Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17
This weekend, my husband and I had the most fabulous time. They were the best 2 dates we’ve been on in a while. What did we do? I’m glad you asked. 🙂 We…drum roll please…gutted the garage!
Doesn’t that sound fascinating? Seriously, I am thrilled. What began as a small pile of stuff, who knows how long ago, grew to a vast sea in which one would nearly break his or her neck to maneuver around. I’m not sure how this happened. Well, okay, I know. Little things here and there that we didn’t know what to do with, coupled with no time to deal with it, led up to a space that was downright frightening because we didn’t know what could be lurking in the shadows of this dark space.
It’s no coincidence that this was how we spent our time this weekend. As I wrote in Friday’s post, Dear God, God is transitioning my family into a new phase of life. With that comes change. With change comes the need for adjustments in life – tangible and intangible.
In order to be available for whatever He has next for us, we have to be ready. Tangibly, our affairs in the garage and attic are not in order. Have you ever felt like you just couldn’t add one more thing to your already overloaded life? That there wasn’t time or energy to give one more new thing?
That’s exactly where I am, and so to rectify this, I have to begin with ridding the old so we can welcome the new. Yes, it was a marvelous feeling to finally sort through the mysterious room of secrets. As adventuresome as it may sound, most of it wound up in the back of my husband’s car to go to the dump. (We shared a good laugh, okay, maybe I laughed at his expense, that he has to drive this dump stuff around in his car for four days before being able to go to the dump. It’s disgusting, and he has meetings with work that may involve others seeing said stuff. Yikes! His six-seater is currently a two-seater. He is a really good sport!! Major hubby points awarded.)
This dump stuff consists of broken things we thought we could fix someday and leftover parts we just knew we could repurpose. We had to realize those things are simply not a part of our lives anymore – they had to go.
Speaking of, we had a filing cabinet that moved with us over 15 years ago. For that long, we weren’t sure what was in it, but it was full. Bruce finally drilled out the lock this weekend and we found a treasure-trove of history: my original high school driver’s ed. certificate, electric bills from the 90’s, cancelled checks from almost 20 years ago, even paperwork from my beloved grandfather who passed away in 1994 – crazy! We made a fire to “celebrate” and burned it all.
And the trash! What in the world? How did that happen? Strips of drywall, various cuts of spare wood, an irreparable radio, and other oddities added up to a monstrous pile. In our defense, we do all of the home improvements we possibly can ourselves. We’ve laid all kinds of flooring, built stuff, painted stuff, Bruce is handy with electrical and plumbing, we refurbish and refinish, so with all of that comes an array of tools and supplies that bulk up the garage. At this point, however, much of what is left are good intentions run a muck. The whole thing has driven my allergies crazy!
Once everything was cleared out, we put up some shelves and arranged only what is absolutely necessary in orderly fashion. The bulk of the work was deciding (admitting) what we had to let go of in order to move forward. After all, arms can only hold so much.
The same clean-out is happening in my intangible life. My heart and mind. God is making me go through some piles in my mind and eliminate all that has nothing to do with my life now and where He is leading me. God is showing me what I have to let go of – unhealthy memories, inadequacies, failures, fears, even some people, because hearts and minds can only hold so much.
If I drew a picture of everything I’ve allowed to build up in my heart and mind, dare I say, it would have looked much like my garage. Little things pushed to the back of my mind that I didn’t have time or energy to deal with at the moment grew to a large pile of mental clutter weighing down my heart. Broken dreams and expectations, even failed relationships, that I thought could be repurposed. Refurbished. Repaired. No. God is doing a new work with new parts. Not to say He won’t or can’t repair things in us, absolutely, but when He does the work, He makes them new. No fractures filled with Super Glue; no hearts wrapped in duct tape; no caulking the gaping holes of failure in our history. When God restores, He makes all things new. We weren’t meant to look pieced together like Frankenstein. We were created to be whole and healed. Don’t you love that?
I may feel like Humpty Dumpty in my carnal nature, but God sees me a a seamless, beautiful masterpiece because it is His hands who are forming me, creating me in His image (Philippians 1:6; Ephesians 2:10).
Some things in my mind’s eye, however, were hard to part with because because they had been with me for so long. But you know what? Those things, like harsh criticism from others, mean words, guilt, self-defamation, reliving embarrassing moments I wish I could erase, self-deprecation…and did I mention guilt…serve no purpose in my life now. Where is there room for that on my mental shelves? No. That stuff belongs in the dump.
I realized there is also stuff taking up precious space in my heart; boxes that hold past hurts, self-imposed suffering, pain purposefully inflicted by others, and oozing wounds of a bleeding heart caught in the crossfire of faith and sin.
To our horror, we discovered a rodent of some kind had found our bag of birdseed and had been squirreling away in pockets all over the hidden parts of our garage. Gross! We found sunflower seed shells in small piles in the most unexpected places. Likewise, when we don’t address the unhealthy stuff that builds up in our minds and hearts, we give the enemy a foothold – a bread crumb trail to follow to our most inner thoughts and feelings. He will take full advantage of this and will invade space in our thoughts that was never supposed to be his (1 Peter 5:8-9). Eradicate the bread crumb trail. Remember, we’re not in this alone. God isn’t afraid to go ahead of us into the dark corners of our hearts. He shines His glory on them to unearth our original beauty and function and gives us courage and strength to face what we’ve been avoiding.
Indeed, my heart and mind did resemble my garage. But, today is a new day and God has set my feet on a new path. However, unlike the hours and hours of labor Bruce and I spent sorting, lifting and loading, God simply says of my heart, Give Me your hurt and exhaustion. I will take it from you (Matthew 11:28). I will cast your sin as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). With the suffering in your life, give Me your pain. I am strong enough to carry it – you are not (Hebrews 4:14-15). Trust Me to know what stays and what goes (Proverbs 3:5-6).
A new day. A new way of thinking. A new person emerging. Healthy. Healed. Whole. Some truths to remember…
God lovingly disciplines those He loves. We are not called to beat ourselves up. Proverbs 3:11-12
Think about praiseworthy things. Don’t dwell on bad memories or things we can’t control. Philippians 4:8
Give God our pain and brokenness. In return, He gives us comfort, gladness and dancing. Isaiah 61:1-3
Grow in wisdom, and don’t dwell on past ignorance. Proverbs 2:1-11
Give God our anxiety. He wants us to rest in His peace. Philippians 4:6-7
Think I’ll go stand in my garage today and take in the sights. While I’m there, I’ll thank God for doing the same work in my heart. He is so good.