Let It Go: An Elegy For The Walls I’ve Built

When I was little I experienced some traumas that stuck with me into adulthood. An intentionally absent father. Grown folks who liked to remind me that I didn’t belong. Black kids who teased me about my dark skin and glasses and geekiness. White kids who disparaged my intelligence. Adult men who pressed at my boundaries. These were hits to my psyche that at the time I did not know how to combat or preempt. So I held them close to my chest, shrugging off the immediate hot pokers of pain while building up a tough veneer to ward off new attacks. Compartmentalizing the harm while continuing to doggedly live life as fully as I knew how, without words to explain to myself what I was doing.

And those tactics worked for me. Each time I experienced a psychic blow, I walked in the words of Paul, being cast down but not destroyed. What I did not understand though was how damaged I had become. It was not until I was fully into my adult years that I recognized the weight of trauma I carried. How my inability to make sense of and integrate those emotionally painful moments bubbled up in my interactions, my brain forcing me to relive those psychic fists as overreactions in fear and anger. I would be nearly irrational as normal life conflicts morphed into wars that I could not fight when I was a little girl.

As I grew in my faith, I began to unpack those painful memories. I would take each one–one at a time as God led me through layers if healing–and hold it up to the light, reaching down into the middle of every little sphere and pulling the thread so that it would fall apart and expose its core. Rejection. Fear. Envy. Malice. Shame. I kept picking and pulling until nothing was left.

And yet. I felt myself to still be shuttered, closed off and far away, trying to reach full on freedom of salvation and self. You know, how Jesus said “free indeed.

This last layer has been about dealing with the residue. Not of sin or iniquity because I truly believe that Jesus paid it all and my account balance in the heavenlies went from negative to paid in full. No. This last mile has been about the weight of carrying what those people I encountered dropped on me while I was too young to know I didn’t have to pick it up.

Paul commanded us to lay aside every sin and weightthat so easily slows us down so we can run our God given race with endurance (Hebrews 12:1). Emotional trauma is weight–dead weight–that keeps you trapped under a load so heavy that you cannot see you way. And even though I had identified and settled those issues in my mind, the dust of it has lingered, dimming my light and dulling my joy so that it was almost like I had never experienced healing.

It has been deliverance from the residue that I have been after in 2017.

So I sat with it. Considered it. Tried to come up with a plan on how to clean it. Finally, I figured out–or rather God made it clear that God didn’t ask me to fix it, clean it, or even dwell on it. God had asked me–been patiently and repeatedly demanding of me–to let it go. To forget those things which are behind me. To decide that those things no longer exist for me. To decenter the wounds of my past altogether.

Seems simple, right? Yet nothing valuable is without cost. Even my salvation, so freely gifted to me, had a price. What is, then, the price of true deliverance for me–and for you?

It is vulnerability.

You see, the compartments I’d built to house pain had become walls that went beyond mere coping mechanisms; they didn’t let bad stuff out but also kept good stuff from coming in. To claim completeness, wholeness, deliverance, I’d have to destroy the whole system I’d rigged to save myself from being breached ever again. I’d have to trust. The process. The possibility. The purpose. I’d have to lay myself bare and go from there.

So I’m here now. I get it. I am lighting matches to the kingdom of self preservation and trusting that God holding me in the palm of His hand be enough. I am…afraid, but I have determined that who I am is not more important than who I shall become. I want to walk into the next levels free indeed. Prepared. Open. Clear. And running full out.

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