“Keep me soft.”
This is the thing I pray when I’m gripping my steering wheel and wondering why it appears that God always invites me down these insanely rocky paths.
This time last year, my heart was full of things I kept shoving down. I was choking on the truth, drowning in the words that needed to be said. I knew I would eventually have to come up for air.
One of the kindest things I’ve ever done was press send.
One of the hardest things I’ve ever done was the same.
Somewhere in the middle of those conflicting waves of emotion and truth, I found myself tethered to something I’ve never been able to escape.
The truth has never been something I can run away from. It is bigger than my feelings. It drips out of my skin and pours out of my mouth. The truth is the core of who I am; a carrier of it is who I’ve spent my life praying to become. The truth is also something I’ve spent too much time being ashamed to say or see.
To carry and to share the truth in a world that values filters and facades is a burden that sometimes feels too much to bear.
I grit my teeth. Laugh in frustration. Scribble my messy prayers to a God that tells me truth will set me free.
I might feel free, but sometimes I feel lonely.
Keep me soft. I pray this, over and over again. Because the temptation to shut my mouth, seal my heart, close my eyes overwhelms me every single day.
People are not God. This is the thing I have to keep learning over and over again.
People are not perfect. They will disappoint you. They will break your heart. They will say the right thing at the wrong time, the wrong thing at the wrong time. They will be exactly who you thought they were; they’ll turn out to be someone entirely different than you ever expected.
You will at some points utter words like “Never again” and “I knew it”. You will find yourself standing on the corner of Bitterness and Disappointment.
Don’t go there. This is the moment to whisper beneath those street lights, “God, keep me soft”. You will want to be anything else. You will want to be fierce, angry, indifferent, cold, numb, outraged. But definitely not soft.
I spent a lot of my life terrified to be soft, refusing to bend. Ducking behind every corner, beating my fists against every wall and punishing myself for every delicate feature of me that would float to the surface.
“Pull it together.” That was my mantra.
“Get your game face on.”
“You’re being ridiculous!”
And somewhere along the way, I realized I was growing cold. I was becoming calloused.
God, keep me soft.
“And because there will be more and more lawlessness, most people’s love will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12).
When the truth is hard to carry. When the path is rocky, painful for my feet. When I look around and many are cold. When I want to fight, when I want to run, when I want to shut my mouth, shut my heart, let someone else deal with the painful truth. God, keep me soft.
If I end up crying in the grocery store, beating my head on the steering wheel, losing my pride, risking precious things—God, don’t let my love grow cold. Don’t let the soft parts of me, the way that I love people become things I punish in myself, force out of my heart.
Sometimes the hardest things you will ever do are the kindest things you will ever do. In a world that encourages putting on a brave face to protect your heart, you’ll find that one way to protect your heart is by training it to be brave in giving others and yourself the truth we all need to face.
God, keep me soft. Hold me to the truth. Keep me crying. Keep me laughing. Give me more crazy stories and moments that make me remember how small I am, how big you are. Keep me taking crazy risks and praying reckless prayers.
God, keep me soft. Don’t let my love grow cold.