A picture of a woman on a ledge facing a building

When life doesn’t go as planned, my immediate reaction is to withdraw. Feeling the need to protect myself and others at times, has let my fears dictate my next step.

I didn’t always recognize my motive for disengaging until after receiving my cancer diagnosis. I realized then that pulling back from others became a defense mechanism for me. I didn’t want anyone to get too close because I couldn’t control what was going to happen in the future.

I have found it interesting how our inability to control things allows us to be pushed around by fear. When we can’t foresee our plans, we forget that we might be destined for a greater plan and purpose. The diagnosis immediately changed the way I viewed my relationships. Urgent seemed to be the most fitting word to describe my approach. Yet, with all the unknowns and my desire to gather everyone in who I loved close and never let go, I sometimes displayed the opposite behavior.

I recall moments—not only with friends but also with my husband and children—when I chose to be aloof and isolated. My skewed mindset allowed me to believe I was doing them a favor and keeping them at arm’s length would be healthier than letting them in. I was wrong. I needed to not let the word “cancer” define me, but rather refine me and my relationships. I had to be brave enough to open the door to uncertainty.

I had to be brave enough to open the door to uncertainty.

Taking a leap of faith isn’t such a leap when you extend your arm to those on solid ground. I discovered that embracing my family and friends’ love and sharing my vulnerabilities is what helped and healed us all. Rather than reject, I chose to accept. Allowing them to love on me, and I on them, is what I truly needed. Uncertainty doesn’t bring courage but being in community can.

I learned that loving with walls up isn’t loving at all. That to be brave was letting go of reason and logic, and letting in potential greatness. I had to be willing to let my guard down and appreciate the support, rather than refuse it. I had to trust God and be confident in Him during my hesitation.

I had to learn to surrender to love. Surrendering isn’t a promise of everything we hope and dream for coming true. Instead, it’s a promise of God’s hopes and dreams for our life.

I would invite you to surrender where doubts or fears are dwelling in your life. Instead, open your heart and your door. Remember, we are not protecting ourselves when we don’t let the people who love us in. We are only protecting our pain.

Have you ever kept the people you love at a distance to protect yourself or them? What was the result?

Image via Elke Van De Velde, Darling Issue No. 21

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