I don't recall learning to read, but I know I was still pretty young when I first started retreating to my room to read. I remember Robinson Crusoe, The Chronicles of Narnia, and A Wrinkle In Time, looking up words in my paperback dictionary, and basically sealing my fate as a book nerd for the rest of my life. It didn't help that I was musical and played piano.
Soon, I realized just how different I was. And so began the defending.
Now I know it isn't unusual. The natural world is not always hostile, but it isn't protective either, and everyone and everything is compelled by their vulnerabilities to require defenses, shelter, and security to ward off the assaults of the environment and attackers. We vary in degrees of sensitivity, but even naturally tough people (and extroverts!) need protected space.
Frank Peretti's The Wounded Spirit has helped many people learn to value themselves again. Elaine Arron's identifying "highly sensitive" people has also provided tools for defense. But then a couple I've known my entire life, two lifelong friends of my parents' and now mine, helped me understand bonding and attachment and I was able to acquire and edit their books for WaterBrook Press. If you're a human, and you'd like to know how humans work, I believe you'll find their help some of the best that money can buy.
I was still young when I realized that great books can be like theirs–life-changing treasure maps built of a lifetime (several lifetimes) of knowledge, wisdom and refinement. And one of the greatest advantages of our modern age is that these treasure maps are very nearly, or at least right up next to being, absolutely free.
Do we realize how lucky we are in the history of the human race?
Well, no. Most people don't. Because we have never known different. I imagine the kids born into this information superstore and I wonder how they're going to value anything. Thankfully, new sensitive people are born every day, book readers and idea-seekers, and there are still some adults engaging to help guide them.
But being married to another extremely sensitive book nerd and pianist, we have two fairly different kids. I watch them grow and I don't think they'll struggle too much to let people in. They're confident that though their feelings and thoughts might be different, they're valuable and important to share. I wonder if this means they won't be writers. I'd be okay with that. At 5 and 8, they do really love books, so you never know.
But all of this is rattling around in my cranium this morning, thinking about letting people in and how that can be such a struggle for anyone, especially if you've been hurt for it. And most have. Writers are those who are compelled to fight back. And somewhere in the midst of writing down the words, the truth emerges, and we see a bit more of who we really are, and who everyone really is. And that makes the world look a bit brighter. A bit more promising of wonder, beauty and joy.
So fight on today, friend! Be brave and drop the shield. Write into the heart of the fear and don't ever doubt the wisdom of letting them in. It's for your own good, too, after all.