Thursday, September 20, 2012

How to Never Get Burned Again


Earlier this year, I had an intimate worship experience with God one morning over some scorched hash browns. I had been struggling hard to “embrace” my incredibly-limited (medically-necessary) food plan, and that morning, He tenderly and tangibly reminded me that I can worship Him in my sorrow – right in the middle of life’s ugly, grueling, and despairing places.  

My perspective improved that morning, but my propensity for burning those blasted hash browns sure didn’t. Then during a grocery run one day, I spotted some “southern” hash browns in the freezer section. They’re the same as what I was eating except that they’re little cubes instead of shredded, so I decided to try them. And guess what. I discovered that they don’t burn nearly as easily as the shredded ones! When I made the switch, I smiled with delight as I was cooking them because I was so pleased with myself that I had found a way to reduce my chances of burnt-food-induced frustration. {pats self on back}

I made a similar strategic shift when my laptop died this summer. I was so disheartened that we had to fork over 100+ bucks to have my picture memories extracted from my dead laptop that I decided I wouldn’t put any files on my new laptop’s hard drive. None. It was just too risky. So I’m outsmarting it this time. Because this time, I have an external hard drive permanently plugged into the USB port, and that’s where I have been storing everything.

Oh yes, I am all about preventative measures to spare myself recurrences of pain and agony. My list could go on and on. Take a look inside my fridge when I’m thawing meat, and you’ll see that package of meat sitting on top of a plate. That’s because I’ve had more nasty meat juice messes than I care to count. And how about spending a ton of time composing a long e-mail, and then an evil fluke makes it disappear right before your eyes the moment you hit the send button?? {I heard you echo my growl.} Anyone else copy the text before pressing the send button now to avoid that? I do!

As I was standing at my stove proudly tending to my well-managed hash browns, I thought, “It’s all about not getting burned, isn’t it? . . . "

Because that’s largely how I approach life.
And sadly, my relationships.

I walk through life as if I’m living on a mine field, ever navigating around what appears to threaten my emotional survival. Consciously and subconsciously, I strategize to minimize all risks: the uncertain, the uncomfortable, and the downright painful. Because in my mind, they’re explosives that promise only shrapnel. The agony of relational hurt can be too excruciating, so I tell myself that I’ll never let THAT situation happen to me again. Burn me once, shame on you. Burn me twice and shame on me, right?

And so I put preventative measures in place to assure that I won’t get burned like the last time. I don’t even care if the measures are terribly awkward like my external hard drive that perpetually dangles from my laptop. As long as I perceive my feelings as safe and secure – inside that hard, unbreakable enclosure – I feel protected.

So here’s the secret for how to never get burned again:
Build a self-protective fortress around your soul.
It works like a charm.

And the more frequent the attack, or the deeper the burn, the taller and broader my fortress becomes . . .

Here’s the problem:
In doing so, we become isolated prisoners chained to the darkness of our own cold, concrete walls.

Rather than taking deep breaths in the fragrant fields of freedom and forgiveness, we construct impenetrable walls that surround us only with the oppressive stench of bitterness.

And it chokes us.

Inside castle wall
This is how Beth Moore describes it in BreakingFree:
“Life's way of reacting to a crushed heart is to wrap tough sinews of flesh around it and tempt us to promise we'll never let ourselves get hurt again.
That's not God's way.
Remember, self-made fortresses not only keep love from going out; they keep love from coming in. We risk becoming captives in our own protective fortresses.”

In other words, when we focus so hard on avoiding the explosive mines in the field,
we create them in the process.

“the more you try to avoid suffering, the more you suffer,
because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you
in proportion to your fear of being hurt.” 
~ Thomas Merton

The reality, my friend, is that we live in a fallen world. And Jesus assured us that we will have trouble. And we can either try to manage that trouble on our own by stacking cinderblocks around the chambers of our heart – living life as a bitter fortress. Or we can place our bleeding souls in the tender hands of the Healer. And let our pain breathe, rest, and heal in the arms of Trust. Isaiah tells us that this is why Jesus came – to bind up the brokenhearted.             

“Only God can put the pieces of our hearts back together again, close up all the wounds, and bind them with a porous bandage that protects from infection . . . but keeps the heart free to inhale & exhale love.
- Beth Moore, Breaking Free

I don’t want to be consumed with the mines anymore.
I want to be consumed with Jesus.

So I’m inviting Him to tear down the walls in my soul.
Will you dare join me?

~ ~ ~
Come read what the Lord revealed to me about these walls in the follow-on post, Letting Go of the Need to Make Sense of the Pain


  1. How beautiful Tanya! Thank you for sharing and being so wonderfully vulnerable yet again. I can think of some defense mechanisms I cling to. And those walls, defenses, ugly self-protection is NOT what God has for us. I'm very much encouraged to let Jesus tear down some walls and allow more of Himself and even others (eeeek!) to be let in!

    You are a gift!

    1. your words are always overflowing with such encouragement, carly. thank you for always blessing me with them.

      and i'm right there with you on the "eeek!" about even letting others in. just yesterday, i read this from joyce meyer:

      "You can't have real love unless you’re willing to forgive. Love keeps giving the other person another chance, and it keeps trusting them over and over again, expecting them to do the right thing the next time."

      is that not a powerful challenge, or what! but i praise God that He is greater than our hearts & that with Him all things are, in fact, possible.

      so may it be true of me, Lord! may it be true . . .

  2. I needed to read this today. Beautiful words. Beautiful message. I can just hear the thunder crashing, wind, and rain to break down the walls holding me back from full abandonment to Jesus.

    1. oh carolyn marie, i am so delighted to have you walk through the front door of my blog. and even more grateful that the Lord used my words to love on your soul.

  3. Beautiful words of encouragement, Tanya. I totally agree. There's so much pain in life but with a powerful and loving Savior, we have someone who heals our hearts when we get burned. Also, on the protecting of our feelings ... when we do this it also keeps us from feeling the positive emotions we want to feel. We can't shut off our emotions from the bad without shutting out the good too. Yikes! Been there, done that! Oh, and I'm so glad you found an answer to your hashbrowns dilemma! :) Great post!

    1. thx so much for your encouraging & insightful comment, beth -- what a blessing to have you stop by.

      i really appreciate the important reality that you highlighted -- that when we shut out the bad, we also shut out the good. i've certainly been there, done that as well. probably still do, to an extent. but i've tasted the Freedom on the other side, & it's ever so sweet to my soul, so i'm inviting Him to keep me on the healing journey.

      blessings to you & yours, my friend.

  4. You are a true blessing, thank you.

    1. so are you, denise. i'm so humbled by your trust in our Father in the middle of your journey. and i was praying for you & your appointments yesterday.

  5. This is a beautiful and honest post. I love how you are able to put your journey into words. All of this is so true. If we block up our hearts, we are protected but become bitter. When we open our hearts with all it's hurts and give it to the Lord to manage, He works in those broken places, making them stepping stones to the next part of the journey. Beautiful.
    Bless you dear Tanya
    love Steph xo

    1. your comments always have a way of reaching out across the ocean to offer my heart a warm hug of understanding & compassion, steph. thank you, my friend.

      i'm grateful that the Lord allowed our young paths to cross (a "few" years ago), & for the privilege of knowing you & being called your friend.

      love & hugs back atcha,

  6. Oh yes, I know those walls all too well. In fact, sometimes I think Pink Floyd wrote "The Wall" just for me! Tearing down walls is scary at first, because, let's face it, you are inviting pain to come in. But here's the twist: by tearing down walls, you also invite love in!

    1. thx for stoppin' by, travis. (and loved "the wall" throw-back!)

      what you shared is the very principle that God keeps reminding me -- that tearing down the walls not only invites pain, but also love, joy, freedom. my head gets that, yet my heart still ruthlessly vies for the safety of the darkness. but i seem to remember hearing somewhere that there's Strength, even when my heart & flesh may fail. :)

  7. But i don't want to get hurt.

    Seriously. I have to talk myself through this every time. That I'm taking a risk, that it's going to hurt, and that it's okay because the alternative, being isolated and alone, is worse. I'm constantly pep-talking myself. Constantly. Because I hate HATE HATE getting burned!

    1. i am completely with you, joy. i didn't like that RA trust fall any more than you did, nor my rock climbing wall attempt. trust issues for sure here. so in my estimation, you're demonstrating a tremendous amount of trust in that you *have* the pep talks. (b/c sadly, my pain can stifle me from even atempting them; oftentimes, i just resign to the hurt.)

      in the past 24 hrs, i've heard this phrase two different times: "lean into the pain/discomfort"
      i was very intrigued, but didn't understand what it meant. and now i'm wondering if for me, it means simply stepping back into the uncomfortable ring. not worrying about the victory, but simply taking the hard first step for my heart & mind to just show up. and embracing the freedom to wrestle with God as He tears down the walls -- even though it's exactly what i've asked Him to do.

  8. Absolutely a wonderful post dear sister! Thank you so much for sharing and linking up with SHH! Blessings!

    1. thanks so much for sharing how much it spoke to you, misty. and i'm so honored to be your featured blogger this week.

  9. Thank you for being willing to allow me to share your post with my readers. Blessings sis!

  10. Yes this is beautiful and sounds so much on how I have conducted life.

    1. same here, monica. what comfort that God is greater than even our greatest wall. tear 'em down, Lord. tear 'em down . . .


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...