Cleaning out closets is never my favorite pastime. Unfortunately, I like the results without the work that goes into it. I have a family and not too many opportunities to have hours at a time to tackle such projects. If you’ve ever gotten a sudden motivation to take on a chore like this, you know that’s it’s “now or never.” So this was the week and I made it happen (i.e. I hurried!). I’m always hesitant because I’m a sentimental person and don’t want to donate/sell things or I’m admittedly emotional when I find something that I’ve not seen in awhile.
I literally took everything out of my closet…. including jewelry. There’s a shelf that wraps around the top of my closet where I keep seasonal items I’m not wearing. I dust mopped the floors and then stepped on a chair to dust the shelf. There it was…. I knew in the back of my mind that I’d put the necklaces up there, but had forgotten. Several months had probably passed. There was the gold coin necklace my late Grandaddy had given me when I was young and it was irreversibly tangled with two other necklaces that I liked. The other two weren’t sentimental, but I didn’t want to ruin them OR the special necklace… so I had just settled on them being permanently intertwined.
Determined I was going to “fix” this mess, I began to try and untangle the three necklaces with my fingers… it was hard to tell one from the other except that the gold necklace had a gleam the other “costume” necklaces lacked. Oh, I tried. Actually, I had almost decided to leave them that way (pretty silly, huh?). I just thought I could save all three. After about one minute of this, I realized that I was wasting my time. I was going to have to take extreme measures. Cue the scissors.
As I began cutting away everything that WASN’T the special necklace, so many different things came to mind. I realized that God works in similar ways. We hold onto things that don’t matter, similar to my costume jewelry, and forget about what’s important… just like my precious gold necklace. And what’s REAL gets tangled, so to speak. Sometimes we decide to “let go” and cull what’s holding us back ourselves, but sometimes God orchestrates this cutting away… and it’s unpleasant.
I only have worth if my house is clean, I have to ALWAYS be my best at my job, my kids need to be______, I have to have all the _______, I need to be invited to _______, I have to look like _______. I can’t forgive _____ because he/she isn’t sorry. No one understands me. And the list never ends. Ever.
And we tell ourselves these things because it’s hard to change. Scary, actually. But God loves us too much to let us stay this way. Although small in comparison, I could have just left the precious necklace tangled. It’s too small to wear anyway. But I know it’s worth. God knows your worth. So He’s cutting away everything that doesn’t mirror His character and that doesn’t matter. This sounds beautiful. It’s ugly sometimes and quite painful. So let’s get real.
Someone hurt my feelings this week. No, this isn’t a sob story! Stay with me. I was upset and maybe even a little angry. Months ago I probably would have had something to say that wasn’t very gracious. Now, my emotions didn’t FEEL gracious when I was hurt. But I took a moment to think and even said a little prayer (more like a cry for help!). And…guess what!!! I was still hurt.😂But my response was calm and gracious. Can I tell you that months ago this wouldn’t have been the case? And this isn’t a reflection of my maturity or spiritual state at all, but simply a product of some painful but necessarily cutting away of insecurities. And I know that I have a long way to go. A long way. Lots of ground to cover. Miles to go before…. you get the picture!
As much work as it takes to clean out a closet, decluttering those things in our hearts and minds that AREN’T real is so much harder. And it sometimes even feels like we’re being punished when, in fact, God is seeking to refine us. When we’re hurt, ashamed, afraid…,those are valid feelings and we want to be understood. But gradually we can see progress, even if it’s a little at a time. We have to continue to pray, read God’s word, talk to a trusted friend, or even seek out counseling. I probably cut on these necklaces for at least ten minutes. Interestingly, the costume necklaces pulled away very easily at the end of the process… and when we can lose the weight of what’s not real, not true, in our lives…. be it insecurity, shame over something in the past, hurt, unforgiveness, then we can see what’s real. And it’s beautiful.