Monday, June 4, 2012

the preserving of self

An innocent word spoken but
I bristle and my defenses go up.
Past history seems to say this could lead somewhere painful.

A critical word said and
annoyed I line up my justifications in my head.
Past history seems to tell me I might have to prove myself.

A tired word falls on tired ears and
I have only enough energy to be wounded.
Past history tells me I will have trouble letting go.

Isn't it just the way life goes sometimes?
We hurt and we get hurt.
Sometimes without intent.
Sometimes with.
Regardless, it hurts.
Tears a little at the heart inside.

When it happens enough, when hurt becomes more common than rare, I find myself apprehensive. 

Apprehension turns to caution.
Caution turns to slight retreat.
If hurt lingers, slight retreat turns to emotional stiff-arming.
Stiff-arming turns to withdrawal turns to isolation.

And all the while I tell myself it's self-preservation.

What I don't realize...what I am just coming to understand...
is that there is no such thing as preserving yourself.

I pick up brick and mortar and I build a wall to keep me safely in. I have soothed myself with the thought I am protecting myself from future hurt, future pain. 

What I don't realize is I am cutting myself off. Like an emotional tourniquet that will restrict blood flow. But the problem is once shut off, shut away...only death follows.

The heart is a muscle and left unused it will do what any muscle does - atrophy. My figurative heart will do the same. Left in my walled tower where I feel safe from further hurt, I am just cutting off the life-flow to my soul.

My feeble attempts at self-preservation can't preserve myself at all. I can't save myself from hurt. from pain. from struggle. I can't save myself. period.

Self-preservation can never keep me right where I am. My emotional well-being at this place in time is only for this moment. If I lock myself away with self-preservation as my intent, I will find myself, 2 years down the road to be less emotionally mature than before.

It's not like I am garden variety green beans meant to be canned for the coming fall. Vegetables can be preserved. My emotional health can not be by labeling relational retreat as self-preservation.

All self-preservation really does is stunt my relational growth.   All self-preservation does is keep me hidden from others and myself.

Self-preservation is an impossible reality. 


Yet, God in His mercy, knows a pained heart needs room. Needs healing. Needs space. 

A place not of my own construction through offended senses but a place of safety where He can tend to wounds. 

When I take my pain to that place, I slowly lose my desire to attempt preservation of self. I have, in it's stead, given myself over to the One who knows me best and loves me most. And then, wonder of wonders, I find my heart - soul - self has been kept by Him. A kind of preservation in a way, I suppose, but by Design. 

God yearns, just as I do, to keep me from undue injury. 
He longs, as I do, to shield me from future pain. 
He does so by tending to my heart not tending to my tower.
He knows what's best for me - and He gives it. 

Life. Blood pumping amply to all of me. 
Hurt becoming scar not wound. 
If I will but run to Him and not just run away.

And in the process, I am more than preserved. I am not just patched up for more surviving of life. I am given the possibility of really living again - fully engaged in relationship and unafraid. 

I'm hurt and in pain; Give me space for healing... 
- Psalm 69:29 (The Message)