There’s this one movie called Serenity. It’s a Joss Whedon film, and one of my favorites. The series and film focuses heavily on a character named River – a teenaged girl who is, admittedly, a little bit crazy. Damaged. She is strong and fierce and independent and has been transformed into a deadly weapon by the government. But she is also kind and brilliant and funny and surprisingly gentle in so many ways – because she is, after all, a young girl. And all the science-fiction brain experiments in the world can’t destroy the heart of a person. At least, that’s what I believe. Apparently, so does Joss Whedon.
Anyway. In the film, there is one point when River collapses, both falling down and falling apart inside. And she pleads, whispering, “God, make me a stone.” Joss Whedon isn’t exactly a believer (exactly, he’s an atheist), and one could argue that River is not a believer either, though she has been exposed to God through a relationship with a member of the clergy, Shepherd Book. But when River pleads with God to make her a stone, she means it. She wants to be a stone. Hard, unmoving, unfeeling, unreachable. When her world has devolved into chaos and noise and destruction and confusion, and when she can no longer make sense of what is real and what is not, she turns to her last resort, to the God who she has logicked away to the far edges of the universe, and begs Him to take everything away.
A week and a half ago, I asked God to make me a stone. I asked Him to harden my heart, to make me feel less. When my own world felt like too much, when everything looked so real and so fake, when I was finally convinced that I was too soft – that’s when I prayed for God to pour the concrete, set me in the sun, and forget me.
If you know me well, you know that my heart lives on my sleeve. Goodness, if you read this blog at all you’ll realize it. I give my heart to people easily, but not carelessly. I’m intentional. If you know me, it’s because I decided to show my heart to you. With some people, I remain guarded, pouring myself out gradually. With a few, I am vulnerable almost, some might say, to a fault. If that’s possible. I give, because I want to be known. I long to be known. There have been times when the place my heart resides ends up hurting me. But there have also been many times when I have been blessed because I choose to be vulnerable. I have been trusted in return, allowed to know and love other people. It is risky. Yeah. But I have never regretted taking the risk. Even when it hurt.
But when I plead with God to make me a stone, I also cursed my soft, stitched-to-the-sleeve heart. That heart I valued so much. The one that had encouraged people I love and had made me different. I have thanked God for my easily-moved, easily-loving heart. I have called it a blessing. A gift. And now I was condemning it, asking for it to be taken away. Because feeling anything can be really, really hard. Caring can be painful. Seeing the hurting, dying world can be awful. Maybe I feel too much, I thought. Maybe I care too much. Maybe I love too much. What if the person I thought I was – kind, responsive, loving – wasn’t me at all? I felt already like a brick fortress, as if there was some barrier in me that separated two Courtneys: a real one and an intruder. But which was which? I had become a contradiction in my own head.
Amidst my pleas, though, was His voice. It is always there. And this time I couldn’t ignore it. I felt broken. I wasn’t sure who I was. But I was sure of Him.
Calm. You cannot be a stone. You are My stitched-to-the-sleeve heart.
So, sitting in what I thought was the rubble of myself, I listened to God tell me who I was.
Sinful – yes. Broken – yes. Angry – yes. Confused – yes. Afraid – yes. Impatient – yes. A little stony – yes. A little lost – yes.
Passionate – yes. Gentle – yes. Kind – yes. Loving – yes. Hopeful – yes. Honest – yes. Real – yes.
I am so thankful for a God who does not give me what I want, especially when He has created me for more than what I believe I can be. This year, as I begin my third year of university, I am asking God to make me soft. To hold tight to my vulnerable heart and allow me to continue to feel deeply. I don’t want to reject the blessings He’s created in me. When it seems like it would be easier to hide behind a wall I’ve built myself, I pray that I would have the boldness and the courage and the trust to step in front of the battlements. I want to be used by God. Molded and shaped to look more like Jesus. If He has given me this heart, it is because He has plans for it.
God, make me a feather. Make me a sail, and be my guiding wind. Make me clay in Your hands, Make me water, and pour me into the lives of my family and my friends and those I love and those I fear. Give me the heart You desire. Give me the desire for You. Soften me. Break me. Give me your strength. With that, I cannot fail.