– Dana Smith, Women’s Equipping Coordinator for Wellspring Group
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” – John 10:10 ESV
One evening, my wife Cindy and I were walking our little MaltiPoo, Scout. As we walked down the street, I saw a big dog in a yard a few houses away that was not on a leash. I recognized that he was watching Scout. As we got closer, sure enough, the big dog came into the street toward us. All of a sudden, I made myself as large as I could and growled like a big bear as I moved toward the dog. The big dog immediately stopped in his tracks allowing his owners to run over and grab his collar and return to their yard.
As we continued on, Cindy began to laugh. Shame and rejection washed over me and I was taken back to my family den at the age of 8.
I’ve always had sensitive internal radar for personal injustice. On this particular day in my den at age 8 I felt treated unfairly for some reason. I remember running to my room, locking the door, and throwing a fit. I was crying and yelling “Nobody loves me! It’s not fair!” I even took crayons and paper and made signs all over the room that said, “Nobody loves me!”
After several minutes, my dad knocked on my door and called me out to the den with the rest of the family. As I sat there, surrounded by my parents, brother, and sister, he played back a recording he had made of me throwing the fit. Everyone burst out laughing at me.
With that experience and others, Evil branded me as “too much” and convinced me that my passion – what I see, experience and feel is NOT wanted. Therefore, I accepted as true and began to live from the message that I am broken and discardable. I did not belong, even in my own family. I remember thinking, If I died, no one in the family would miss me.
Through the Battle for the Heart and Battle for Your Marriage, I have learned a lot about the protective strategies I adopted throughout my life as a result of these beliefs – control, withdrawal, over-protection, getting it right. I have kept others at arm’s length so as not to risk rejection. I have taken on the role of “the only officer on duty” bearing the weight of protecting and providing for everyone around me shutting down my own heart in the process. I have also seen what these strategies have cost me. By not allowing myself to be vulnerable and embrace who God made me to be, I have missed being truly seen and known. I have missed the connection I deeply desire and sabotaged the ways I long to protect and care for those I love. God has graciously pursued me and stripped away those protective layers to heal my hurts with the truth of who he is and who I am in him.
So, as I stood in the middle of the street that night with Cindy and our maltipoo, I found myself feeling the same way I had felt all those years ago in the family den – I was faced with a choice. I could once again put on my armor of self-protection, stuff the pain and withdraw OR I could surrender my fear, shame, and pain to Jesus and vulnerably tell Cindy how her laughter impacted me. Knowing that my self-protection would only lead to resentment and distance, I chose to speak up and share with my wife the shame and rejection I was experiencing.
“Oh, NO, NO!” she exclaimed. “I am enjoying you! I am delighting in the glory of who you are. You are my and Scout’s protector! You are our big bear!”
“Taking it back”
I chose to receive her love and affirmation, and in doing so I experienced rest and connection with Cindy. She was an echo of God’s voice to me, reminding me of how he delights in who he made me to be. Oh what I would have missed had I not taken the risk to share my heart!
Evil has hunted me for as long as I can remember to tell me who I am and to keep me isolated. Through the fellowship of the Trinity, God’s word, and the safe people God has put in my life, the truth is sinking in and I am winning back my identity. I am learning that as I step into vulnerability – risking, asking, sharing from my heart – I experience being truly seen and am given rest and courage. This, in turn, allows me to more fully walk out of my glory and offer others life and rest found in Jesus!
One Step Further:
- How is evil crouching at your door to steal, kill, and destroy your identity?
- What lies are you believing about yourself, God, and others?
- In what ways is God inviting you to risk vulnerably so that Truth can penetrate your whole heart?