See this picture?  This is real.  This is honest.  This is real honest!

IMG_1457And I’ll be even more honest…it’s a bit too real for me.  I don’t want to share this because I want you to believe that my home is beautiful and spotless at any given moment.  When you walk inside, I want my floors gleaming and my throw pillows placed just so on the sofa.  I want coffee ready to brew and freshly baked (non-burned) pumpkin muffins gracing my countertop.

I want my home to feel welcoming, and look Joanna Gaines worthy.

But that’s not real, is it?  Perhaps if we all had an Alice, (think Brady Bunch), to help us each day, it might be more doable, but since I don’t know anyone named Alice, I guess I can toss that shred of hope out the window.

Back to the closet.

This closet greets us as we walk in the door.  It’s the perfect dropping off spot for coats, shoes, umbrellas, and bookbags.  As soon as we walk inside, we can hang jackets on the provided hangers, put shoes on the provided shelves, hang bookbags on the provided hooks, and place umbrellas in the provided cubbies.  Then, we can close the door to our neat and tidy closet and proceed with our neat and tidy day.

Except that’s not real either.  That’s not honest.

The truth is in this picture.  We are obviously in a hurry, apparently thinking the shelves, baskets, hooks, and hangers are all just nice “accessories,” as we seemingly dump everything on the floor.  Combine that with the fact that my youngest gets in there looking for shoes, a ball, or a hat and turns everything topsy-turvy in the process, and it’s no wonder that despite my near-daily efforts to keep it clean, it feels like an uphill battle.

This morning, I looked with disdain at the mess and made a decision.  I pushed shoes with my foot and shoved the door firmly closed with my hand, hiding the mess from view.  As I did so, I couldn’t help but think about the state of my heart and the mess that often lives there.

Like my closet,  I often don’t want others to see my heart.  Do you feel the same way? At times, we may try to tidy up all of the hurts, fears, bitterness, loneliness, exhaustion, or depression we may find there.  But the mess seems to remain.  It’s worrisome and scary, so we push it down, close the door, and hide.

We bury it down in the deepest recesses of our soul.  We cover it up with a bright smile or a pleasing personality, a strong work ethic or a big bank account.  We use so much energy trying to keep all of the brokenness behind closed doors where others can’t see and, even more, perhaps we hope to ignore it ourselves.

But just as my closet has to be opened at times, so do our hearts.  And once that door is cracked, all of the junk begins spilling out.  All of the struggles we work so hard to conceal have a way of growing and multiplying when left unchecked, and as a result, they become harder to keep veiled.

The reality is this: the more I ignore my closet, the more the pile builds and the more the closet stinks. In like manner, the more we ignore our souls, the more worries fester, resentment builds, and burdens grow.

You know, sometimes I have to pull everything out of the closet, into the light, and start over.  I have to dump it all out and begin fresh.  When I do this, I often find some things I can throw away.  I also find shoes and jackets that don’t fit anymore; these I can share with others.  And of course, I find some things we can still use.

I only put back in what I know fits or helps us in some way.  I work through the rest.

IMG_1460We need to do the same with our hearts.  We need an honest evaluation, examining all the stuff inside even when it’s painful, even when it’s inconvenient.  And we need God’s help to do this. Sometimes we hold onto things, worries or fears, that are just junk.  We need to recognize this, toss them out, and not allow them to take up space in our soul.  Some things inside are so burdensome that we need to share them.  We need to pull them out into the light and allow someone else to help us carry the weight.  And some things we need to hold onto even if broken, because broken things, when healed, can indeed become beautiful.

My closet’s a mess today, but it doesn’t have to stay this way.

My heart may be a mess too, but it doesn’t have to stay this way either.

I can open the door and invite God in to take a look.  I can ask Him to help me sort through all of the stuff, surrendering it all to Him, and trusting that He makes all things beautiful.

It’s painful.  It’s time-consuming.  It’s hard.

But it is worth it.

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”


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