As believers, we were not taught to look into the past. To squint our eyes and focus through the mist at the untended garden. As a young person my goal was to climb the wall and escape the constraints. There were people who believed in my potential but no one who nurtured it. There was a molding instead, of thought and of action, resulting in shame, fear and then anger at the world for being a mean place. Determination to find a peaceful, hopeful place drove me to climb the garden wall and escape.

By the time I was 13, I worked after school and on weekends. When I was 16, I bought my own car. The beginning of my senior year in high school, on the day I turned 18, I moved into my own apartment and did not look back for 20 years.

My path to intimacy with God was a bumpy one. A deep longing for love drove me to places I wish I had never gone. I had no understanding of acceptance or even a belief that I could be accepted because it died, crushed when I was in grade school. It was pinched off at the root by a friend who asked me why I was trying to please everyone. At the age of 12, I listened to my best buddy explain that in life you could never make even one person satisfied by your actions. And if you could manage to do every single thing for one person, that person would still not be happy with you. There would always be something more they would want. It would become a life of watching just one other person to see how to act, to dress, to play, to work…and in the end I would never know me, only them. Being accepted meant being manipulated by someone else’s expectations, so I left it behind.

I built high walls around my heart from a belief that there could be no relationships without extreme demands upon my identity. Though I did not have a clue who I was, I was convinced I would never find out by listening to others slap my every dream into place. My understanding of the power of vulnerability and the essential need for belonging is a fairly recent paradigm shift…which has led me to this backwards walk climbing the old garden wall looking for what is alive but dark that must be pulled out and what is frail but beautiful that must be nurtured for my heart to finally experience truth and beauty.

This garden of my heart is the place of my uniqueness. A place where Jesus has come in. A place where the Holy Spirit of God is helping me nurture, grow, and weed so that I may become that which I am.

Jesus is the only person, the only God, who when we look fully into His face, we see ourselves as we are completely born to be. We are reflected through His perfect love wholly accepted, touched by the beauty of the Divine, empowered to fill the true, unique space that is our own.

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