If you’re trying to clean your room, you start by picking up the clutter, then you can sweep the last of the dust. It’s layers.
You also have to identify what the clutter is. Sometimes, when you pick up all the things that don’t belong in that room it doesn’t mean its trash. It may just be misplaced in where it should be kept. Like legos on the coffee table or shoes in the kitchen for example. Or, for this analogy – an emotion -let’s say anger.
I think it’s absolutely human to feel anger but how long you store it and where you put it and who sees it can make it quickly become a bad thing. No one is perfect and you can’t be rainbows and sunshine all the time, but where anger should be directed and when to let it go can be hard to know.
When I walk my boys to school I can’t help but notice that many neighbors in suburbia leave garage doors open on occasion. My, what stories they can tell. There’s this one neighbor who looks like they were waiting to be on the show Hoarders. Piled to the ceiling are masses of unsealed boxes, exercise equipment, clothes, books – so chaotic- and it’s been like that since we moved here months ago! Landscaping is unkempt and older cars dominate what little driveway there is so we have to walk out to the street to cross around the blocked sidewalks. I always think to myself that their life must be so cluttered and sad. That is so much weight to carry. I pray they are freed within their rubble one day.
Two doors down is a garage so spotless, they must mop the floor. I doubt they even put cars in there. I think, wow, not even a bottle of Armor All or a lawnmower? Anything? Is this place vacant? Does anyone exist here?
How uniquely different yet so close we are to each other shows just how much diversity we truly exist in.
I had an “aha” moment when I was at Emmaus last month and again, the analogy of realization was directed at home décor and repurposing. I don’t know why I do that!
I went there with little expectation other than to release a lot of anger that was spilling into the joyful rooms of my life. I knew I had to get over a lot of clutter and although I believe I am a very forgiving person, my motivation to stay mad was because I knew the specific people would not be changing their behaviors any time soon so the cycle would always continue. I was tired. I still am in a lot of ways. I viewed my anger like waterboarding. A constant drip that just kept going even though I thought I had tried everything to make it go away.
That pain didn’t get repaired at Emmaus. The repair went much deeper past the agonizing drip of what I deemed as a broken relationship forever. I received much more than I ever thought I needed.
I’ve spent much of my life cleaning. Cleaning up after myself and pretty much anyone else around me. I’d always take care of as much as physically possible because A) it’s my nature to please others and B) I lost a lot of faith in people and keeping your word. Rather than be let down by poor follow through and half-baked intention, I decided I would just run the ship and not have to deal with disappointment. Plus it keeps me busy and in control.
I let it interfere with the simple joys and blessings that were present with me, and that caused more resentment because I could clearly identify that it was happening. I am fairly good at pointing out clutter in myself and others and can figure it out fairly easy. Until now I realized I was missing a big step though.
So Emmaus happened.
It truly was miraculous how it all came together. It was the last night there, right before bed. It was an epiphany.
God was this gorgeous chair in my home. I knew it was there, even sat in it a few times and remember each time fondly. I kept it out of the way, like on the front porch so to speak, so it didn’t get over used in case one day I really needed it. I made it a pedestal to adore rather than a comfortable chair to relax in.
I always felt I prayed and believed. But I was so used to taking care of everything that when something personal for me was needed, I’d let Him know I’d take care of it and not to worry about me. I would never ask for anything for myself because I always wanted to save up my requests for when I really needed them, like if one of my children got sick or my husband was hurt. “I’ve got this on my own” seems to be my mantra for everything – and always had been.
I would tell myself there were so many others who needed Him more than me. Like sitting at an intersection and letting everyone else pass first or holding the door for someone and then a whole line shows up so you just smile and keep holding that door. That’s how I roll. I don’t ask for help and usually justify why I don’t need any help and push myself to get off my sorry butt and get ‘er done.
I realized that it’s ok to not have all the answers and ask for guidance every now and then. And even if I didn’t need it, just stop on in anyway and say thanks for everything. Relax in that comfy chair and calm down and breathe.
I left Emmaus with full awareness of everything around me. I know that I have a lot more power than I realized and it was because I can take my strength, my gifts, my influence and use it with God as a team rather than as a performance– and not leave him on the porch for emergencies or adoration.
Together the power is insurmountable and I can face stress, co-workers, disappointment and rather than wear myself down, I can be the example and learn how to learn from it and then cast it out of my life, and hopefully inspire others, too.
The chair is in the center of my house now. I even see my family starting to enjoy it as well. And the clutter seems much smaller and manageable. It seems I have to dust a little less too- but the dust still settles. It has to.
And the figurative analogy of a chair doesn’t stop there. It’s that fancy night gown or pair of heels that you’re saving for a rainy day. Wear it and dance. Nothing can go with you from this world but the memories you cherish and the love you’ve given to others. So put on those heels.
The one thing that makes me chuckle to myself is that I feel everything is truly genuine. I’m not going to start whipping out verses of the Bible at people, preach “at” others or change who I am. I am me. I want to stay me. I didn’t feel converted, culted or pressured and I certainly don’t feel anyone in this world is better than me or closer to God than me. I won’t judge anyone (even the people with the packed garage). But I do know this. I will be an example. I with love with all my heart. I will share anything that wants to be heard. I will not ever let anyone make me feel inferior or regretful for my pain or my past and one day I will lead.
Since Emmaus, I feel lighter. Brighter. And more confident. Everyone who knew me before will certainly still connect with me now. They’ll just feel a little warmer when I’m around.