Today I drove past a woman wearing a helmet, while nonchalantly riding a Segway.
I’m sure there is some piece of legislation that dictates one must wear such protective gear, and that Segways are to be seen as viable motor transport … but I still think it’s a bit unnecessary. I mean, seriously, how many Segway accidents are reported each year? “Oh watch out for that fearsome Segway — those blasted automobiles are uncontrollable!” or, “Does your auto insurance cover any unforeseen Segway predicaments?”
Call me cynical, or any other label I’ll willingly don, but it merely appears that modern civilization has reached a new level of ‘overprotective’.
Think about this — we “Purell” our offspring into an antibacterial frenzy. Some mothers these days aren’t even comfortable letting Timmy play in the public sandbox due to the 1.789 percent chance he might catch a nefarious micro-organism, rendering him disfigured for the remainder of his unsanitized existence. Other parents would probably invest in clothing constructed from Bubble-Wrap if it were sold at the local Target.
As comical and potentially exaggerated as this may sound, the overused ‘Purell’ mentality has a tendency to leak into our adult lives, even as full-functioning, independent women. Biblically speaking, this can be a synonym for developing a hardened heart.
“For the hearts of these people are hardened,
and their ears cannot hear,
and they have closed their eyes—
so their eyes cannot see,
and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me
and let me heal them.” (Acts 28:27)
Did you know that recent studies have been reporting evidence that the excessive use of antibacterial products is leading to an increase in allergies? It makes sense really. God personally designed the mind-blowing genius that is the human immune system, so why would He create something too weak to stand up against the dirt in our backyards? Immune-deficiencies aside, protecting the immune system from carrying out its very purpose in the end, restricts it. And the same is true when it comes to over-protecting our hearts.
Allowing the Purell concept to gradually shape our emotional lives has the potential to rob us of feeling in fullness.
My Husband and I had the not-so-pleasurable experienced of encountering various obstacles early in our marriage. One in particular will always stand out against the rest for its rarity and unending implications on our relationship. When a Doctor shared what was wrong with me and in a nut shell, the unlikeliness of improvement, let’s just say that my heart almost instantaneously hardened. I shut everyone out. Not in an obvious way of course — I do have social reputations to maintain — but on the interior, where no one else could hurt me any further.
I lost my ability to empathize.
I served less passionately.
I stopped asking how others were doing.
And I tuned out when they answered.
I shared in logic only, locking my true emotions away so no one would have to endure them as I was forced to.
Over dinner one evening, talking with another woman who the Lord had brought along during my most difficult and irrefutably awkward season, she sat quietly for a moment before responding. Then looking straight at me she replied, “You talk about these awful circumstances with your head, but you keep your heart out of our conversations.”
I had Purell-ed myself into such a degree of emotional defense that I began to think in a range of facts, not feelings. Though, the worst part of this mindset is the second ramification it brings: I could no longer receive the overflowing love my friend had to offer. No amount of promises to pray for me could melt away my layers of protection. It didn’t matter how many shoulders God brought to my side to cry on, I had predetermined their impracticality. In my eyes, no variation of lady heart-to-hearts were going to heal my body or my marriage.
A hardened heart comes in multiple forms of disguise, mainly because they are on everyday display all around us. Strong women aren’t supposed to be affected by a break-up. God-fearing women only diet, they don’t struggle with eating disorders. They are weak if they verbalize disappointment. They should be the one in small group to offer prayer, not beg for it. In reality, the imprisonment of our natural vulnerability likewise imprisons our avenues for relationship with Christ, our close companions and most importantly, the relationship with oneself.
You see, Purell was created to protect us in our experiences, not to protect us from experiencing.
And when I coated my heart with layers of over-protective lacquer, the extreme level of armor robbed me from experiencing the love God had put in place around me … the safety net He personally hand-wove to get me through the painful moments, and seemingly hopeless evenings.
After some much-needed self-reflection, I think a lot of us would agree that we need to start rationing the Purell in order to melt away the hardened layers of its application.
“Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. ” (Matthew 11:29)
If anything from today penetrates your heart, I hope it is this: It’s safe to take off the helmet and set the Purell aside. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to reveal your complete frustration, or anger at God. There’s no shame in letting your walls down, even when there seems to be nothing but filth behind them. For in our darkest moments of vulnerability come the most strengthening of opportunities. Just as with the immune systems of modern-day rugrats, it’s time to let Him fortify us the old-fashioned way. The way that embraces contact with the outside world. Don’t be afraid, there’s only a 1.789 percent chance you’ll be disfigured for the rest of your life …
Ps: Did they ever figure out what happens to those kids that ate paste in preschool?
*photo courtesy: britney @baretribeblog.blogspot.com