Hearts

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.

Irreparable?  No.

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.

 

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Requited.

I think we are all really good at coming up with reasons as to why we are unlovable.

I’m mean.  I get angry.  I’m too emotional.  I come with baggage.  I am not good enough.  I am not smart enough.  I am confusing.  I don’t understand why I do things sometimes.  I don’t love God the way I should.  I’m no good at relationships.  I am not really even that fun.  I just can’t be what someone would want me to be.

We don’t think we deserve it.  We don’t think we’re worth the investment.  I’m not (just) talking about romantic love; in general, we are quick to block the love of friends and family and the Lord.  So self-deprecating.  So convinced that we are the most broken person.

Not tonight.  Not anymore.

Because I am loved.  And you are too, and I will bet my (nonexistent) money on it.  Every (nonexistent) penny.  So loved by a God who does not make mistakes, a God who cannot abide in anything but love because all He is is Love.  And by some beautiful divine design, when He created humans, His Love-soaked hands permeated our pores with drops of our own love to give away.  That love that we all think we are unworthy of is the same love that we shower on our sisters and our brothers and our parents and our children and our friends and our spouses and our boyfriends and our girlfriends… Everything we think we can’t have we already give to others who think they shouldn’t have it.  And they give it back to us.

Because we are flawed creatures.  So backwards in our thinking and our loving.  But there is a remnant of the divine in our hearts, and it is that remnant that whispers to us –

Sink.  Sink into this love.  Let this love be a part of you.

And all the while we are loving other flawed people, all hearing the very same whisper.  So maybe there is hope for us yet.

These last few days, I have been overwhelmed with this love.  The whisper has become a shout, one that I am all-too-prepared to give in to.  I have been itching to sink for a long time.  So I did.  And it is wonderful.  It is like this summer was meant to culminate in love, in me realizing how cherished I am and then just allowing myself to dwell in it.  I don’t get how people can see all the good in me when I am so apt to see all the messy, weird, broken-up, hollowed-out pieces.  And yet they do, because perhaps the good outweighs the hollow.  Perhaps the Lord crafted me into a better person than even I realized.

I look around me and I see so many bright, startling, beautiful souls.  People with hearts so big and minds so sharp and laughs so loud – people who seek to spend time with me, who sit and talk for hours with me, who love me.  And they are so quick to say so.  People I love, love me back.  People I love, love me as much as I love them.  I can’t believe that’s possible.  I can’t believe God has blessed me with reciprocated love.

My heart yearns to give away its love.  I want to care for people.  I want to exhaust whatever supply of love my Creator poured into me.  I am not-yet-whole, so I screw it up a lot.  I withhold compassion; I greedily cling to the love purposed for my neighbors and for strangers alike.  Even the tucked-away love, the love I want to give to a someday-husband, is sometimes too tangled in the roots of fear and confusion.  And yet somehow, by the grace of God, I am still able to love abundantly, even when I feel that I can barely love at all.

How is it that so many people who I love earnestly are also willing to love me in the same way?  Isn’t that what everyone searches for?  Requited love.  Friendship that means as much to you as it does to me.  Siblings who fight with ferocity but who would give up the world for one another.  Two souls sitting in a balance, straight across from one another – smiling.

I am exhausted with finding reasons why I shouldn’t be as cared for as I am.  Anything I come up with is untrue.  I have been bought at a price – blood of Love, pierced hands that once molded my own heart and imbued it with goodness.  I was claimed by God not because I did anything to be worthy of it, but because He looked at me and loved me.  And in His infinite mercy, He created others who would look at me and see the things He saw.  Parents and family and mentors and pastors and teachers and friends… He let me see them, too.  He let me love them, too.

I am so thankful.