Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Burden

For as long as she could remember, even before she knew its name, the longing for approval resided in her heart. She tried her best to please everyone in her little world, chastising herself whenever she fell short.

Her longing did not go unnoticed. People named her "nice" and "kind." But it didn't fill that empty spot in her heart because she knew better. She knew there were dark places no one saw - things that would cause them to withdraw the approval she cherished if only they knew.

She confessed those things and understood they were forgiven, but her heart would not forget. She even began to correct people when they called her "nice" or "kind." Perhaps she thought the confessing would  be its own means to getting their approval.

Still, when she lay down in her bed at night, the silence and darkness closing in around her, she picked up those confessed things and felt crushed beneath the weight of guilt and shame.

She went on a Christian Retreat and packed the guilt and shame along with her Bible and notebook. She sat on the straight-backed chair in the large room and the lady began speaking. She had never seen her before, but she spoke as if she could see right straight into her heart.

When she finished speaking, she asked everyone to write down on a piece of paper the thing they thought could never be forgiven - the one they carried like a lead weight in a fragile heart. She took her little pencil and put the words on paper - the words that had kept her bound for so long.

"Now," the speaker said. "I'm going to collect all of the papers. Then, after you go back to your rooms tonight, I'm going to take every single one of them out to the big camp fire and throw them in. They will curl in the intense heat and burst into flame. They will be gone forever - powerless."

She could hardly see for the tears, as she walked into the night. But she walked lighter. Something inside had been released. A weight had lifted. In the darkness, she felt the light of His love and the warmth of His approval.

It had been there all along. She had only to open her hands to receive it.

"Let me not dwell so much within
My bounded heart, with anxious heed-
Where all my searches meet with sin,
And nothing satisfies my need-
It shuts me from the sound and sight
Of that pure world of life and light."
    Anna L. Waring

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