

The Empty Chair

empty-chair

A writing teacher once taught that to create a fictional character you have to peel away the layers to get to the heart of the person. Like an onion.  Isn’t that how we are as real human beings?

We have a layer we show to the world. You know, the face you show in a busy grocery store or at a crowded department store.  The one that says, “I may nod at you or smile, but don’t talk to me.  I’m in a hurry.”  We have another layer we show to acquaintances, those we see from time to time and maybe ask, “How are you?” as we rush in the opposite direction hoping they don’t really want to talk.  Another layer we reserve for family and friends.  We let them in but only so far as to share what we’re comfortable sharing, but we hold back the rest because it’s guarded.  It’s too personal, too fragile to let anyone see.   It’s like this tiny room we have inside of us that we keep hidden because rejection of any kind here would be nothing short of annihilation.  So we quietly lock the door and pretend we don’t hear if someone knocks.

But God gave you that tiny room.  He is very aware of its location and everything inside.  Maybe that scares you because you’ve stashed some big-time mistakes under the floorboard or crumbled up a few regrets and tossed them in the corner, and you’re afraid He’s just going to drop by sometime.  Or perhaps you think it’s such a mess in there, you think you’ve really screwed everything up, and God wouldn’t dare step inside because it’s so NOT perfect.

You couldn’t be more wrong.  First, He will never come in uninvited.  Never.  He is so polite He always waits for an invitation.  And second, He designed that room.  And maybe you haven’t realized it yet, but it came furnished with two chairs.  One for you.  One for Him.

So when you’re exhausted and you come here to escape the world and all that’s wearing you down, not only do you get to rest, but you can hang out with God here. That’s what He wants, to take a seat on that empty chair and spend time with you.  Don’t worry about the mess.  Just unlock the door and let Him into that room, into that heart of yours.  Listen.  He’s knocking…and waiting for you to answer.

“Look at me. I stand at the door.  I knock.  If you hear me call and open the door, I’ll come right in and sit down to supper with you.”  (Revelation 3:20 The Message.)