I want to tell you about the girl I used to be.
She kept her fists held high, knuckles bruised. She needed to protect herself–and I don’t mean physically–because the greatest hurts are the ones of the heart. This girl’s heart, though she loathed to admit it, easily bruised and bruises can turn into scars so she raised her fists in the air metaphorically–against feelings, against others, against her own family, even against God. She didn’t believe in surrender. Nothing could make her just lay down and die.
This served well for a long time. Her heart was safe for a time. And when it comes to work, school, writing, this blog, a fighter’s attitude helps her to be successful.
But in matters of the heart…
I remember the first time I saw A Philadelphia Story. There was something so magical about Katharine Hepburn and her accent, her witty rapport with Cary Grant–clearly still in love with Red–and the antics of Jimmy Stuart. When the movie ended, I turned it over and over in my my mind with my fisted hands. Because I saw parts of my heart in Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn).
I remember reading about Jacob wrestling with God (Genesis 32). I read it over and over because I knew I was wrestling with God and I did not know how to stop. I did not know how to surrender. God ends up touching Jacob’s hip and instantly, Jacob is paralyzed and gives up the fight. I used to pray that God would touch my hip, teach me to surrender when it came to my relationships. I laid in bed and asked God to force me to surrender and I didn’t surrender. I fought and I fought. I screamed until my voice was hoarse. My fists, oh my fists, bloody and bruised, but still willing to fight. I don’t (and never have) given up easily. And then He touched my hip and I surrendered.
One thing I’ve learned is that anger is always a secondary emotion. If I say, “I’m angry,” that’s not the truth. I am scared or worried or lonely or hurt or betrayed. I’m angry because any of those feelings. Anger covers a multitude of emotions, just as love covers a multitude of sins.
Two things helped me lower my fists when it came to my personal life. The first was a heartbreak–cruel and horribly painful–the end to an unhealthy relationship. It wasn’t the heartbreak but the healing of it; a heart can become whole again if you let it. This took time and effort and the belief that I could come back from this. At first, I was angry at him, but that’s not what took so long. I was most angry at myself because I felt as though I betrayed myself by letting my guard down. I should have known. I should have seen. I never should have let my guard down. The heartbreak made me want to fist my hands tighter, protect myself. The healing–becoming whole again, a new and whole Nina–made me wanted to lower them.
The second thing which forced me to lower my fists was that I finally surrendered, not on my own accord, but on God’s. He touched my hip (Genesis 32). And I lay in His arms safe as His beloved.
It took so much for me to realize I’ve always been afraid in relationships. Fear has ruled my life for as long as I can remember in more ways than I can count. Some days, it still does. Fear keeps/kept me fighting. And I wish I could say to all of you: but don’t worry. None of my fears have come to fruition. I would be lying. My parents did get divorced. A boy did break my heart. And more. Still, there is beauty in the ashes.
But I’ve lowered my fists in many ways, although I am sure I could lower my guard more. I’ve learned to have some regard for human frailty–not just other people’s although this was so much a part of the process–but of my own. I have to have regard for my own human frailty. It’s a process but most days I like the girl I am becoming, the girl who can be hurt because she is human. And yet, there are still days when hurt pushes me to lift my fists and try to protect myself.
But this girl? The one I am today? She tries to remember to lower her fists. She tries not to be afraid–of vulnerability, of softness. (Of course, this does not mean she isn’t still sassy.) She gives her fears over to Someone who can handle it. And she rests her hands at her sides.*
*Except when it comes to work…then I don’t mind being a fighter at all.
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