The last of the car doors shut. The kids rushed inside, and although I typically follow suit, I waited. Leaning my head into the steering wheel, I sat there in the quiet. My voice broke the silence. It started as a scream and turned into a wail.
In the confines of my locked car, I let the walls come down. The weight of ought and expectation on my shoulders made it easy to resist picking up the pieces. I was tired. The barrier surrounding me was doing anything but creating a secure boundary. So, on this particular afternoon, I decided to dismantle my attempt at protection by seclusion. The act of releasing all the tension was a contrast to the white knuckle grip that held my heart, my measly attempt to keep things looking good.
Willingly I surrendered my agony and aspirations that day. The weight of trying to appear to be a “put together” woman while continually swapping out the different hats of wife, mother, leader, student, and friend had worn me thin. I’d carried the torches of ought and expectation, one in each hand, for far too long. I held them proudly at first, confident that it was up to me to light the path. I was responsible, and this was my duty. But these torches I was holding felt cumbersome. The flames of strife and comparison had burned my hands more than once, but still, I held on. I couldn’t see past the bright light that burned in front of me.
I had lost my way. I sat there broken, wishing I held something whole to offer, something of worth. But in reality, I was bringing what I held dear. I wanted to appear strong, to gain the approval of others, only to find that seeking affirmation from others always comes up short in the end. I know now that I was only protecting my insecurity. The space behind this wall I had erected grew cold and dark. I looked to the torches I was holding to be my source of light and direction, but instead, they left me with burn scars and smoke-filled eyes.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. Psalm 51:17
The balm of Scripture soothed my aching heart, allowing vulnerability room to breathe. There in the car, through my tears, I spoke these words aloud, over and over again. I brought all of me to the only place I felt fully seen and accepted, before the One who created me. As the truth poured out of my mouth, my heart began to believe the words. God did not despise me. He loved me. He knew the road of struggle I had walked to reach this point of surrender, and he was patiently waiting for me there.
My hands were now open. I had released my grip on what I thought I needed and postured myself to take hold of something entirely new. So in the safety of my car, I waved my white flag of surrender. It felt fitting to do it there. The walls of this vehicle had witnessed the truest forms of me. The early morning school runs in pajamas and no make-up, the unedited outburst of anger toward my children when I think no one else hears, and the loud singing that occurs in my garage when everyone has exited the car. These doors and windows have witnessed the mess along the way. This awkward and loud release marked a pivotal moment of surrender, becoming a declaration of freedom.
My walls came down, and God’s love rushed in. As I entered my house, I had an immediate opportunity to receive and extend the love I had chosen to embrace just moments before. With empty distractions no longer blazing in front of me and blocking my vision, my heart filled with peace as I looked around my messy living room. One of the twins was in the kitchen cracking eggs to prepare a mid-afternoon serving of French toast, an offering of love to her family. The other twin was busy at work drafting a banner strewn across the living room floor with the names of our family members filling the space. A declaration that we are her people, and she is proud of us. My son had the TV on, a bit too loud as usual, standing to his feet shouting with passion for the team he wanted to win, an example of understanding the importance of being folded into something bigger than himself. A testament that being part of a team is always better than going the road alone. My youngest daughter was snuggled in the corner, innovating new designs with her pattern blocks and calling me over to witness her exceptional work, an invitation to speak value over her efforts and her life.
I could have missed all this. When I lowered my defenses, allowing God’s love to break through, it shifted my perspective, providing a new lens, one of love.
Love transformed how I see.