Sunday, January 10, 2016

A New Heart

"Either these words will come out or they'll haunt you until they do. Refuse to let fear write this letter. Let every word written, instead, represent and be synonyms for love." 

Before I found love, well, before love found me, I used to wonder what it felt like to be chosen. Chosen out of a crowd, sought out from an audience. I longed to be seen, noticed, and appreciated. For a long time, I thought I could fill the emptiness of being second choice with my phone, praying to be truly seen through a screen I thought would fill my heart with every double tap on my twice edited, all too perfect picture. I convinced myself that to be looked at was to be seen and to be heard was to be listened to. 

And just like that, it was gone. As quickly as it came, the heart on the screen was fleeting, almost like it was never there. It was completely and utterly unfulfilling for the human heart - not fitting quite right - like the wrong glass slipper on a heart that was shaped more like an asymmetrical lump. 

I tried to hold it in the palm of my hands - that little red heart - to feel something, anything. But finally something told me that the red, symmetrical, perfectly shaped heart always had a giant CLOSED sign on it. Do not disturb. It doesn't allow for things to come in and out. There's no blood flowing to and from it, keeping us alive. It's just a bad drawing of an anatomical heart that somehow made a holiday for itself and made empty promises that it would fulfill us and make us feel warm inside. It never really chose us, saw us, listened to us for who we were. It was just an impostor.

The human heart on the other hand, now that is art. It has perfectly placed arteries and veins, blood flowing in and out, and an aorta to distribute oxygen rich blood into the body. A semi-lunar valve to prevent the back flow of blood from the arteries. I'd like to think God does that for us. Provides the oxygen in our lungs and tells fear to keep out the way the heart does for our body. 

"Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." (Matthew 12:34)

And from that, the abundance of my fearful, 2D, little red heart, I lived. Two things I learned from fear: everyone will break your heart and running is always the answer. So I began to run because I believed him. I even believed I could outrun fear himself because I knew he would break my heart someday too.

I thought fear was the only one who would ever choose me. I thought he was the only one who could see me for who I really was - just a girl with an abnormal, worthless, heart beat. "You need me to live," he whispered, "I'm your pace maker - the reason you're alive." Sweet empty nothings whispered in my ear and promises that he would never leave me. He vowed to always choose me first, to never leave me, to protect me from the will of God. He taught me to trust no one because who else could be going through something as pathetic as you are?  "You're on this journey alone. No one will ever understand you."

No one understands you. This. This thought is the root of all fear, the very reason fear makes its way into hearts around the world, unannounced. It convinces you that whatever darkness you're feeling, whatever ugly lie you're believing about yourself, it's just you. Alone. Everyone else is fine, it's just you, fumbling around in the dark trying to find the light switch on the wrong side of the room.  

Then something happened. I fell. The kind of fall that scratches you up and makes you feel like you have nothing left to give. The fall after you've been running and looking over your shoulder for too long, making sure fear isn't following you, forgetting to see what's in front of you. It was like something grasped my heels and I had no choice but to fall face forward. I guess that's one way to get my attention. What I didn't know was that falling - that's fear's worst nightmare. It's too vulnerable for him. It exposes the lies he'd been telling you all along. It makes you look down and realize that you were running in place the entire time - merely just a simulation of going somewhere, but never leaving fear's side. I thought it was till death doest part with fear, but little did I know he never signed the marriage license. I was so busy being convinced by fear to run, run, run, that I didn't realize what I would be missing if I just stopped. It was then that I learned of love.  

So this is a thank you. Thank you, fear, for teaching me that there is someone better than you. Thank you for the bruises you gave me, for the black eye I believed for far too long that I gave myself. Thank you for always reminding me that it is YOU who is alone, not me. Your insecurity is so deeply rooted in the definition of who you are that you tried to make it define me too. And let's be honest, you never really chose me first. You tried to drag me along for your ride and convinced me it was my ride. You just wanted someone to feel the pain you were feeling. I get that. 

I'm sorry, fear, I found love. Love didn't try to convince me that I was alone, it reminded me that someone gets it. That's all I needed, the assurance that one person out there is going through the same thing. Love was like a sweet familiar friend. We had never met before, but when we did, it was like we'd known each other for years. It was like picking up right where we left off, catching one another up on old stories and laughing about both the future and past. 

Love isn't cheap or stingy. When love found me, I came with a price and it wasn't cheap. I wasn't the item in the department store that got put on sale because it wasn't selling. Love bought me at full price and didn't even have second thoughts. He restored my true worth. 

Love took the form of blood and came gushing into my real, broken, tender, human heart. Pumping in life and filtering out fear, this cardiac arrest was just what I needed to unclog my arteries filled with greasy lies and salty wounds. Love came in the nick of time - just when I was ready to sell my aorta to fear for the small price of a dime, not understanding it's worth. As we were getting ready to make the exchange, me and fear - my heart for a dime - Love's blood pressure increased in my heart and flatlined my obscured vision. 

A heart transplant. Out of the abundance of my new heart, my mouth speaks. Love is my new heart. It drives out fear and now I can only speak into people what there is an abundance of in me - life. 

These days, fear is sneakier. Before I know it, he seeps in and I relapse. I thank him, again, for pushing me closer to Love and making me stronger. I thank fear for reminding me who saved me - Love. 

Sometimes I still convince myself that the tiny red symmetrical heart on my screen is enough. I swear it gives me life until I find myself empty, realizing I've diminished my complex anatomical heart to nothing but an easily satisfied object. 

Most of the time, I have more questions than answers, and I'm okay with that. At least I've learned to stop running. I'll be the first to admit that fear still makes an appearance here and there, but he's no longer the star of my love story. This letter is his last letter right here. He is not choosing me nor I him. When I finally fell, fell right into the arms of love, arms that had been waiting to catch me since day one, I laughed. So this is what it feels like to be chosen. 

I think fear loves comfort and hates commitment. He loves comfort because it means apathy and hates commitment because that requires choosing love. Fear also hates adventure because it means you're conquering him. I knew love was different the moment we met because when He found me, face flat on the ground after a fall, He smiled and whispered, "What's life without a little adventure, eh? Just take my hand, and I'll give you My heart."