“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.”
― Maya Angelou
It’s been a couple of weeks since my last post, life got in the way, but I thought it would only be appropriate to wrap up “Open Heart Season” to make room for the next season.
Throughout the month of October I opened up about a few things regarding my bouts with depression, my experiences as a child dealing with an alcoholic father, and how it was always difficult for me to have an open heart.
I decided to open up this post with a quote from Maya Angelou. She’s always been someone that I admired because of her spirit and determination to rise above her circumstances.
She did not have an easy life. As a matter of fact she suffered a very traumatic childhood which included a rape incident that left her in complete and total silence for five years. For her to still find the strength to say, “have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time” that is truly inspiring.
It got me to thinking about how this simple little one line has so much truth and wisdom embedded in every word.
Why have an Open Heart?
Let’s talk about it. If my life experiences have taught me one thing it is that you can never live life to the fullest if you are always living in fear. What types of fear? Fear to love, fear to trust, fear to explore, fear to take risks, fear to dream, fear to hope… I mean I can go on and on…
And if we have to be honest with ourselves when we experience disappointments such as a parent who just could not meet our emotional needs or that first time that we fell in love so hard that we felt like the wind was just knocked right out of from us, it is extraordinarily scary to open up again.
Yet, if we want to live a full and complete life, we have to let go of fear.
Keys to an Open Heart
1. Be Courageous
Apparently God knew were going to struggle with this one. So he left us a couple of reminders… be courageous, have courage, or any other variation of it is talked about numerous times in the Bible.
Here’s one example:
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified or dismayed (intimidated), for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (AMP)
A little context behind Joshua 1:9, Joshua was just recently appointed leader soon after Moses’ death. You know the story, where God’s people crossed the Red Sea and then they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. Well, now it’s time for them to enter the Promised Land, but their leader just passed away and now Joshua is taking on this huge feat of leading the people into the Promised Land… but prior to Joshua taking on this leadership he had gone through a training season where he had to defeat a couple of giants. Yup, you read right – GIANTS.
The interesting thing about God is that he gives us a blessing (in this case it was the Promised Land, but for us it might be marriage, or a career, or a special calling) and then he’s like, “Well kid, this is going to be tough. You are going to have to face some giants, some huge walls, and you are going to have to fight, but you have to be strong and courageous. Don’t worry, I’ll be with you every step of the way.” Fighting the giants is just preparation for conquering the Promised Land. Joshua had defeated giants yet he still needed to be reminded to be strong and courageous.
Maya Angelou knew about these types of seasons all too well! And she was kind enough to drop a wisdom bomb on us with this little one line. She knew it was going to be a little bit hard at times, but she also knew we were all given this little something called courage. We all have it. It’s like a special super power and when we choose to activate it in the name of love amazing things are bound to happen.
2. Trust God (God = Love)
If you give me permission to keep it real for a second… let me tell you about how I KNOW God has some good plans for me, BUT when depression, loneliness, doubt, and all these giants come for the attack… sometimes I just feel like giving up. Courage and trust have to go hand in hand. I find the courage to keep going BECAUSE I know I can trust God.
I’ve said this before and I will say it again, God has some amazing plans for us. Jeremiah 29:11, says, “For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. “
It’s hard to trust God when bad things happen, I know. I’ve only shared some of my experiences with you, but I’ve also had my heart broken, suffered through financial hardships, had doors closed to my face, gone through rejection, experienced sexual molestation, was criticized by people who called themselves the church (NOT bashing the church just saying some people aren’t well – with all due respect), just to name a few things.
I am not sharing this because I want pity. I refuse to fall into a victim mentality and just let bad things happen. Trust me, I wish I was making some of this stuff up. It would make life just a tad bit easier I think, but if I sit here and focus on all of the bad things that happened, I will miss out on the beauty of life. I can’t fix my past, but I can choose to live in the moment and leave the unknown (the future) in God’s hands.
And like the Psalmist said, “When I am afraid, I will put my trust and faith in You.” Psalm 56:3 (AMP)
Another cool thing is that the bible says God is love (1 John 4:8). So when Maya Angelou says, “trust love” I interpret it as her also saying “trust God”. At the same time, we understand that the whole premise of Christianity is that God loves His creation. He loves man-kind in all of it’s imperfection. At times, when I felt as if I wasn’t good enough I would focus on this one truth – God is love. So, if he is love he knows how to love perfectly. I trust that love will get me through to the other side.
3. Have a Little in Yourself
Seriously, do it!
Come on, if you are reading this right now, you already beat so many odds. You are alive. You are breathing. In spite of the pain you manage to smile. Even if you are faking it, sometimes it takes more courage and strength to fake it just to make it through the day.
We are wired in such a way that we are lot more resilient than we often believe.
We are wired in such a way that we are lot more resilient than we often believe.
Do you remember the first time you experienced a heartbreak? Oh, boy it hurt like crazy!
I remember mine… I remember scarfing down my ice cream thinking, “I am NEVER going to love again! My grades are dropping. I am going to quit school. I am depressed. Someone got to know the real me and said NOT enough…” Perhaps, I was being a tad bit melodramatic, but hey… if you have ever been in love, like that “gut wrenching, this is the one for me, forever and ever, because I am 19 and I know what I want” type of love… you know it can be traumatic!
I thought I was not going to make it. Looking back it was bigger than just the break-up. I was dealing with some HUGE GIANTS. Those dudes would not back off. I would pray and pray for God to bring healing from that massive disappointment, but the truth was I had lost faith in my ability to recover and love again. I mean truly love.
BUT God is good. He came through. He opened up my heart to love by using somewhat of an unconventional method and no, this isn’t going to be a romantic story of how some gallant, handsome, strong man came in and swept me off my feet after “Mr. Almost Right, But Not Quite” decided to break my heart.
God used this ugly, little, hairless, stray dog to tug at my heart and slowly show me that I could love again without fears or inhibitions. We used to go out for walks and I would tell him (yes, I would talk to my dog) of how heartbroken I was because I simply felt unlovable and he would look up at me with those big, brown eyes of his and wag his little tail. I didn’t know it at first, but that little warm, fuzzy feeling I got inside every time I’d see my sickly little pup wag his tail was an indication that my heart was experiencing love again. A different type of course, but love nonetheless.
I remember this one time so vividly, I was sitting on my front porch talking to my dog about how I felt so unworthy to be loved because I just couldn’t get this love thing right. He looked at me with the most puzzled look on his face as if saying, “Girl… have you seen me?!”
I realized at that exact moment… my dog was really, really ugly. He had uneven fur everywhere, dude was missing teeth, he even had a hernia on his butt (TMI sorry), but this was one ugly, little dog. At first I thought he was a puppy, because he was so tiny, but after a couple of visits to the vet… it was revealed… he was like 89 in dog years. An ugly, old, little stray dog.
And yet, that didn’t stop me from loving him. I didn’t care that he was ugly because he was the sweetest, smartest, nicest creature I had ever met. I felt God whisper to my heart, “If you can love your dog with all of his imperfections, what makes you think I can’t love you? Can you love better than me?” I stopped complaining after that.
I also realized I was a lot stronger than I thought I was. Apparently, that little dog knew I still had it in me to love again, that I had enough courage to love again. I just needed to have little bit of faith in myself.
Oh! AND I finished school and went back for a master’s degree. Eat that heartbreak! Hahaha! My romantic life is still on deferment sort of (for those people paying back student loans, you know what that means) but that’s OK. It will all come together eventually!
After all is said and done we cannot let our past dictate our future. It’s going to take a lot of courage for us to live a life with an open heart to what God wants to do in our lives, but I trust that we each have it in us to try yet more time.
This Weeks Prayer
Dear Lord, man it’s been rough. I’ve faced a lot of disappointments. I feel like I’ve been fighting these giants forever! But, I trust that you will make a way. At this moment, I choose to activate my courage, to trust you, and to love once more. I choose to love you, love myself, love life, and love others. I believe that better days are yet to come and that you will guide me and protect me every single step of the way. Please guard my heart from the giants that may want to deter me from my faith and purpose. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
This Weeks Blooming Heart Journal Questions
- Inspect your life and identify some of the giants that you are currently battling. Write them down and pray to God to help you overcome them.
- What giants have you already fought and conquered?
- What are some areas that you can say, I need to have a little bit more faith in myself?
This Weeks “Blooming Heart” Challenge
This week I challenge you to think back and identify a time when you found the courage to trust love one more time. Ask God to guide you to right person who needs to hear your story and share with them that experience. Make sure to tell them how choosing to love blessed your life. You never know who will be encouraged to hear about your story of love.
For the busy bees the audio for this weeks message will be coming soon!