Have you ever had a conversation with someone who isn’t in the room?
Like, you’re engaging them in your head,
sparing and defending
projecting their responses
through your own judgments and grudges,
entertaining the fantasy that they are entirely wrong
and you are entirely right.
I do that a lot.
Not on purpose.
It just happens when I let my mind drift.
I can always tell what’s really going on inside of me
if I’m arguing with someone in my head.
I hear their imagined words in my head
arguments spawned out of my heartache
and I answer them audibly
over my steering wheel
over my dishes.
Often my kids say,
“Mama, who are you talking to?”
And I say, “myself.”
I lie, and I tell the truth.
In that moment,
I am always full of confusion and heartache.
Paul calls these moments logismos:
They are the bitter bricks that strongholds and fortresses are made of.
Speculations are castles of strongholds we build when we mate with a lie.
I have built entire cities in my heart before I even realized I had picked up the first stone.
Without mincing words,
meek Paul is unflinchingly strong
that vain imaginations must be destroyed.
They are contrary to the Spirit,
stealing and wielding and dividing
Piling layers of fat and sluggishness
on my precious and perfect spirit.
I knew all my vain imaginations merely reflected
where I did not yet know His realness,
did not yet trust others,
or did not trust myself.
Daughters well-seated in Home do not prefer imagined conversations to real ones.
So I have been brokenly tearing these things down
over and over and over
opening my naked heart, quivering and shaky and standing and learning and failing and sometimes winning.
I’m making it sound like work I’ve been doing, but truly,
Jesus has been doing it.
My entire effort has been stay-open-and-do-not-run.
When I catch myself arguing
with the imagined and invisible,
I repent immediately,
turn myself to Jesus and say,
“Ok. This is You and me.
“Let’s tear this stronghold down.
Remind me about this precious person
and expand Your love in me for them.
Source me in this.
Show me where You are in this.
Discipline me; search me.
Help me test my emotions and affix to You as truth.
I hide nothing. I am afraid of no one.
I am beautiful and loved and highly valued.
This is You and me. Let’s talk.”
And in some places
I’ve been experiencing extraordinary freedom,
a clear, strong gentleness.
I can not overstate the deep, abiding steadiness and fearlessness.
and yet, some parts of me…
they simply will not submit.
I have been laying them open to the light,
waiting for them to burn to ash like vampires in the sun.
Waiting to be loved, reproved, and rebuilt.
Waiting to be told where I was wrong, where I had faltered, what needed fixing
so that I could heal. (read: so I could stop hurting)
I think I thought that if I could just get them to Jesus,
if I could just get these things to Him,
they’d come into context and lose their bite.
But instead of burning dry and floating away,
I instead seemed to be like a miner
slicing through black ore
and hitting solid rock.
The hammer clanged and recoiled.
And I could not figure out why these things
these firm unyielding darknesses
these things embedded in me
would not yield to Jesus.
If anything, they became unspeakably more pronounced,
seemingly immune to death.
I’ll be honest.
I begged for their destruction.
I rejected them.
But they refused to die.
They stand here even now in me,
constructed of something that absolutely will not consent
And it dawned in me, What if…
what if those things aren’t meant to go?
After years of unreserved drilling,
had I finally begun to hit the core?
What if these things will not die
because they are made of life?
Had I discovered the fortresses of Jesus in me?
Had I finally set my eyes on the foundational aspects of my life?
Had I discovered something I could keep?
I was covered in black mud.
I leaned back and brushed my brow,
leaving streaks across my face.
I peered down, testing and mistrusting
any idea that I would deliberately fail to
tear down my enemy.
But there it was,
peeking through the sediment.
A solid footer of solid gold,
Smeared and grimed but gleaming.
I sat down,