Monday, August 7, 2017

What Really Matters

As I have mentioned on here before, I've been de-cluttering and minimizing the stuff I have been holding on to. One time it may be sorting through a box of pictures; another time it might be as simple as cleaning out my sock drawer. This past Saturday, though, the organizing project was one I had been putting off because I dreaded it, but I really felt like it was the day for it.

These were boxes of memorabilia from my life before the divorce, going all the way back to childhood; boxes I had tried to go through unsuccessfully about 5 years ago. I was in a precarious place emotionally back then, due to emotional baggage that I had never dealt with. I just wasn't healed enough yet. Some of my parents' stuff was in those boxes, and even though my mother had been gone 15 years and my dad almost 30 years at that time, I wasn't prepared to face it. I hastily packed it all back up and stashed in the back of the closet, far out of sight and hopefully, out of mind.

By doing this I pushed the pain down into a corner of my heart, so to speak. It was out of sight and mind, but it was affecting me much more than I realized. I'm not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I have learned from experience that raw emotions and hurts that are not brought to the Lord will eventually infect every part of the soul. Depression fueled by rejection, shame, and feelings of worthlessness was just beneath the surface all the time.

Thankfully, later  that year God miraculously set me free from that darkness and pain in my heart and I am forever changed. Still, I was a little hesitant to open those boxes, much less throw away or donate some of it. I knew it was time, though.

So I opened the closet and pulled those boxes out. There were the childhood memories, such as my Girl Scout sash and pins, various pictures and clippings from my childhood; and even some 45 records. There were mementos that represented my parents' lives. The items so painful to see that I had pushed them out of my sight for 5 years. Pathetic, I know, but this is what the enemy specializes in. Remember, he comes to "steal, kill, and destroy." He tried to destroy me but he was not successful, praise the Lord!

I'm not sure what I expected to feel upon seeing my mom and dad's treasured items again. One would probably expect to cry, or feel extreme sadness, but something very different happened. I felt joy. I felt relief. There was a release from the past and the hold it had over me. I was surprised but happy to finally be able to face the past; to hold in my hands mementos like a tiny American flag pin that my mother liked to wear on patriotic holidays. 

Looking through the boxes I found it difficult to believe that I had actually been afraid of this. It seemed silly to me that I would find it painful to see and hold these things again. I have now realized all these years later that I didn't lose my parents. I know where they are, and I know I will see them again one day. It was hard to accept back then, though, and I obsessed for way too long over the fact that I was the only survivor of my immediate family I grew up in. 

The rationale of the preceding paragraph is from the perspective of a delivered, free believer. Jesus has broken the chains I once dragged around. The reason I can see it so clearly now is because of the redeeming work that Christ has done in my heart. 

There is no way I could have ever untangled the mess that my life was in. One of the pictures I have attached is of several pieces of jewelry that were hopelessly knotted together. I tried for over half an hour to salvage the wooden cross necklace, the one piece in all that mess I really wanted to keep. Then it hit me that this was a perfect analogy of the cross. Only Jesus can set us free. When it's all said and done, only the cross of Christ matters. Because of the cross I am free!

I found it so ironic that same items that the Lord had given me the grace to box up in 1996 all by myself I was now going through again all by myself. It had caused me so much grief and pain for so many years. Just like He always does, though, He gave me the grace and ability to go through those boxes and throw away or put in the box to donate what I didn't need anymore. As a bonus (or maybe it was the whole reason all along?) I got a lesson in what really matters.

He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed. 1 Peter 2:24 NLT

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