Kristen Reyna – Freedom

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After a devastating blow left me reeling and picking up the pieces of my life, I willingly became a guarded “No” girl. Life looked a little something like this: “No, I can’t make it, but thanks for the invitation.” “I’m sorry, but I just can’t.” And my all-time favorite, “You’re sweet to think of me,” my implied “No.” 

I said, “No,” just about every way imaginable. It became my way of protecting myself. If I didn’t spend time getting to know someone, it wouldn’t hurt quite as much when they betrayed me or when they moved on. If I didn’t show you who I was, you couldn’t hurt me. If I didn’t share my hopes and dreams or even my fears and failures, you would never know who I really was and therefore, you couldn’t hurt me.

I was convinced my walls were my protection, my fortress, and I was convinced those walls had the ability to spare me from any vulnerability and subsequent pain.

As it turns out, pain happens on both sides of the prison walls, whether in prison or free. Pain is simply a part of living. What I built in my attempt to guard myself was never a fortress of protection, although it brought temporary comfort in the beginning. 

Instead of a fortress offering protection and safety, what I actually built was a prison around my own heart. In trying to keep everyone out and protect myself from pain, I locked myself away. In reality, I wasn’t protecting the very heart I longed to guard.

Soon bondage took residence where freedom belonged. Not only saying “No,” when someone came dangerously close, I even set land mines miles away to protect myself from a sneak attack that might lead to my unguarded heart. 

Two years ago, I began to recognize that pain was still seeping in despite my guarded efforts, and I came to understand it’s inevitability. A year ago I decided to stage a full blown prison break.

With gut-wrenching effort and the wise counsel of a trusted friend, I grew to understand that pain is where the growth happens. With vulnerability comes freedom. My walls slowly began to crack. Let me tell you, it was a disastrously messy tear-down! But once I tasted freedom, life was never the same again.

In all honesty, the work never ends, it just starts to look different. Just this morning, I recognized an area of my heart where I unknowingly started rebuilding a wall, a place where I subtly began to choose false protection over vulnerability and courageous freedom. Freedom tastes so deliciously sweet that it’s well worth the work. No level of freedom comes without sacrifice.

I’m no longer a “No” girl. I accept the opportunity to share my heart willingly and often. Giving love away in transparency and vulnerability means walking in pure freedom for me. This doesn’t mean it’s easy or without pain, but freedom requires sacrifice. Walking in freedom gives respect and honor to the sacrifices I made to get to this healthy place. These days, I’m embracing being a “Yes!” girl, learning to navigate this newfound freedom and enjoying the process. 

Kristen Reyna, columnist and “Yes!” girl

(This “Yes!” girl shares her vulnerability journey over at The Authenticity Project, and she would love to hug your neck over at

You can read Kristen’s first CSTN column here:


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