“I will walk with you in complete freedom, for I seek to follow your every command.”Psalm 119:45 TPT
Thoughts of rejection and questioning my worth had been surfacing in my mind. Tired of feeling unwanted and broken, I landed on the blue sofa in my pastor’s office. He leaned in and listened to my story. When my words ran dry, he responded, “I think there are stones in your heart that need to come out. Like a pebble in the shoe, they’re unnoticeable until they move. If you step on them, it hurts and causes a reaction.”
“Stones? I…I don’t understand. I don’t feel any hardness or anger toward people who have hurt me,” I said.
“You can forgive someone, which is important. But forgiving doesn’t always heal the injuries they left behind, which can harden pieces of your heart,” he explained. Although I didn’t fully grasp his response, I agreed to follow along.
Pastor guided me through a prayer acknowledging the wounds wrenching my heart. As we pushed forward, I felt the Holy Spirit reveal some of the trauma buried in my soul. Images of past hurts came to mind and their connections to my current struggles. Pain I never knew existed poured out in hot tears. In the end it seemed like Jesus had reached in, pulled out rocks, and tossed them away. God’s acceptance washed over me. Wholeness warmed through my heart.
Painful past experiences can create wounds in the soul. These hurts can become like rocks in our hearts that cause sharp reactions when touched by conversations or events. Like me, many people have recurring emotions of rejection and unworthiness. These feelings are often triggered by reactions to hidden hurts. Triggers typically result from past traumatic events1 that produce intense emotional responses.2 Common reactions may be feelings of abandonment, betrayal, or insecurity.3 These emotions can rob our peace and jerk away our joy. They also have an impact on our relationship with God. Stones in the soul can block truth from taking root and producing evidence of God’s love in our lives.
The weeks before the meeting with my pastor had been tumultuous. It hadn’t been the first time I struggled with negative emotions, but they seemed to have increased. Feelings of being unloved, unwanted, and unworthy rumbled unidentified below the surface. Certain situations sent unexpected shock waves through my heart. A kid’s complaint over dinner, my husband’s unintentional negligence, and a friend’s off-comment all set off exaggerated reactions. Thoughts that I knew to be untrue rifted through my mind, no matter how hard I tried to hold the pieces together. All the while – and possibly the worst part – I struggled to receive the encouragement of the Holy Spirit. Exasperated at my desk one afternoon, I cried and said, “Lord, I need you to heal and deliver me. I can’t go on like this.” This plea landed me on my pastor’s sofa a few days later. The Lord began to teach me about removing the rocks from my heart.
The patio and the breeze made a perfect setting as I slid open my Bible one morning and turned to Mark 4:1–9. As I read, I pictured the waves of the Galilean Sea lapping on the beach. Jesus stood in a boat and spoke to the crowd on the hillside. “Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed.” The audience nodded regarding the familiarity of his story. “Some of the seed fell on a footpath and the birds came and ate it.” They squinted at the gulls swarming overhead. “Other seed fell on the shallow soil with underlying rock.” Some of the crowd lifted their feet to reveal black stones below. “The seed sprouted quickly…but the plant soon wilted under the hot sun and since it didn’t have deep roots, it died.”
The farmers groaned. “You have to remove the rocks first,” one of them shouted.
Jesus continued, “Other seed fell among thorns that choked out the plants so they produced no grain.” The group inched away from the six-foot thistle weeds on the hillside. “Still other seed fell on fertile soil… and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted.” Families smiled at the thought of an abundant harvest season. Then Jesus closed his story with an authoritative statement: “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”4
As Jesus taught what we now call the parable of the sower, the types of soils in his story represented four conditions of the heart. The seed symbolized the Word of God. He explained these heart conditions to his disciples privately.
Although Jesus unpacked each soil type, it was the second that moved me the most. God’s Word seeps down into our soul, but embedded stones restrict truth from growing deep roots. These rocks are often harmful thoughts that stemmed from past pain. You’re not good enough. People will hurt you. Why doesn’t anyone want me? These thoughts can all be stones in the heart. Jesus wants the life-giving Word to develop a harvest of hope in us.
The Lord longs for us to thrive in his freedom instead of developing roots crowded with regrets. His desires are echoed in Psalm 1:
“What delight comes to the one who follows God’s ways!… His passion is to remain true to the Word of ‘I Am…’ He will be standing firm like a flourishing tree planted by God’s design, deeply rooted by the brooks of bliss…”Psalm 1:1-3 TPT
The time has come for God’s people to live healed, healthy, and hopeful. Let us surrender the condition of our soul to the Lord. Ask him to reveal any hurts and hindrances that reside beneath the surface. Sometimes a conversation with a pastor, friend, or counselor may lead us to healing. Love, joy, and peace will bloom as Scripture sinks deep and develops roots.
- “Identifying Emotional Triggers: Common Triggers and What They Mean,” Port St. Lucie Hospital, May 7, 2021, https:// www.portstluciehospitalinc.com/ identifying-emotional-triggers-common-triggers-what-they-mean/.
- Crystal Raypole, “How to Identify and Manage Your Emotional Triggers,” Healthline, November 13, 2020, https://www.healthline.com/health/ mental-health/emotional-triggers#finding-yours.
- Raypole, “How to Identify and Manage Your Emotional Triggers.”
- Adapted from Mark 4:1–9 (NLT).