This morning I made my way past tattered boxes to climb in my little car. My garage is cluttered with the things that I don’t want to deal with. Furniture that needs to be trashed, bikes that are too small for my children to ride, boxes that belong in the attic, stored away and most likely forgotten. But beyond that, a few boxes remain that are cluttered with memories that I am not ready to sift through. They don’t look like much, but to me, they are priceless because they belong to my Dad.
Last week I wrote this for a project that I am currently working on that feels like the unearthing of me. If I could just get all of this down I’m certain that we would all look a different, glorious shade of free.
I am afraid to sift through all the things that remind me of him. I am afraid of the joy I will have finding treasures in a few boxes that are all I have left of him now. Mostly, I am afraid of the threat of memories that trigger pain and dysfunction. Today I will wrestle one more time and my face reality, both the past and present and do the hard work to unclutter my heart. This is not a new concept for me; I have been doing this for decades. But, for only one decade I have been the real version of free.
Waiting for me is the awareness that will overwhelm my soul as I rummage through what looks like trash to soak in how much he loved his girls and grandchildren. Will I get mad at myself for not understanding him, or cringe thinking of all the way I could have loved him better? Yes. Painfully, breathlessly, completely- I will feel whatever I feel unashamed. I will forgive myself again. I will heal again. I will look at those boxes with fresh eyes of gratitude and say, “I would be so much less today if it wasn’t for you.”
Uncluttering my heart led to better things that last, strength of character, drive, fierce loyalty to the ones that I love, and a faith that is unafraid to ask questions and wrestle until I walk away with blessings.
You want to be free, right? Freedom looks like making better friends with our story…the part of our story we used omit and fake our way through the lie of “I’m fine.”
Grief is irrational. Feel it anyway. Fear is a liar. Tell it to hush so you can listen to the Holy Spirit. And, pain is never wasted. We can run into it head-on or we can default to a prettier version of pretending that leaves us stationary and stuck. But, I’m guessing you are tired of feeling stuck. I get you.
In your life, you have a lot of boxes. It’s okay because I have them too.
But what if it’s time to lift the lid and tell the little girl inside of you that she’s a freaking rockstar? You did your very best, so did the people inside of your box of memories.
Or maybe they left you.
Or when they look at you, they feel shame and like they don’t deserve to be loved by you.
Maybe it feels like the sting of arctic air when they walk into the room, in the dusty corner of your heart because you spend your days ignoring your boxes. You don’t know how to forgive yourself, or others, so that one box has now turned into ten.
Carry those boxes to the God that formed you. Unpack them with prayer and surrender. Unclutter your heart, because your right now is so much better than your yesterday.
You are sustained by him with redemptive stories waiting in your box.
Even to your old age and gray hairs
I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you. (Isaiah 46:4)
Perfect women have lame stories, darling. And, you are not lame.
So much love to you,