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the real you


The real you is the "soil" that your life grows out of. This is your spiritual heart, the seat of your identity that carries who you truly are and were made by God to be. Your heart was made to produce the goodness of God; it is a life-giving spiritual organ.

How to talk to God about this: Father, Who am I, and why did you make me? Show me what good life I was designed and equipped by you to bear.


Have you ever hurt someone or been hurt by someone? Of course you have. Sin turns our hearts away from God and from each other. The lack of love in life is something our hearts immediately begin to learn as soon as we enter the world. The thorns in the painting represent the active, persistent pain your heart feels each time you sin or are sinned against, or simply by the effects of sin in your world. Since the real you was created to love and be loved by God, even as a very small child, sin felt painful in your life-giving heart. 

How to talk to God about this: Father, why does my heart hurt? Show me how you are moving towards that pain with an offer of healing.


After a while of being human, we all start to realize that no matter how hard we try, there are always more thorns springing up. The rocks represent condemnation from yourself or others when you sense shame because of the thorns that you are bearing.  Condemnation is the final word that speaks "failure" to our hearts. And the presence of sin (thorns) is a constant reminder that we have failed. The rocks are heavy and hard to move. They crush the living soil of your heart and make it impossible for anything to joyful or good to grow.

How to talk to God about this: Father, how do you see me? I want to believe you have not condemned me. Show me what Jesus can do to clear the rocks out of my soul.

barbed wire

When we live with pain and condemnation alone, we learn ways of keeping people far away from us. Our heart becomes inaccessible to others, and we hold people out to protect ourselves from further pain or condemnation. Barbed wire is hard to get through, and it screams, "stay out!" People start to get the message that we're fine without their love and care, so they stop giving it. This hurts even worse. The spikes on the barbed wire are just as painful to our own hearts as they are to the ones who try to come near - but we've put them there. We can't escape.


How to talk to God about this: Jesus, are you strong enough to move past my prickly wall of self-protection? Show me that you love me enough to do so. And send another human being to try again.


After a while, we want to cover the mess and just look new and normal. We hear people saying, "get your act together" and we decide they're right. So we start doing good things, being a good person, but in defiance and self-hatred. This is like heaping a load of dirt over the top of all the pain to cover it up and just appear “okay.” This isn't really solving the problem, because down under that dirt (that isn't our own soil) there are still thorns, rocks, and wire keeping love from coming in or going out. We hate what lies beneath the surface, and we've all but forgotten the soil that is really alive. Nothing’s really growing, and our heart hurts!


How to talk to God about this: Father, do you just want me to fake this forever? Show me how to unbury the shame and let you make me truly right again!


All the good behavior in the world can’t produce real joy or freedom, and the longer we live and the harder we try, we find things still aren't getting that much better. We get exhausted. We need relief, so we make permanent or life-altering vows, decisions, or compromises to just end the process of pain. Pouring "concrete" looks like settling for "I guess this is as good as it gets" and taking control to keep things stable as they are.


How to talk to God about this: Holy Spirit, show me how to let you break through the concrete of my heart and renew what is living in me! I don't want to be buried for the rest of my life under the weight of my own control.

living water

The one who created you is also the source of life that you need to live the life you were meant to live. He is living water - his life never runs dry and it's always fresh. Even when you've covered your heart with so many layers, and can barely see the fruit you were meant to produce, his living water is down below the surface of everything, ready to spring up and wash away the rocks and thorns and barbed wire and break through the layers of religious dirt and concrete emotions to let real beauty surface from the deep places of who you are. 

How to talk to God about this: Holy Spirit, I welcome you to flood my heart with your presence and love. I know this will disturb all the ways I've made myself strong, but it's not working. I want to live again. 


When we build our lives ​on a hard surface of concrete, all we get is more hard things, the works of our own hands. But when we live from the heart by the love of God, our life becomes increasingly fuller and fuller with living things. Nothing can substitute for the living beauty of real joy, hope, love, friendship, forgiveness, and laughter that comes from real people living as they were made to live. Open your heart to the love of God and watch to see what grows from you naturally, just because you are being you.

How to talk to God about this: Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit, show me the life I was meant to live and the love I was meant to receive and give in the world.

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