Play Your Cards Right

I’m a con artist and have been for some time. Sounds dramatic right? But it’s absolutely true. I’m not this guy in a suit scamming people out of their money and whatnot, but making others think I’m one thing when I’m really not, is my specialty whether I realize I’m doing it or not.

Let me explain. Vulnerability is not my thing. If I’m to be vulnerable, I do it on my own terms and I make sure it’s something that I have polished to some extent. It’s never something I’m currently processing or anything too close to home at the time. This has been a long time coming and is a product of fighting tooth and nail through depression and early concealment in my younger years. It’s also a high key form of control and protection. It’s fueled by the unknown and the desire to have answers for what I may be feeling or thinking. It’s product is one lacking in grace and full of keeping others at arms length.

In past years it’s been obvious to me that I’m hiding a lot of emotional hurt, so I put on the mask that lets you see just enough to give the impression I’m letting you in. But that raw, unfiltered Emma is never revealed in true color; she even keeps that under wraps when communing with the Lord. Recently though, it isn’t blindingly obvious (at least to myself for once) that I have more hurt that I’m trying to protect. That I still have one last sword I’m wielding, keeping people just far enough away that they see a glimmer of raw Emma but never get to sit with her in it.

I use the analogy of playing cards. It’s a pretty common analogy and I’ve become better at playing this game as years have passed. Revealing what I’m playing with before having a peak at another’s deck, isn’t something I do without hesitation. I have a lot of cards and I don’t just play this game with others, but also finding myself sometimes playing it with God. It’s a game lined with fear of being let down and loss of control over this stable self I have fought to get to. It’s a game that protects the twelve year old Emma’s dreams and hopes and love and her places of weakness.

Sometimes I don’t always realize I’m playing this game until I sit with God and lay down the sword and hand him my cards. Sometimes I don’t realize I’m playing this game until someone else is incredibly raw and honest with me and I’m still sitting there clutching my cards with stiff fingered hands, asking myself if it’s safe entrusting this individual with little Emma and all her hopes and aspirations. Sometimes I don’t realize I’m playing this game until I feel defeated and depleted of strength because I no longer am relying solely on God’s strength, but my own.

The real Emma, the raw one, is one of vivid color and sharp edges and powered by a love for life that can’t be contained. Half hearted is not a part of her vocabulary. This Emma has fought to be where she is. She dreams big and desires plenty. To live a life anything other than one on fire for everything is one she fears, yet constantly fights with.

This aversion to vulnerability is something that’s still in process. It’s not pretty and has plenty of rough edges. It’s unsettling and a constant battle of surrender. I don’t know how to fix this way of thinking and there’s only one who can: Abba. This isn’t freedom and I won’t settle for anything less than vivid color and an abundance of healing.

This season in life has been full of rewiring what I had haphazardly put into place so as to get me where I needed to go; to get me the bare minimum. I’m in a far better place mentally and emotionally in comparison to other years, but as I lean into this relationship with Christ I realize that letting Him take the wheel is much easier said than done. It’s not habit and the concept is new when I’m in a place that I don’t deem rock bottom or label as desperately needing help.

So yes, purposely seeking out those places I’ve simply covered with Jesus is painful. He’s wanting to uproot the way I think and asking me to lay down my cards. Sometimes it’s easy and some days I run in the opposite direction. But this is me admitting I’m not perfect and don’t know everything, but God is and he is the author and perfecter of my everything. He is teaching me to sit down and relinquish what I think is control and become dependent on His say so. So here goes nothing, whether I’m ready or not, I’m letting go.

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