Authors note: another unpublished post from the past. This one was drafted November 24, 2009, but never published. As I read it over, I couldn’t figure out why I hadn’t published it. Only made minor modifications.
About a week ago, I had this experience. I was having an interaction with someone, and in the middle of the interaction I heard the Spirit of God speaking quietly into my own spirit “Will you open your heart to this person?” The interesting thing was I wasn’t aware of my heart being closed. The person was someone I liked, enjoyed spending time with and considered a dear friend. I would have expected such a question if faced with someone whose need overwhelmed me, but though like all of humankind this person had needs, I didn’t feel overwhelmed by their need or like they were asking something of me that I wasn’t willing to give. So, the case was not one that I would have expected a challenge to open my heart.
Yet as I heard this question whispering gently in my heart, I knew my heart was not fully open. So, I made a conscious effort to open my heart. Two amazing things ensued. Not immediately, but sometime later, the person opened their heart more fully to me. No “deep dark secrets”, but sharing important stuff — questions, thoughts, hopes, longings. And the second thing was later that evening at home alone, I found myself drawn into the presence of God, and experienced His heart opening up and pouring out to me, and I was suddenly amazed to realize my heart was more open to God.
The experience gave me a deeper revelation of what I already knew, which is if I open my heart to my brother and my sister, I open my heart to the Lord. An open heart is an open heart and a closed heart is a closed heart. I can’t decide to open my heart to God, and not open it to my fellow man, and I can’t decide to close my heart to one without closing my heart to the other either (1 John 4:7-8, 1 John 3:17).
But the experience held another lesson as well. I’ve thought about it and prayed about it in the days that have passed since. God was asking me to open my heart to much much more than simply human need. I think before now I’ve always linked opening my heart to other people to opening my heart to their need, and yes, that is a part, but if I only open my heart to the need of the person in front of me I have still not opened my heart to the person themselves. The Lord is asking of me so much more: to open my heart to the fullness of the mystery of that person. It is written that we are created in the image of God. This God is an infinite, eternal God. In the image of this God we are created! Wow, what an amazing thought! Each person is intricately and amazingly made, and yet so often when we open our hearts only to our own image of that person, only to our expectations of them, only to our thoughts of what they can do for us, even if it’s only making us feel better about ourselves for helping them. But what would it mean to open our hearts fully to the person themselves, to the things that make them fully human — for instance their creativity, their free will. To open my heart to someone with a free will, either God or man, means to open my heart to a mystery.