|copyright: Karen Larsen photography
I have so many thoughts swirling around in my head right now that I don’t even know where to start. It seems fitting, probably, that for the sake of our discussion today, I should begin with this quote:
“The heart is a tender place. It is sensitive to many influences, both positive and negative. It can be hurt by others. It can be deadened by sin. It can be softened by love. Early in our lives, we learn to guard our hearts. It is like we erect a fence around our hearts with a gate in it. No one can enter that gate unless we allow him or her to.
“In some cases the fence we erect around our hearts could be likened to a small picket fence with a Welcome sign on the gate. Other hearts have been so hurt or so deadened by sin that they have an eight-foot (2.5-m) chain-link fence topped with razor wire around them. The gate is padlocked and has a large No Trespassing sign on it. …
“… The condition of our hearts directly affects our sensitivity to spiritual things. Let us make it a part of our everyday striving to open our hearts to the Spirit. Since we are the guardians of our hearts, we can choose to do so” (Gerald N. Lund, “Opening Our Hearts,” Ensign
May 2008, 33, 34).
I relate to this quote is ways I can scarcely venture to enumerate! Part of my heart has had that small picket fence with the welcome sign on it. Then about four miles into it, I have that other fence, erected with eight foot walls, razor wire and the no trespassing sign.
It has been a crazy journey over years of time, as the Lord has tried to teach me about the condition of my heart and the necessity of taking down the razor wire, opening up that second gate and dismantling the fence. I have fought Him most of the way, because someone might get in and mess up that deepest, most sacred, and tender place in my heart…..of myself.
I have finally come to recognize that the place I have walled up, with a no trespassing sign, is the most beautiful part of me. I keep it hidden because people have hurt me in ways that I wasn’t aware of and I just declared, early on…..No more! No one else is getting in. Then no one else can hurt me like that!
I have often assumed it was my parents divorce that did that to me. That was my first conscious memory of stuffing my feelings and sadness into a box and trying to keep it there and keep the lid on it. I knew I would eventually get to the box, but it seemed so much easier to just keep putting more pain and sadness in the box and deal with it later. There was always later, right? I would have time. As more and more sadness got stuffed in there, I had trouble keeping the lid on the box. Food became the answer. If I ate enough food (carbs and sugar and chocolate, oh my gosh, chocolate!!), then I could keep from feeling the things that were leaking out of the box. It was getting full in there, you know?
So I kept at it. More stuff in the box, more food to keep it closed. And if I kept myself too busy, then I could also distract myself from what was in the box and what I was truly feeling.
Over the years, I have recognized the box, and the fences or walls as I referred to them. I recognized I had some control over the walls, not completely, but I could sense that sometimes they were up and sometimes they were down. Sometimes I could wish they were down and they would magically go down. Sometimes people would say or do something to me or my kids, and the walls would go right back up, or I would add a new layer of razor wire. Other times, I just put people on a black list, indicating they would not ever be able to enter, not in a million years.
My Father in Heaven has been so good to me in teaching me about all of this stuff about me. My learning has come in so many areas: scriptures, teachings of the prophets, conversations with friends, blog posts of others, movies, and recently, a fictional book series. Yes I am serious! That is the last place I would expect to learn something about myself. But it happened.
A friend of mine (a librarian, hahahaha!) was reading the series and she and I have had more than a few conversations about our hearts. She asked me if I had read it or would be willing to read it. We are going on a fast weekend getaway together soon and she wanted to discuss it with me, so would I read it. Sure! Not a problem.
I read the series.
I am going to purchase that series and keep it around so that I can read it often!!! The entire series mirrored my personal experiences, except that the main character is a famous rock star….that part doesn’t match my life. The first book had so many similarities that I had to put it down and cry and cry and cry. Through that book, I sought out more revelations from the Lord to help me see how those things I was reading related to me and why they were so painful for me emotionally. I learned new stuff about myself! By the time I read the third book, I understood why I had created the box and the fence and how it was affecting my relationships (specifically my marriage). It has been a crazy week this week. The emotional roller-coaster has been exhilarating and exhausting.
Before I read the series, I got sick. I never get sick for more than a day. But I was sick and down for five days. I didn’t have enough energy to do anything but read a book and I just happened to have this book series sitting in front of me. Don’t even try to tell me that Heavenly Father doesn’t have a sense of humor. He knew that I would ‘get around to it’ eventually, but He wanted me to do it now. So He created or allowed the circumstances so that would be the course of my agency….to pick up the book and get going.
I can probably tell you more about it later. I need to go and teach my seminary kids about the conditions of their hearts….that quote from above? In today’s lesson. No joke. As we do what He asks, when He asks, the pieces and meanings of our lives will come together. They do for me, and they will for you!
Have a great day!! 😎 We’ll talk more later!