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I looked at the path behind me, marveling at my vantage point.

“Look!” I exclaimed to him. “There’s where I stumbled and fell and was hurt.” I thought about the pain from that memory. “I didn’t think I would ever recover from that.”

My companion glanced my way nodding at a stone at the base of my temporary shelter. “Have you?” He asked.

“Have I what?” My face grew hot, knowing my pretense doesn’t work with Him.

“Recovered.” He knelt down and inspected the stone carefully.

“And there!! That’s where I tried to love her and was rejected.”

He shuffled sideways to inspect another stone.

“And there...and there...and there...I was betrayed by people I loved and I thought were supposed to love me.”

He rose and came to my side. “Yes. I remember.”

“You remember? You weren’t there!” I moved away from Him.

“Yes I was. But you couldn’t see me.”

“Then why didn’t you stop them?” I whispered.

He diverted my attention to the stone fortress surrounding me.

“Do you like it here? You’ve been here for a while. Do you have peace and joy here?”

I smiled at Him and opened my mouth to speak. But the look in His eyes compelled me to tell the truth.

“I am alone. No one understands me or this...” I swung my hands around gesturing towards the stones. I took a deep breath. “I am safe.”

“Safe from what? Love?”

My shoulders fell, dejected. “I’ve tried. I’ve given everything to them. I’ve worked to be a good representation of love. But I’m still alone.”

“Then why don’t you stop?”

“What? Stop loving? Stop giving?”

“No,” he said quietly. “Stop trying to earn their love.”

“I can’t do that! Then whatever scraps they throw me will disappear! I won’t have anything!”

He looked around my refuge. “You built this you know.”

“What? I haven’t been here before! This is just my resting place for a while.”

“No, it’s not. It’s your walls, your prison - built with your hands. You’ve carried it with you.”

I shook my head. “No!”

“Yes, sweetheart. You built this.”

“It’s safe.”

“It’s lonely. You put every single stone in this place with your own hands. See those stones? Those are when you were betrayed. See that one? Neglect. And that one? Abuse.”

He gently took my hand to the other side to point out the doorway. “Look this way. What do you see?”

I gasped at the colors as far as I could see. “Was this always here? Why haven’t I seen it before?”

“You were always focused on where you’ve been.” He motioned with his head towards the other side. “You couldn’t see this because you wanted to remember past hurts and betrayals. That gave you permission in your heart to stay here.”

“But why would I want to stay here? It’s beautiful out there!”

He smiled and said, “Then come with me.”

I drew back in fear, suddenly trembling at the thought. “But what if...?”

I looked at his piercing eyes, and my courage and confidence grew. Quietly I whispered, “How do I do this? What should I do? He drew me into his arms and held me tightly. “You have to believe the truth. I am... nothing like them,” he lifted my gaze and turned my head to where I’d come from. “And you are not that person any longer either.”

I felt the truth of His words deep in my bones.

I took the first step out the door.

“What is that... what is that scent?”

“Freedom,” He shouted as He grabbed my hand.


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