The Frightening Freedom of Being Known

Do you ever build walls to protect yourself? I occasionally notice that the view has gotten more restricted around me and discover I have erected yet another wall.

Recently, I have begun to realize these walls are rarely to keep dangers out but to keep my true self locked away and unseen. I allow out only those qualities that people seem to like – the one who is good with words, the voice, the cook, the laughing and joyful one, the one who seems to have unwavering trust in God. These parts are accepted and even enjoyed, and so, they are mostly allow to stay outside the walls, (though, even they try to hide at times).

There are aspects of me very few get to see – the one who has a meltdown over fears which may never happen, the one who beats herself up over what she should have said or done differently, the one who forgets God’s promises, (or worse, chooses not to trust them), the one who has been known to sit at home in her pajamas eating junk food when she is struggling or feeling alone, the one who sometimes chooses to immerse herself in stories rather than talk to God about what is troubling her. These parts don’t fit my picture of acceptable behavior for a woman of God who teaches others about finding their identity and purpose, and so, they are hidden.

This may seem obvious to all of you, but I am only recently rediscovering that there is great freedom outside the confines of my self-made prison. The aspects of myself and my life that seem to me to hinder the message God has given me, sometimes make my story more relatable to those who need to hear it. I am not perfect. I have not arrived. I’m still walking the journey of learning to live boldly as the woman God made me to be.

The fear that if we are truly seen and known, we’ll be rejected and left alone is an insidious one. The truth is, I never feel more alone than when I’m locked behind the walls I build to protect me from being left on my own. It may be scary to step outside the confines of our “protective” prison and be known for who we truly are, but there is a freedom found on the outside that is well worth the risk.

We are already fully known and loved by God. He sees beyond our walls, and knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows who we are created to be and how far we still have to go, and He loves us more than we can imagine. His love is all the “wall” we need to protect us from what others think of us. And, while there is a risk some people will reject us if we venture outside, there is also a chance that we will find a place of belonging, a place where we are greeted with the words: “Me too. Let’s walk this path together.”

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Hope Found in a Jigsaw Puzzle

One of my favorite things to do when I have a couple of days with nothing pressing is get out a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle. Depending on the difficulty, I will often spend 2-3 days straight doing little besides eating, sleeping, and standing over the table, looking for where each piece fits. There is such a feeling of accomplishment when I see the whole picture completed.

When I visited my family in the USA last year, my mum bought me a puzzle to bring home as a Christmas gift. So, just after Christmas, when I knew I had some days free, I ripped off the plastic and excitedly started working on it. Sadly, though it was 1000 pieces, it proved relatively easy, and I had it completed in about 8 hours.

Once completed, it stayed on the table for a couple of weeks, waiting to be dismantled and put away. I’m not sure why it took me so long to put it away, but it’s good that it did. During the process of taking each piece apart, God spoke to me and brought hope to my heart.

I’ve been praying for the last number of weeks for breakthrough. As I’ve prayed, I’ve seen a person behind walls, enclosed in a small room in the middle of a beautiful garden. I’ve felt that the walls were built by the person for protection, but that they have become a prison instead, holding the person back from things God wants to give them.

Perhaps the person in the room could represent many of us; I know it could represent me. I imagine there are many of us afraid to step into the beautiful places God wants to take us. Even if we want to take that step, some of us have built such convincing walls, we believe we can never get beyond them.

The morning I began to dismantle my jigsaw puzzle, I had been lamenting how impressive the walls appeared to me, believing that breakthrough would take years, if the walls ever came down at all. Yet as I started to take apart the puzzle, piece by piece, a quiet voice whispered into my heart that the walls are no different than this puzzle. Within minutes, no two pieces were still connected, though it had taken me hours of work to put them together.

God used that moment to bring hope that it will not take countless years or months, perhaps not even weeks, to see walls fall. Even walls that have taken years to build can be brought down quickly with the right motivation and resources. Just as a house takes months to build but can be completely demolished in minutes, when we decide to bring down the walls, it doesn’t have to take a long time.

The walls may look impenetrable, but they are not. As I have continued to pray about this picture of the room, I have noticed that although the walls look like the walls of a fortress on the inside, the outside is simply drywall. A fist could break through the walls at any moment, but the inside has been painted to look formidable to those seeking their ‘protection.’

God loves building things, but He also loves tearing down things that stand in His way. He is the only resource we need to see breakthrough in the things holding us back from all that He has for us. His love, perspective and strength can bring down walls in no time.

The only thing stopping Him is us, those on the inside, afraid of what the beautiful garden might bring our way, or perhaps afraid that we can no longer escape our self-made prison of ‘protection.’ He will not break in uninvited.

Are you hiding behind walls, afraid of where God wants to bring you? Do you want out, but believe it will take years to break through into His best for you? Invite Him to help you demolish the walls and step into all that He longs to give you.