On Thursday morning, I said something stupid to a person who matters to me. It was something hurtful. It was something disrespectful. It was rooted in a wrong assumption, and I never bothered to ask for clarification before I armored up and threw out my jabs.
By Thursday afternoon, I knew what I’d said wasn’t okay. I knew it was hurtful. I knew the person on the other end of the line probably felt less than great after I said it. But it was too late. I’d lost control of my words. And I’d already said it.
On Thursday night, I wanted to apologize.
I picked up the phone. I said I’m sorry, and I asked for forgiveness.
As the person on the other end of my phone took a breath to speak, I braced for the worst. But, I wasn’t met with any hurtful words, just a simple question of what made me say that in the first place. Was there something else you wanted to talk about? Is there something deeper you’d like to discuss? It seems this has been bothering you before just today.
No, I said. It’s just that I assumed (insert wrong assumption here).
Well, that’s not correct. Please ask me before assuming.
OKAY. FINE. I’M NOT PERFECT. I MESSED UP. STOP ATTACKING ME.
I’m not attacking you. I’m going to go now. Let’s talk later.
Well. That’s not how I wanted that to go. What happened?
The way I see my heart in that exchange, it’s like a house. A house somewhere that the weather is wildly unpredictable and could change at the drop of a hat in my favor… or not (so basically, a house in the South, if I’m being realistic).
My house is safe when the door is shut. It’s warm and dry and comfortable.
When I open the door, I don’t know what weather I’ll get. It’s a risk. It’s a gamble. I could open it wide and receive sunshine, only to have torrential rain come in a moment later and mess up my warm, dry, comfy house. Or, I could throw it wide open, and take in sunshine for hours on end. I just don’t know which one I’m going to get.
So, if I was truly being vulnerable, I’d leave the door open and hope for endless sunshine, despite the possibility of rain.
But unfortunately, Satan has been guarding the door to my heart. And here’s how he does it… let’s call him The Oppressor (because after all, “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor,” as I’ve said before):
Allie: “Okay, self. Let’s apologize. You messed up. Time to own up to it and say you’re sorry. You did a bad thing, but it doesn’t make you bad. You did an unlovable thing, but this person will still love you. You are still lovable. Let’s do this.”
The Oppressor: “Whatever. You’re horrible. You’ll never be good at relationships if you can’t get this passive aggression under control. Get it together.”
Allie: “Shut up, Satan. I’m opening the door, and I’m going to apologize.”
The Oppressor: “Fine. You better open it just a crack. Wouldn’t want to let any rain in.”
I apologize. I say what I want to say. And I mean it. I am truly sorry, and I say that.
Then comes the questioning. Was there something else I wanted to talk about? Is there something deeper I’d like to discuss?
The Oppressor: “Oh, look at that. Your apology wasn’t a good enough explanation. I told you you’d never be good at relationships. You idiot, shut the door! Look at those clouds of questions rolling in! Shut the door before you let the rain in, stupid.”
Instead of sitting in the uncomfortable, but vulnerable place I had to go for the apology, I listened to him. Instead of reminding myself that a few clouds don’t mean the sun can’t shine through, and that this might not even equal a downpour, I let him talk me out of risking it. I shut the door. I stopped being vulnerable and immediately became defensive.
Why couldn’t I block him out? I had listened to– and obeyed– the voice of Satan. But then, why is he the one guarding my door anyway? Why did I let him get anywhere close to my house?
Satan is always standing idly in the street in front of my house. He’s like the ultimate creeper on my heart. He watched. When I stopped reminding myself that I’m a child of God, he inched his way up the driveway. When I stopped praying throughout my days, he made his way up the sidewalk. When I stopped setting aside time to look to my Bible, he made it to the door and started yelling insults at me through the mail slot (Yeah, my imaginary house has a mail slot. I’m an old soul, okay?).
It’s as simple as that. He was guarding my door because I stopped fighting him. But I don’t want him guarding my door anymore. Jesus died so that he could live within my heart, all the time, and he’s the one I want guarding it from the inside out.
So, Satan can yell insults through the mail slot all he wants, and he can warn me to keep the door shut so I don’t let in the rain. But from the inside, my Jesus will whisper in my ear and tell me to open the door. To take the risk. To step outside, and to tell Satan to get behind me as he harps on me about the dangers of getting wet in the rain.
And besides, I think Jesus would probably dance in the rainstorm anyway.
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