If the title sounds like a command, I think you’re right. If you have any guesses as to how this pertains to my life…I’d love it if you’d clue me in! On its face “open the door” seems pretty straightforward, but since I got this word from the Holy Spirit, I know it has to be a little more (okay, a lot more) nuanced than that.
The message came to me a little more than a year ago. That’s a long time to ponder its exact meaning! At that moment, I thought it was a word of encouragement. You see my introverted nature is constantly trying to balance the fact that I live with three extroverts. So, I figured this was an assuring message about hospitality…a way to move me forward and out of my comfort zone. Satisfied with that, I went about my business and learned to better carve out some “introvert recharging time” for myself while welcoming the kiddos’ friends with open arms. And it worked. Our home is basically a mini version of Grand Central Station and (believe it or not) I’m actually good with it. My kids have really great friends…tweens/teens that I enjoy having at our house, kids who are positive influences for my babies and are all around good people. Score, right? That’s what I thought, too!
Still, the command wasn’t satisfied. Hmmm…what now? I tried to push it to the back of my mind. If it was really important, the answer would reveal itself. Nope. So, after much more consideration, I arrived at a new conclusion. It wasn’t so much about letting someone/something IN…it was about letting someone/something OUT. I was holding my children back. That had to be it. I was “s-mothering” them! (That’s smothering and mothering at the same time!) Of course. I’m a little overprotective, a little too available, a little too quick to solve their problems. I’ll admit it, I am my own “afterschool special.” To remedy the situation I tried to take a step back (just a little.) I understand that independence is an important part of growing up. Maybe I didn’t need to be fully enmeshed, just engaged. Yes, that’s it-ENGAGED. Mystery solved. (Feel free to start laughing at me now.)
Wrong again, I tried to push this edict away. Burdensome, that’s what this was. I had no idea what the answer could be and honestly, I didn’t want to be bothered by it anymore. We were busy. We were overscheduled. I was tired. It was summer and the days were hot, long and full. I didn’t have time for this. I’d already given the subject so much thought and prayer. The answer was not coming and I began to doubt the message. Surely, I had heard it wrong. If this was for me, then there was obviously something that I was missing. So I put it on a “spiritual shelf.” I’d deal with it in the fall….
Fall came and went. We rolled into winter and the message remained the same. From the “spiritual shelf,” I could still hear it calling me. And I still had no idea how to respond. It wasn’t until after the holidays that a (or another) new thought occurred to me. Perhaps, this was more personal. Maybe, I needed to go “outside?” Take a chance? What if there was something that I personally needed to take care of? Could this message be calling me to open the door and step out in faith?
I thought about a job search, looking into starting some sort of side business, and even going back to school to earn a master’s degree. I stepped back from some volunteer commitments and ventured into new volunteer opportunities. In the past, this type of itch has been satisfied through creativity…so I began baking up a storm, photographing everything in sight, playing the piano, sewing, daydreaming, reading, writing, etc. And…nothing. Nada. Zilch.
When something weighs heavily on your heart, it’s really hard to put it “away.” I know I’m not the only one who’s ever been here. There’s a reason why we can’t “run” from our problems. The Bible speaks to it (just ask Jonah) and we all probably have countless personal anecdotes about trying to “run” when things get sticky or uncomfortable. And I wholeheartedly believe that there’s a reason God has whispered (and occasionally shouted) this command to me. I just wish I knew what it was.
In the meantime, I’m actively waiting. Understanding that prayer is answered with YES, NO, GROW and my least favorite–WAIT. I know that I have nothing to complain about. Life is good. We are well. God is with us. In this waiting season (yes, I’m learning to better practice patience,) I’m trying hard to be fully present. This is more difficult than it sounds as I waiver between feeling apathetic and restless to energized and eager. It’s a situation that I’m not used to and one that I’m certainly not prepared for. I didn’t ask for change…and maybe that’s what this is all about. Yet, I know and trust that there is a purpose. Knock. Knock.
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8
Are we not all desperate one way or another? Taylor Caldwell, author
The funny thing about standing on the edge is that there’s typically little to no warning that you’re about to go over. No countdown. No alert system. I usually only realize that I’ve arrived at this point when one foot is dangling and the other is making every crazy attempt to stay planted. It’s a dance I’ve seen countless times and one that I’m not proud of.
Lately, this idea of desperation has been rearing its ugly head in all kinds of places. I see it everywhere–in my home, overheard at the grocery store, on television/radio, it’s become a mainstay on social media, I hear it in the voices of my closest loved ones and it even stares back at me from the bathroom mirror. It’s become practically inescapable and totally overwhelming. And it appears to be the new norm.
What I hate most about desperation is that it clouds decision-making, muddies our sense of right and wrong, and worst of all causes us to say/do things we (should) almost immediately regret (although that’s not always the case.) And “desperation” has become so incredibly clever. Nowadays, it masks itself as “urgency,” “FoMO” (fear of missing out) and even “self-righteousness”…often times creating an anxiety that holds us captive. This type of desperation not only leaves us hopeless but it creates fear, anger, and sadness. Desperation puts us in situations we could have never imagined…poisoning ourselves and everything around us. Numb and cowering like a defenseless animal, we can only respond by lashing out at one another or internalizing our darkest fears. When these feelings reach their peak, one is left feeling incredibly alone. And yet, we keep coming back to the same well. Doing the same things. Repeating this frantic pattern over and over.
Where is the faith, the peace, the hope? As a Christian, I think it’s in the same place it’s always been–Jesus. I’ve noticed that as our culture continues to distance itself from God…the only truly content people I can find are those who consider themselves followers of Christ. In fact, one of the reasons I was so drawn to Christianity was the sense of peace that Jesus offers. Picture the most devout person you know and I’m willing to bet that person just exudes peace. Shining, content, grace-filled peace…in abundance. The kind of peace we hope to capture for ourselves.
We’ve been conditioned to believe that peace is elusive…only attainable after years of practice. We’ve been told that peace is for the enlightened, those who have achieved some higher level learning. We’ve been advised that peace is for the naive. And we’ve been warned that peace simply cannot exist. And I think that’s exactly what the world wants us to believe.
There are no quick answers here, only prayer. Distancing ourselves from desperation requires discipline and personal growth. I imagine it’s a lifelong endeavor, but one well worth every effort. I refuse to drink from the world’s cup and fall prey to these desperate times. I will continue to seek out those whose grace-filled examples serve as encouragement and inspiration. And I fully plan to surround myself with only His perfect peace.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13