As life happened, I began using my heart as a storage unit. Each box sealed shut, labeled, and stacked. We’ve all moved enough in our lives to have a mental picture. Each disaster, each love, each loss…all represented by a taped box. And storage units aren’t the greatest living quarters. They usually don’t have electricity. No heat. The bad ones can be damp. And don’t forget the many bugs that inhabit the place.
One day I had a conversation with a friend. She was speaking from a place that I had never lived. She had peace in her heart. Passion that surpassed anything I had ever possessed. As I sat there, trying to pretend like I was in the same headspace, I couldn’t help but feel jealous. How the heck did she get to this place? And why can’t I?
That conversation stirred some feelings in my heart. Feelings that I didn’t understand or know how to handle. Something was moving in that storage unit. At first I assumed it was just another one of those bugs, looking for food in a desert. But I had nothing more to offer them. I couldn’t feed them. No more fear. No more depression. No more alcohol. They were starving to death. Too weak to move. Which means something else was in that storage unit. I tried to ignore it. But I couldn’t.
Ya’ll know what heartburn is? Well, I was experiencing that. But not physically. No, it was almost emotionally. Where was this coming from?! I had to know. Step one? Start unpacking that storage unit. I needed to find whatever was in there. And woah, talk about not being ready for that kind of labor. There were boxes in there that I didn’t even know about!! Others were mislabeled. We all know that frustration. Nothing like having the kitchen pans placed in the bathroom. I had “Heartless” on a box that contained abuse and abandonment. That feeling of being unworthy and not good enough wasn’t a “me” issue. It was the result of something that happened to me. And by mislabeling it I never had the chance to really unpack and evaluate its contents.
Some boxes were too heavy to move on my own. Others were so old they were falling apart. But I kept going. I couldn’t see anything moving. However, one day I caught the faint smell of smoke. Strange. I couldn’t see the smoke so it must be someone else’s unit. I eventually made a path to the very back wall of my unit. There were still many boxes around me. But a path is better than nothing right? As I pushed a small box (labelled “Lonely”) to the side, I saw something unexpected. There was a fire. The size of a candle flame, maybe smaller. That wasn’t even the craziest part. There was a man huddled to the flame.
How in the world could a man survive where not even insects were thriving?! He looked up at me with eyes that spoke for themselves. It was like the last hug you received before your grandma passed away. The late nights sitting in a field gazing at the stars. Listening to birds chirping in the distance. Waves crashing against a shoreline. His gaze silenced everything else. We were no longer in a damp, dark storage unit. We were among the clouds. And his embrace brought comfort and peace that I couldn’t understand.
If I told you my heart was no longer a storage unit I would be lying. I’m not perfect. My heart is not perfect. BUT! I do have a Healer, a Counselor, a Father helping me get through those boxes. They no longer come in taped up. They are wide open. Ready to be sorted and trashed just as fast as they come. He also helped me move those boxes that were too frail or heavy to move on my own.
The small flame that He was guarding when I found Him is still burning strong. In fact, it glows brighter and burns hotter every day. On my weakest days He is there with His arms wide open. All while protecting the flame. And on my greatest days He is there gazing with the satisfaction only a Parent can give. Throwing all of the useless boxes into the fire. Causing sparks to fly and smoke to rise. He plans to use my heart to start a wildfire that stretches to the storage units of others.
Our relationship has grown and I visit Him daily. I no longer have to search for Him at the back because He has helped me make a place for Him front and center. Day by day we turn my heart into a home; where love grows, joy thrives, and darkness is defeated.
I hear some of you. “What if I’m too weak to even make that initial path to find Him?” Well, my friend. I would love to help. We weren’t placed here for some of us to succeed while others drown. More than that, He doesn’t expect you to make a solo journey to Him. No. His word says all you have to do is SEEK Him with all your heart and you will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). He isn’t behind those boxes hiding. He’s waiting for you to pursue Him.
Look into your heart. What do you see? Boxes? Start moving them. Toss them. Ask someone to help. Go find Him. He’s there. Just like that game that you played when you were a child. “Marco?” “Polo!”
He’ll direct you. “Jesus?” – “Erika!”
With love, from my fortress. ❤