I just unlatched and walked through a rusty gate in my heart. It seems as though I have neglected the garden that once bore fruit, flowers, and life. It was in this garden that I once twirled around pretending to be a graceful dancer, where I talked to animals, and everything in me felt the Glory of God.
I don’t quite know the moment I left the garden, not returning until today. Maybe it began when my father’s eyes didn’t gleam with pride for me. Maybe it began the first time I became insecure with my body because a friend pointed out something I wore was too tight. Maybe it was when I felt like I would never live up to my parents’ expectations, or even my own.
I remember feeling beautiful in the garden. I felt captivating. I felt fearless. I felt loved.
It seems as though for years I have only experienced those feelings in fleeting moments and seasons. I felt beautiful when my dad brushed a curl out of my face, looked me in the eyes, and told me I was a beautiful princess. I felt captivating when my crush would glance at me. I felt loved when a friend would squeeze me and tell me that I was her best friend.
It’s as if a voice called me out of the garden, telling me that I had to leave in order to grow up and understand the world. I would never learn anything if I stayed in such a beautiful place. I needed to leave this dream, it couldn’t last forever, right? I felt like Eve in the garden, being beckoned and tempted to learn the realities of the world, as if that would make me wiser and more beautiful.
I heard the gate snap shut when my father’s gaze was filled with anger, directed at me. I heard it creak when my husband didn’t seem to want me as much as I wanted him. I forgot about it when I looked myself in the mirror and thought it impossible that anyone would find me beautiful.
I remembered the garden today as I was huddled in a dark corner, weeping in a deep, aching pain.
No one will ever love me consistently. No one will find me beautiful every day. No one will want me to the point of sacrificing everything.
Maybe it was that same voice of the one who called that once little girl away from the garden, reminding me of that place where I once believed, in every moment, I was beautiful, loved, wanted, and fearless. I was a princess who was loved by her King.
The King found me today. He asked me to take His hand and follow Him. I slowly lifted my gaze and reached out for His grip, bringing back memories of the days where I danced with flowers in my hair. Part of me was scared to go back. I knew it would look different. I knew it wouldn’t feel quite the same.
“Open the gate,” He said gently.
“Oh, but it is rusty and the garden seems to be overgrown, neglected, and filled with little life.”
“I have a plan,” He said as He nodded to the gate once more.
I opened it and the creaking was uncomfortable, bringing with it painful memories of the day I left, the days I ignored the creaking, and the days I forgot this place.
He handed me some gardening gloves and clippers while he carried a wheel barrow full of gardening supplies. He told me we were going to make this garden even more beautiful than I remembered. He told me it would take time, but to not fret because He was going to help me. He loved me constantly. He wanted me daily. He sacrificed for me in every moment. He spoke proudly of me. He said I am beautiful.
I look forward to dancing in this place again.
“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.”