Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Risk vs. Reward

I've lived a life of self-protection.

I've guarded my heart pretty fiercely.  I've kept a record of wrongs stored in this mind of mine simply because I needed to remember who is safe and who is not.  I've been slow to forgive, not always because of the heinousness of the strike, but because giving up the anger or the defensiveness would mean putting down the armor that I've plastered around my heart to keep out the pain.  I've had enough pain.  Who needs more?

Funny thing about this armor.  As much as it works to keep pain out (and really, how good of a job does it really do?), it also works to keep out love.  Because doesn't love involve taking risk?  Doesn't love require the weapons to be discarded?  Doesn't love require a safe, supple, permeable place to settle in?  Doesn't love ask for an open heart, one that can envelope, that can trust, that can rest in some semblance of peace and passion for another?

Such a quandary, sometimes.  Risk versus reward?

The past week, in my marriage, I've been consciously choosing love.  And all is great when love is returned.  But when a hurtful word comes, to what do I run?  Do I choose to pick up the discarded shields that I so willingly left behind just a few days ago?  Do I start to rebuild the walls around my heart with the rocks of anger?  Do I let the word that roll off my tongue sting like daggers, representations of the pain within?


Do I choose to throw my shoulders back, thrust my chest forward, and reveal a heart that is still soft?  Do I still choose to love with abandon, this man who I know loves me, too?  Do I offer him a heart that can be penetrated by offerings of apology?  Can I love beyond my own hurt, unconditionally?

I am grateful for the simple act of choosing which road I wish to take and this I choose:

To step away from the sword.  To leave my shields at the crossroad.

To ask for a different protector.  One with a name.

Father God.

And then, I choose love.


Linking tonight with Emily at Imperfect Prose.


  1. Beautifully lived out and said Jen! And of course, the heart with all it's texture and color is inspiring!

    Blessings on your Holy Week and Weekend!

  2. Beautiful, Jen. I was thinking about this today too. We had a fuss. I fight dirty and my soft-hearted husband doesn't always know what hit him. I am convicted over and over again of it. I could blame it on my past, on my parents' divorce, etc. but the truth is that it is my job to choose love regardless. To go to LOVE incarnate for the strength to do so, to apologize. We are in this journey together, sister-friend.

  3. This is just brave. Choosing. Turning toward the ones who know us best, the ones we can take for granted, the ones WE know...this is bravery. And it so will have a rich return.

  4. Wow! And it seems like it should be so easy to love the ones closest to us...but they are the ones we can hurt most and we are most sensitive to. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Choosing to love....If I could just get that right! Thanks for giving me inspiration so that I too, can choose to love.

  6. love is a risk...and though our shields give us comfort the love does all the more so...

  7. Yay, Jen! To step away from the sword and the battered shield and choose to be open, so hard. To redefine who we are from warriors to lovers, also hard.

  8. Such a beautiful post. Oh the reward of risking our heart...when He is involved.

    A situation has opened up recently where I am learning about risk and reward....and I am learning a lot.

    Your post? Encouraged my heart so.


  9. "Doesn't love require the weapons to be discarded?" How often we carry weapons and shields... but to truly love we must choose to "step away"...and "leave my shields". Yes, and so hard, but so right.

  10. How liberating when the mind allows the heart to soften. All becomes possible...

  11. This one has my heart racing a bit. I love it and could have written it myself, only not nearly so well.

    I don't have this problem with relationships that much. On the contrary, I'm probably too quick to forget it and end up making the same mistakes over and over, but I do have it with stepping out in faith in a big way.

    I absolutely love how you talked about rebuilding the wall and gathering scattered pieces of sheild to put between you and the offender. (Those might not have been your words, but that was what my heart was reading.) I do that. It is the single greatest impediment to my moving forward.

    This post reminded me of an old Simon and Garfunkle song. (Yes, I realize that you'll have to google them, you whippersnapper, you...) called "I am a rock. I am an island". The huge difference, though, is that the song is a lamentation without a solution. YOU, on the contrary, provide the solution.

    Obviously by the length of this, God spoke to me through you this morning. THANK YOU, blog friend, for being His instrument.

  12. I am going through something similar at the moment. I have already forgiven, but at the same time I can not fathom the thought of having that person back into my life.

    Relationships of any kind take work. But it is through Him, My Lord and Savior, that I am able to let others penetrate.

    Thank you Jenn for this.

    Mrs. M.

  13. your heart is beautiful Jen....Have a very happy Easter....

  14. you are choosing what is best... it is so hard sometimes. may you (and I, and all of us who so easily take up the false armor of protection) have grace to choose love, always.

  15. The armor that keeps out pain also keeps out the love. Ouch. You are right. Risk versus reward. It’s a battle I fight often. I’m not much of a risk-taker, but I do want reward. Learning to love beyond our hurts. Wow. These are great thoughts, Jen. Thanks for sharing them.

  16. This is so timely -
    Have been in a season of marital conflict. All the tough exterior just covers my deep longing for tenderness & compassion. And yet - my armor keeps the very things I long for, far away.
    Thanks, girl - well spoken, much needed.
    Teri @ StumblingAroundInTheLight

  17. Oh, how I have been there! Allowing bitterness in my heart snuffed out so much love, and potential to bless others. Forgiveness is such a refreshing cleanse to the soul!

  18. I love this post Jen.
    The Risk.
    I read this and it rings so true.

    This is a struggle close to my heart.
    Just was talking about this with a close friend last weekend.
    We had 3 biological kiddos and then adopted our daughter Selah, who died in '08. When we started the adoption process for a second time...this was the big's scary to open your heart to love...and to risk the pain.

    I needed this quote by C.S. Lewis:

    “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”

  19. What a great way to put things in perspective. SO heartfelt.

  20. oh jen, i have tears. you are a holy wife. you don't know how i need to learn from this... your heart beats such tender love, friend.


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