Living Unlocked.


I have never lived alone before now.

This new season of coming home alone is unusual to my over-social personality. I leave the light on in the kitchen always because coming home to an empty house is weird enough, empty and dark would just be too much.

I feel an extra weight of pressure to keep my home secure. Something about not having another person inside makes me feel more susceptible to danger, even in the best of neighborhoods.

The simple solution to my anxiety is to lock up in every possible way. Coming home, then, requires a meticulous undoing of all the guards I have established to “protect me.” One night last week as I unhooked the gate at the top of the driveway, unlocked the two locks on the bottom door, and ascended the stairs to two more sturdy locks, an unexpected thought ran through my mind:

“It’s okay for your home, Jenn, but not for your heart.”

Woah. “Where did that come from?” I probed my own mind. And again the whisper, “It’s okay for your home but not for your heart.”

Vulnerability has never been my strong suit or my default. I’ve never been the one who gushed over crushes or swooned over handsome actors. I was the one who denied having a crush on my first boyfriend until we sat across from each other on a bench at the nearby elementary school and he told me he wanted to date me. Once it was safe, I was all in. But until then? Fort Knox over here.

Even as an adult, I have to constantly fight the tendency to wall up and shut down when things hurt me, or when unexpected feelings reign disruptively in my heart. My mind knows it’s a dangerous way to live. My mind knows it doesn’t foster healing or freedom. But even still, my heart locks up.

And though I know it’s not the healthiest, it is painfully easy to live that way – to live locked up. It’s easy to sift through experiences and feelings and ideas and decide what can be accessed by anyone and what will stay far beyond the reach of all who may desire to go beyond the surface. It’s easy to brush past inquiring questions and easier still to navigate a simple response that reveals nothing of our true feelings.

But as the Spirit so gently spoke over me that night: what’s right for our possessions isn’t always right for our wellbeing. And living with your heart on lockdown doesn’t actually protect you.

The paradox of safety is that locking up isn’t what we want in the depth of our hearts. We want to be known. We want to be loved. We want to be fought for. What is safe is the commitment to risk. What’s risky is the false security of living locked up.

Unlocking is worth the risk because risk is the safest way to live. {Side note: “safe” as in – best for your heart, even when it’s risky & hard. I assume we all rest in the promise that our God isn’t safe, per se. But He’s good, He’s the King.}  Unlocking prizes community, and messiness, and life lived in circles full of the ones we love.

Living unlocked matters. It matters for your family and your spouse. It matters for your dating relationships. It matters for the people you invest in and seek to do life with. It matters to live unlocked because vulnerability begets vulnerability, and true vulnerability invites freedom. And don’t we want to be free?

I do.

I want to live in freedom and invite others to do the same. And so I’m resolving to fight my tendency to lock up. I’m resolving to lock the doors of my house, but to unlock the doors of my heart, trusting that those who enter will sharpen, challenge, and urge me closer to the King – the One in whose presence I so long to abide.