It's Saturday morning, and it's time to clean house. I mean, really clean it- and not just pretend I am. It would help if I went out and bought a vacuum cleaner that actually works, instead of using the one I have that smokes and growls loudly as I push it across the carpet, making a lot of noise,but doing...nothing. I need to clean out my overflowing bedroom closet and sort things around my desk. It is an absolute mess, my room.
And the kitchen- that should be attended to. If I look out the window, I'm inspired enough to keep washing the pots and pans, scrub counters, contemplate the view, and reflect on my life while my hands are in sudsy, hot water.
As long as I am not the one in hot water right now, then I can handle having a messy house. But I can't handle having a mess of a soul. I can't cope if I have hidden emotions, not dealt with, and lies of the soul that I want to cling to- that no one would know are there. And who helps you really do a deep soul cleaning? There is no commercial service that can come in and clean up your soul- in one day.
So while I clean house today, I may just sort out some old ideas I have been holding onto. I may let go of some things. In the case of my book proposal on dealing with depression, I have to decide if "this" is the book that should be written.
It may be that I am more like my old vacuum cleaner than I realize. It may be that I am working and looking like I am "doing" something. But the reality is that I could just be giving off a lot of smoke and not accomplishing what I set out to do.
My Book Proposal came out of a workshop series I taught on last year. There was a great response to it. But not because I am some expert- although you usually look like an expert if you share on something that has not taken you down for the count- and kept you down. Women wanted to hear someone just talk about the biggies of fear, anxiety, depression and worry.
I think some women were not so much looking for answers to these issues, but were looking for someone just to say that she struggled with them. This person- me- had to look reasonably sane, and hopeful; had to be someone who made it so far, in spite of these emotions and realities dogging their journey. So I stood there, last year, during this 4 week series, as a reflection of hope to these women. I was a symbol of success to them mainly by the fact that I was still standing. That's what they needed to see- someone who could talk about painful realities and stand, smiling, not scarred to the bone.
I'm not disfigured by fear anymore. But I do have scars. And that's what people want to see. Usually that's what encourages them, helps them know that you are real, and that they - being real- can make it on this journey through dark cavernous places.
Edward Shillito expressed this truth in his poem, Jesus of the Scars:
If we have never sought, we seek Thee now:
Thine eyes burn through the dark, our only stars;
We must have sight of thorn-pricks on Thy brow,
We must have Thee, O Jesus of the Scars.
The heavens frighten us; they are too calm;
In all the universe we have no place.
Our wounds are hurting us; where is the balm?
Lord Jesus, by Thy Scars, we claim Thy grace.
The other gods were strong; but Thou wast weak;
They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God's wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone.
So when people see me stumbling about in attempts to clean house, in my effort to draw near to God, they may be encouraged by how it looks to the eye to be made whole. It looks like a mess, often. You stand, somewhat exposed or raw. You share how you asked God, Put the salve here please. This is where it hurts.
That's why the books I will write have to be centered on...reality. I will have to zero in, even tighter, on things we normally back away from. I will have to be ruthless and daring. That doesn't come naturally to me- in spite of how some see me.
We are clamoring to know answers. Some of us are more in reach of these answers simply because we have put an honest hand out, raised it up, waved it furiously, and God came running. Or it least it seemed He came running.
The reality is, He was there all along. We just sensed His arrival because our eyes were suddenly opened, and we saw Him there. And then we took a stand, with Him supporting us. Or we wrote a book, daring to share with the world...what the world somehow knows, yet yearns to hear again and again.
There is a balm in Gilead. There is a salve that takes away the stain- but never takes away the scars. Take heart, though.Share those scars with the world. He meant for you to do so.