True Surrender

Bench in formal gardenGetting older isn’t just about a cumulative store of wisdom that you can draw on. Wisdom means nothing until you make the choice to employ it. There’s a preferred expression I use: “take my advice, I’m not using it.” Recently I’ve been feeling like a hypocrite; the words I speak to others seem to resonate deep within my soul. All this great advice I have to share and yet I cast it aside like a fool.The truth be known, it’s easy to give advice when making a choice or taking action is the choice of the person you’re speaking with. The fear of self-application can immobilize a person into a life of solitude.

I have spent the last 15 years, or so, growing in many ways. That is a fact that cannot be disputed. The areas where I have failed to grow have been due to a consuming fear that has paralyzed my growth in the area of  relationships. Some people make it into the “sphere of trust,” but there has always been an inherent dread of the possibility that pain may penetrate that sphere. What I’ve come to realize recently, however is that my fear of being hurt has caused me to build a fortress around my heart that is virtually impenetrable. The sad thing is that I have conquered nothing by building walls. I’ve barricaded myself with my fears.

Believing I had surrendered to the false power I allowed fear to have over me did allow some growth but I have realized that we cannot love or allow ourselves to be loved until we acknowledge that there will be pain in all relationships and that is life – and it isn’t life threatening. Not all future relationships will turn out the same as those of the past and not everyone from our past is responsible for the pain suffered at someone else’s hand. The pain of our past cannot kill us unless we allow it to live on inside us – and that, my friends, is a slow and treacherous way to go. Where is the wisdom in that?

Try as hard as you might, you cannot move on from the past until the fear that the past will repeat itself is conquered. What conquers fear? Surrender. True surrender conquers fear. True surrender is not just a feeling. True surrender is born from a choice to believe that even if what you fear most happens, you will not only survive it, you can thrive  because of it – if you so choose.

We were made for each other. You can’t be there for anyone if you hide away in self-imposed solitude. Your pain has a purpose – Someone else out there IS exactly where you have been. Don’t waste your past pain – use it as a healing balm and apply it to someone else with love.

The wall I once built for protection has hemmed me in; my surrender will break it down and keep it down.

Heart Strings

If you’ve ever played guitar, you know that in order to continue and be proficient, you need to accept the pain of callouses on the ends of your fingers. I recently read somewhere that Eric Clapton puts alcohol on the tips of his fingers to keep them dry in order to “maintain” his callouses. A great guitarist needs calloused fingers in order to be outstanding – not only do they push through the pain, rather than doing whatever they can to ease the pain – many will make every effort to “maintain” what, in the end, will make beautiful music.

I gave up on the guitar almost immediately after I began.My aim is to be honest on this blog: I must admit that I did much the same thing with love after it began to leave a few callouses on my heart. I found that the pain and disappointment of loving were far too painful to bear. The only remedy I knew of was to give up on it, much the same way that I gave up on playing guitar. In fact, when I made a conscious effort to ensure no one could hurt me I had to harden my heart to love. That is far worse than a callous; a callous can be softened with a little effort. A heart that has been hardened is not just a condition of the surface.

These last two years or so I have come to realize that it is far more painful to exist without love than it is to live and love and risk a few callouses here and there. The truth of the matter is, whether it is family, friend, or the love of your life, if you set your sights on being loved – you will be hurt and disappointed, time after time – because when we give love for the purpose of receiving it our hearts are already somewhat calloused to begin with. If you make a decision to love freely, without condition, you will be loving as if there is no risk of being hurt …. again. Why? Because you are loving in order to love – whatever you receive as a result is a symphony played on your heart strings.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1st Corinthians 13:13.

Play a song on someone’s heart strings and see what beautiful music it will make. If you receive nothing back, that’s alright – that song will have been recorded for the ages and it will always be playing in the back of your mind.

Make a decision to live and love as though you’ve never been, or ever will be, hurt. Callouses on the heart are a sign that it is still beating.