Choose Where You Break Down: In the Field or the Fortress

In May 2023, my family faced one of our hardest battles yet. With no warning, we were thrown into a painful situation that has wrecked so many hearts. But on the heels of confusion and sorrow came revelation. 

Here’s what I discovered in this season: You can choose where you let it out.

I’m not talking about where in terms of physical location. This is not a “hold it together at work and fall apart at home” message. I’m saying there is nothing wrong with tears and tissues and questions and sobs and a bit of yelling IF you do it in the the right spiritual place. 

Imagine with me for a moment. In the last few weeks, I pictured two places: a field and a fortress. In both imaginary locations, I was the same—a curled up ball of tears—but my surroundings made a world of difference in how I came through that bout of sorrow.

In the field, I was exposed. Scratchy, dead grass surrounded me. Vultures circled, and a creature prowled nearby.

…be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour.
1 Peter 5:8 AMPC

That field was not a safe place for me to proverbially fall apart. The devil is just waiting for believers to let a tragedy derail them so completely that they cast aside caution and collapse in a mental state of fear, isolation, and doubt.

Good news! There’s a better way to handle these moments. And it isn’t holding it all together.

Let it out in the fortress, the cleft of the rock, the high place, the strong tower. These are all pictures of God given to us in the Bible for just this kind of moment. 

The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
The righteous run to it and are safe.

Proverbs 18:10

For in the day of trouble
    he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
    and set me high upon a rock.

Psalm 27:5

…When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Psalm 61:2

He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge…

Psalm 91:4

Knowing the field was the wrong place to curl up and cry, I imagined a fortress with thick stone walls and a high tower. I pictured myself exactly as I was in the field, curled up and sobbing. But this time, I was crouched behind a strong wall. Around me, archers fought the battle I was too weak to join. And that was fine because their shields were sufficient. I knew that in their seasons of sorrow, I would be the one engaged in the fight while they sat down and let their hearts heal.

We can’t always be strong, and God doesn’t ask us to. He does paint a picture in His Word of where we should go when we can’t fight anymore, when we can’t hold our own head up, when we need to let the vulnerabilities out. We go to the High Place.

I know. It’s a lovely mental image, but what does that actually mean?

Ground yourself. When you’re blindsided and can’t hold on anymore, get your mind fixed on the Truth of God’s utter protection around you—then let go.

Before you bawl or scream or punch a pillow, take ten seconds to picture yourself in the safety of His presence. Know—deep, in your very core—that you are not the prey of the enemy. You are not lion food! Process your emotions with your mind firmly planted in that safe space.

There’s no shame in letting yourself be vulnerable, as long you do it in the Fortress of the Most High.