Occasionally, little one peeks out and interacts with the wide world around her, but she is always careful. She doesn't want anyone to see her or hear her. She doesn't want to be noticed. If people know she is there, they might stop loving her, they might stop liking her. She knows she wants more, but she's scared to step out and say, "Here I am, world! I am marvellous! Love me, cherish me, nurture me! I am your child! Care for me and protect me, for I am divinely made, perfect in every way!"
In fact, she doesn't really believe any of that to be true. She thinks herself dirty and soiled and is grateful for any scrap of attention, however slight and fleeting, that she may receive, even when the circumstances are a lie. She knows herself to be unworthy of more, believes she ought to have less, and hates herself for her own misery. If only she could be better - more productive, nicer, more studious, more religious, more political, more, more, more...but she isn't and no matter what she does it's never enough.
She begins to find more like herself, and reaches out to them, wanting to be loved and cherished the way they love and cherish each other. Slowly she unravels the walls, bit by bit, piece by piece, to create a window to her soul. She doesn't remove the walls, but she thins them out. She has hope for the first time that she might find acceptance for who she is.
A moment of pure despair, poured out to the group.
Rejection. They spurn her entirely, refusing her any contact whatsoever.
The window to the soul becomes a gaping wound and she determines never to open up again. If those who are like her can't even find it in them to love her, it is clear that no one ever will. She will have to content herself with superficial friendships and give up on the hope of ever having more.
Time goes by. Friendships end, others form. Seasons change and the world marches on. She learns to be content for the most part, but is never fully happy. She knows what she is doing is unhealthy, but she can't stop herself from digging deeper and deeper into her hole. She picks up bad habits and cares less and less that they are killing her one step at a time.
Then, miracle of miracles, someone finds the crack in her shell and burrows in. She's surprised, scared, unsure. What will happen? She doesn't know what to do. She takes a chance and makes a leap of faith, certain all the time that she's making the biggest mistake of her life. She lands in supportive arms, loving arms, arms that embrace and cherish.
They are not arms that can fill every void, but they are arms that provide hope. Perhaps these arms, too, will fade in time. Perhaps they will go the way of the other arms, the other people who've shown her love only to turn and leave her bleeding, alone, and broken. But perhaps, just perhaps, these arms can nudge her in a better direction, point her towards other arms that can carry the burden of supporting the broken little one who yearns for their guidance, support, and their love.