When I was a child, my two sisters and I would build the most spectacular blanket-forts the world has ever seen. Every possible blanket, sheet, cushion, and sleeping bag we could find was a resource used to convert our living room into our kingdom. When we would finish carefully constructing our rooms, we would gather other residents and have them join us in our blanket-laden abode. Stuffed animals and dolls would fill our space along with our rations for the day, namely Goldfish, Fruit Roll Ups, and other foods guaranteeing to sustain us. The lights would be diffused through our blanket roof and our world would then be sturdy enough for the responsibilities we had before us.
The kingdom sometimes needed our attention to watch the latest Disney masterpiece, and other days we had to care for the citizens of our space. We were always safe in the fort and the world belonged to us when we were inside. No one was able to conquer us when we were inside and no force was strong enough to tear down our walls… until the raging army of parenthood walked around our fort and called out “Dinner time!” That is when our kingdom crumbled. Like all other kingdoms in the world, ours was not eternal. We would eventually have to tear down our walls, dismiss the citizens to their homeland, and wait for the day when we could rebuild.
A while ago, a dear friend in my church was listening to me complain about the weird things happening in my head that I couldn’t seem to sort out. She told me that the thing I called “weird” was a cover-up for emotion. She said, “Allyson, I think that you believe emotions show weakness, and you believe this so deeply that you have begun to fear it and build up walls to protect yourself from being perceived as weak in your emotions.”
I guess I never really outgrew blanket-forts. My kingdom looks different today. It isn’t made of wool blankets and princess sleeping bags, my pets are not stuffed animals, and my food isn’t Fruit Roll Ups or Goldfish. My walls are made of a belief that I must always be strong, my pets are sins like believing that emotions are weak and wrong, and I feed myself with the lie that if I reveal my true struggles, God or others will not love me.
I love my blanket-fort so much. I refuse to tear it apart.
What I didn’t realize as a kid was that I would spend my whole life building temporal, faulty, cozy and soft kingdoms. For me, the biggest kingdom I have built is my deep-seated fear of emotional weakness. It has veering tunnels. It has secret passageways that I don’t even know exist. Each one is more void of light than the last.
We are always building blanket-forts. Here are some of the lies we might believe when we fear weakness:
1) We give partial or misleading answers to the questions people have about our feelings.
2) We suppress our feelings to God, others, and ourselves because we want to be perceived as “having it all together.”
3) We become impatient or apathetic with people who are hyper-emotional or tend to be driven by emotion.
4) If we struggle with depression or anxiety, we may have a deep fear of those times because it reveals that we actually don’t have stability in those moments.
5) We are driven to do things out of fear or control, not out of desire or enjoyment.
6) We desire to be recognized by others for our strength.
7) We may have a small vocabulary for our emotions and we’re not necessarily trying to expand it.
8) We portray our “weaknesses” in a way that actually makes it seem like we have them under control.
9) We like structure and consistency because it is in those environments that we think emotions won’t have the chance to seep in.
10) We may avoid deep interpersonal relationships so that we don’t have to deal with conflict, which would make us feel things.
If you find yourself resonating with these things, I want to remind you of the truth. You may not know how to navigate all the dark alleyways of your heart. You may be hiding in your fort because it’s familiar. But it gets cramped in there, doesn’t it? You know that you need a place to call home. I want to tell you about a better fort, and it’s not made of blankets. It has a better King. It is in this place that you can find hope. It’s the Kingdom of God and it will change your life if you belong to it.
Here’s why you should cozy-up in the Kingdom of God:
1) The Kingdom endures forever
No amount of building that I do in my blanket-fort kingdom will last. I will have walls that tumble because its foundation is not Christ. It will grow dark inside because I like to hide in my sin. The Kingdom of God, however, will not end (Daniel 2:44-45). When I trust that God’s kingdom is forever, I realize that I don’t need to strive to make my kingdom pristine or under control. My work becomes less about how much I can control and more about how I can serve the rightful King.
2) The Kingdom has a perfect King
Because of this, we can have confidence to destroy the kingdom we are trying to rule over. We are recognizing God’s rightful place as King, as one who makes a new home within us. We can trust that he is a better King than we are. He is the best example for how to kill our fear of weakness. He experienced the deepest emotions and let himself be perceived as weak by others. He was a silent lamb, not defending his case but humbling himself to death on a cross (Philippians 2:5-11). He is now able to empathize with our weakness and we would do well to remember that he is the Great High Priest, better than we could ever imagine (Hebrews 5:14-16).
There is no five-step process to giving up your blanket-fort building and learning to accept your weaknesses. The only hope is to surrender your ruling-rights to Jesus. Let him enter in, gut out your fort, and refurbish it all. Let him give you a new place to live.