Thursday, January 7, 2010

Chapter Ten: The Hidden Places of My Heart

Walk through the checkout line at the grocery store and you're bound to see celebrities in rare form. The media delights in their lifestyles of airbrushed beauty and social stature and boy, do they revel when celebrities are caught in true - human- form. Whether it's their out-of-shape bodies, makeup-free faces or especially when their misdeeds are exposed, the media looks for every opportunity to sell them out. This culture has taught me to value the way I appear. I attempt to look presentable (most days), I'm self conscious about how I and my home look, I have been sucked into the world of HGTV and the Style network, trying to learn new ways to make my home and myself more attractive.

I had an opportunity recently to put on my best face and home. My husband and I hosted the staff Christmas party for the church where my husband works. I buzzed around cleaning nooks and crannies that no one would really see, rearranged furniture to make room for tables, turned on the tree lights, lit candles, and turned on music to set the mood. Wassail was simmering on the stove and since we were hosting the party, everyone else was bringing the food. Though I had checked off several items on my to do list, the hour of the party quickly approached and I was nowhere close to the finish line. I wanted our home to appear clean and orderly in every room, every corner. Rushing into each room, I began stacking clean clothes that needed to be hung and anything else laying about into my closet, cramming mail from the last three weeks into junk drawers, and wiping down countertops for the last time before the guests arrived. When they started arriving, I began to relax and enjoy myself. After they'd all gone home, there really wasn't a lot to do: a few dishes to wash, trash to be taken out, and the tables could wait to be taken down.

It wasn't until a couple days later that I began to notice what a mess I had made in the hidden places of my home: drawers, closets, the garage and utility room. When I opened the pen/junk drawer which usually is somewhat orderly with little trays containing the chaos, I couldn't see one pen or any semblance of anything that my eyes are used to - all I saw was paper: kids' artwork, mail, coupons, receipts - a stack of messiness. Opening my modest walk in closet, I could not get to my shoes for the laundry basket brimming with clean clothes needing to be put away. Stepping into the laundry room I was crowded by all my canvases and art projects that I had carelessly removed from my office turned party dining area. If you knew my dad, you'd know that he always has a joke to tell and always an analogy to make. I am his daughter.....and well, in the innards of my home, I couldn't help but think of how it was such a telling picture of my heart and my life.

During the week, after I rev myself with coffee, get my older two kids off to school and make way for the shower (if I make it there that day). I attempt to make myself presentable to the world (and since I don't even get out of the car picking my children up from school and a day out is going to the grocery store - this makes total sense, of course). I put on concealer to mask the dark circles that have come with having four children and my morphing into a night owl. Then I hide blemishes and tired eyes behind makeup and the hair that I somewhat have under control with my new professional grade straightener (a Christmas gift). I make my bed, presenting the illusion of order, and proceed to get my children in presentable condition.

Sunday mornings are a different ballgame. Since my husband works for the church, he leaves early most Sunday mornings and I must get myself and my four children out the door on time alone. One Sunday morning I walked into church and another mom commented that I was the picture of calm.....I chuckled. If she only knew what a mess my mind and heart, oh and my mouth, had been that morning snipping as I herded my children, having wardrobe issues, getting everyone into the van late, "low fuel" light blinking. Internally, I was not a good girl, getting mad at my husband for not being there to help (when he wasn't even there to defend himself) and thinking of not so nice words to describe the other drivers in my way on the way to church... Yeah, I'm calm - now. I get to drop all of my children off in nursery and Sunday school for two and a half hours...yeah, I'm calm- now, but what a mess I really am and what business do I have being at church?!

I put myself in a pit all on my own - that's why I need Christ. At the end of the day, it does NOT matter what other people in my path that day saw. I can usually present the world a polished picture of calm, but I'm pretty sure I violate all of the Ten Commandments close to daily, maybe not always with my hands or even my words, but so very often with my heart. At the end of the day and even at the end of my life, I realize that it's just me and my Lord. He knew the depths of my messiness, the dirtiness of my sin before I was even conceived, yet He provided His son to save me. Saved by faith alone, I am covered by the righteousness of Jesus Christ and do not have to depend on my doing good for salvation. What a relief?! How often I forget and get lost in the miry clay. I lose my faith and my hope in one instant when things don't go my way.

My struggles pale in comparison to so many, but this hiding we all do is what keeps us from loving one another. My pride keeps me from sharing my true self from family, friends, my husband, and inhibits my end of my relationship with my Lord. That same pride keeps me from reaching out to be "real" with others, keeping conversation at a surface level. I have learned to do that well.

All this pretending and hiding from the truth of who I really am reminds me of a lady who hid not so long ago. Her life has encouraged me so. My struggles pale in comparison to hers, yet she and I do share a hope in Christ who will never fail us and who will search the depths of my heart and yours, if you will, and redeem and sanctify those messy, dirty, hidden spaces in our hearts.

If you've ever read the humble, yet heroic story of Corrie ten Boom in The Hiding Place, you've given yourself a small glimpse into the face of fear that gripped Europe in WWII. Corrie ten Boom bravely participated in an intricate underground hiding program that helped save over 800 Jews. She was eventually arrested and taken to a concentration camp. More amazing than her courage, was how she clung to her faith in unimaginable circumstances and brought hope to so many as she shared the gospel with her prison mates, often reading scripture from a Bible that had been smuggled in. Corrie grew in her hope and was even thankful for the fleas that discouraged the guards from entering their barracks so they could study God's word together. How I wish I were so brave! Corrie ten Boom not only physically saved individuals from certain death and despair by hiding them in the small spaces of her home, her spirit was saved by an unwavering faith hidden in the corners of her heart.

She said it best when she claimed "There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still." How I do believe it to be true!

Stay tuned as I fill in the gaps and connect the dots for His perfect story of my life....

Made Alive in Christ
Ephesians 2:1-10
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

1 Chronicles 28:9
And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.

1 comment:

  1. I think you and I are a lot alike! I do the same thing about trying to make it appear that my house is always clean and I am most always presentable! My pride too, keeps me from sharing my true self with friends and family. I can completely understand where you are coming from! I want close relationships with people, but this part of my pride has prevented me from having many. I can also empathize with you about trying to get the kids out of the door for church by yourself. There have been MANY Sundays when I knew I was in no frame of mind to be there! It is a relief to know that our salvation is not of our own doing but a product of His divine love and mercy!