I wrote a letter of great value to someone I deeply care about. It was to a guy whose character really caught my eye. This letter was full of the beauty I saw in him. It was rich with depth. It was written throughout months of prayer, and crafted to convey all of the characteristics of Jesus I saw in his character. It was the most vulnerable thing I had ever written to anyone. I was sharing my heart with him. Showing him what I saw in him before he even thought twice about me. I decided to give it to him, to encourage and strengthen him no matter what the outcome was. Because if anything, it would be an encouragement. It would be a reminder to him of who he is, and what someone saw in him. It was laced in love. I sent this letter straight to a heart.
After he received the letter, I began to see a change in the way he acted towards me. There was a shift in our typically very open, easy relationship. He began to hold things in.
As I continued to share more of my heart with him, it felt as though he was placing his in hiding. Our conversations could not get to a place of depth. I could sense him struggling when we were together. He was acting confident and cool, like things were good, but something was making him nervous to fully be himself.
Why was he hiding the man I knew he was, and the man that I have seen since I knew him…the one I wrote about? After he knew how I felt about him and what I saw in him, shouldn’t he be more open to me now, let his guard down and feel even more free around me? Did he read the letter? Had he not seen that I have always been here?
I sat quiet to hear God speak into this, because I could not figure out what had gone wrong. In the silence, after asking God what was distancing him, the Lord enlightened my eyes to recognize and understand something that I had known deeply all along. I had felt it within myself before, that sense of not feeling worthy of being fully known and fully loved. That desire to hide from those who love us the most.
After a lot of confusion, which lead to a frank discussion, He shared with me that if I knew of his past and what he was coming from, then I would not look at him the same. I might not love him the same. He was afraid that he would fail me. My words were too kind, too good. He would surely let me down.
This was fear was holding back his vulnerability. This letter that was sent to a heart, got stuck in the doubt of a human mind. The heart is what we humans consider the center of a person’s thoughts and emotions, especially that of love and compassion. The heart is the wholeness of a human, it is not just emotions. The heart is the center of man’s character. When I wrote this letter to the guy, I did not write it on his appearance, his accomplishments or his past. It was not meant for the head. I wrote it about his character and how I see Jesus inside of him, the things that dwell and overflow from his heart that had spoken to mine. I wrote it as a highlight of who he truly is. I wrote it about the things that make him who he was called to be. I wrote to his purpose. I wrote it through the lens of love, which must and can only be received with an open, fearless heart.
“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.” – Timothy Keller
So many of us settle for being loved instead of known, but there is so much that we are missing out on when we stay in our head rather than open up our heart.
A similar situation happened to me once.
A letter was written to my heart. A letter I received that was of the highest value, from someone who cared about me deeply. It was from someone who saw me fully and knew me for my innermost being. It was full of the beauty that He saw in me and that was inside of me.
It was written and rooted as He was crafting me. It was the most vulnerable thing I have ever read or received. He gave me a piece of His heart and gifts that I couldn’t even comprehend. Telling me what he thought about me, before I even thought twice about Him. It was full of encouragement and things to strengthen me, to make me fearless and free. It was written as a reminder of who I am and what someone sees in me. It was laced in love. He sent it straight to my heart.
As a child, I loved the letter. I read the letter every day and I honored the letter. But as soon as I slipped up, I began reading the letter with the doubt of a human mind, rather than my heart. I replaced the letter with words crafted by the wounds I heard from the world, and the voices I allowed in. I felt so unworthy of the letter, so I ran. I hid. I locked the door to vulnerability.
Brene Brown says, ““Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”
When we hide, we run into shame, unworthiness and fear. While I was in hiding, I did not share my emotions with people. I wore a mask. I held my tears in. If anyone knew what I was running from, they would not see me the same. I would let them down. That was what I thought, what was in my head.
During my days of running, I happened to run right into the arms of someone that changed my whole way of thinking. I broke. Not only did I tell her I was running, I told her what I was running from, and she looked at me and said these words, “I see a pure heart.” In that moment, I realized so much. I realized these three things about the letter I had crafted, from the voices of the world that had been swirling around in my head.
What you did is not who you are, nor who you were called to be.
What they said about you was never who you were.
How they made you feel was never what you were meant to carry.
I went back and read the original letter I was given. The letter was from Abba Father. It was a letter to his beloved daughter. Written before I was even born, while he was crafting me and planning every detail of me. I read it with my heart, and I was slain by the understanding of His unconditional love for me, His boundless grace that was offered. I read it once again fearlessly and with a humble heart, and received the love and the gift that was freely given. While knowing every single part of me, every mistake, every failure, every triumph and everything I would overcome. What I found this time was:
A peace that surpasses all understanding.
A grace that is sufficient for me.
Mercy that is new every day.
Identity that is unshakable.
A sound of freedom.
A path to destiny.
Compassion that does not fail.
A love that never ceases.
Undeserved. Unearned. Yet given through a letter to my heart, that I pray I never again allow to get stuck in my head.
I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory. For this reason, I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God