The book said so, right there in black and white. “Feedings should occur every three hours – no more, no less – whether or not the baby is sleeping or hungry.” Susan was born to zealous parents in the 1930’s who hoped to shape their baby girl into a predictable child using advice from a popular child psychologist. They would raise Susan by the book - literally.
In the months that followed, creative little Susan had other ideas while her well-meaning mother persisted in forcing her into a mold. At times, Susan’s pleading cries of dissatisfaction seemed frantic. At other times, she distanced herself – drawing comfort from seclusion. By the time her first birthday rolled around, Susan had become a conformist. But inwardly she cowered, not knowing why her world demanded and denied so much.
The vine’s tendrils reached here and there, searching tentatively for a tiny crack. There…such a small crevice really, hardly distinguishable. And yet the fissure provided a chance for the vine to grasp…and then seize… her heart.
The tip of the vine remained poised, waiting for an opportunity. “There it is! I see…her heart is cracked, right there. Ahhhh, such a small thing, really. But I can always count on the Father of Lies to prepare the way for his vines! Pain…and doubt…have chiseled this crack.” The crafty vine waved a curvy tendril and then penetrated the crevice. It’s name? Self-centeredness.
Susan grew to become a beautiful, rosy-cheeked toddler. Her smiles reflected a sweet and candid playfulness. Her parents did not know, however, that other important childlike attributes were missing. Instead of cultivating innocence and confidence, waves of mistrust buffeted Susan’s heart. She was often inwardly tense and worried, fearful that her needs might not be met – or that demands would overwhelm her.
When a little sister came along, Susan felt she had to fight to defend her territory. Would she be the object of her parents’ attention, or would little Erin steal the show?
"That’s right Susan, don’t share the attention that is rightfully yours! You are prettier than she is! You deserve more than she does!” The vine drove tendrils of independence and resolve deeper into her heart. “Stand up for yourself! Guard your rights!”
The Father of Lies continued to plant more seeds of falsehood that grew similar vines: anxiety and fear. Susan’s circumstances supported these falsehoods, making them even more believable. They matured to eventually choke her heart with their binding deceptions.
“You are beautiful, but not beautiful enough to be appreciated just as you are. You must guard yourself for fear of being exposed. Because…you are unworthy of love.”
* * * * *
Over many decades Susan evolved into a fragile, lonely, anxious old woman. She lived without God, husband, family, or direction. Her friend Janet repeatedly tried to address the root cause of Susan’s issues: separation from God. However, Susan was never willing to entertain a conversation about spiritual things.
“The Father of Lies has used his vines of deceit to choke and strangle her. Now her heart is bound; there is no hopeful pulse left, only “getting by.” Fear is in control. Our goal has been met!” The gnarled vines mocked Janet’s vision for healing.
One afternoon after a telephone conversation with Susan, Janet found herself hunched on the floor with her head in her hands, weeping. “Lord – oh Lord! You alone can release Susan from those confining lies! God! The agony of it all! She is so emotionally crippled, so vulnerable. And yet, she thinks she must be independent and face everything alone! She doesn’t know she was created for relationship with You, and that You work through us to minister to each other! I beg You - free her from those lies! They only bind her heart like vines, growing inward and crippling it! Lord, they seem to have broken her heart into pieces; she is a shattered woman.”
“Mind your own business! Who do you think you are, anyway?”
The vines seemed to shout across the miles from Susan’s house. Janet spoke out loud with authority. “I rebuke you, in the name of Jesus! I am my Father’s child, washed the blood of the Lamb! Release Susan!”
At the Lord’s initiation, Janet rose confidently to her feet, picked up the phone, and ordered a bouquet of flowers to be sent to Susan’s house. “Wildflowers, please, nothing formal…a loose arrangement...well yes…it should feel…FREE.”
“Buckle down…it’s an attack…can’t seem to hold on…the heartbeat…her heart is stronger…oh no…our worst nightmare…hope…”
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