Strong. Resilient. Warrior. Roaring. Lioness. This is how I would love to be seen.
Terrified. Weak. Safe behind the layers and layers of shell I have built up. Voiceless. Turtle. This is the reality of who I am.
I would rather see life through the opening of my shell. I would rather hide than love. The agony of abandonment and the depression of dependence are too risky. I would rather walk about trapped in the mass of bandages and live life as a mummy than expose my wounds and walk around raw and vulnerable. Vulnerability is terrifying. The seclusion of my shell, safe and secure from all outside harm. Hidden. Lifeless. Loveless.
But what would happen if a turtle remained in her shell all the time? Never coming out for air. Never coming out for nourishment. She would surely die. Choked out within the “security” of her shell. She would draw so far back into herself she would no longer be a turtle, but purely shell. Her identity lost. Her life pointless. Her defense her death.
This turtle’s shell once choked her out. March 10 of this year I woke up with my throat swollen shut. Unable to swallow. Unable to speak. My security was choking me out. My body was fighting my shell resulting in a mass infection accumulating at the back of my throat. Within the depths of my being, in the darkest corners of my heart I was screaming to be released, to be heard, to be freed, but that meant allowing myself to be exposed. It meant leaving my shell which was not an option. Never before had I wanted to scream so badly than when I lacked the physical ability to do so. My voice was robbed of me. My shell was killing me.
But in losing my voice, I found my roar.
The two surgeries to remove the growth and infection from the back of my throat began a journey to healing, redemption, and a quest to find the roar gone dormant within me. The years and years worth of bandages were ripped away. Wounds were ripped raw. Shame was uncovered. Surrender rather than security dominated my existence.
It was in surrendering the security of my shell and crawling out of the darkness and into the light, weaknesses exposed that I began to breathe again. I cried. I raved. I raged. I ranted. I screamed. I bled. I used my voice.
My desperate cries for help reached the Throne of Mercy and the Lover of my soul encountered my blubbering, broken, bloodied, brazen self. In complete brokenness the Creator of the World held me, found me, loved me, fought for me, redeemed me, strengthened me, commissioned me. My roar was swelling within.
I am strong. I am victorious. I am free. I am healed. I am no longer captive to the pain, shame, and darkness of the past. I am worthy of love. I am pure. I am redeemed. I am safe in surrender.
My shell will no longer define me. My roar will. Like Simba, I was taught to roar by my Father, who just happens to be the Lion of Judah.
His roar is mighty. His roar is timeless. His roar resounds through the ages. His roar heals. His roar beckons. His roar awakens.
Each day I have to choose between my shell and my roar. I will allow myself to be known. I will allow myself to be heard. I will allow myself to feel.
I will roar.
“At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more, When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death, And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.” – The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, C. S. Lewis
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.” -Hosea 2:14
“The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.” -Psalm 28:7