I’m slightly OCD when it comes to cleanliness and organization in my home. And by cleanliness, I mean lack of clutter. Don’t look under my sofa because I think my dust bunnies have their own zip codes.
Part of why I’m nuts about keeping my space clutter free is that when my space is in chaos, I feel like my mind is in chaos, too. Also, when I am stressed I often work it out by organizing something and throwing away stuff I feel I no longer need. In fact, I think throwing stuff away is a favorite pastime. This purging always makes me feel like I have a fresh start. A clean slate. A new beginning. I feel on the ball and ready to tackle the next big thing. When my space is clouded with clutter, I feel confined by chaos. It was only recently that I had a revelation about purging something else in my life that causes chaos in the worst way.
I’m talking about the pain of being hurt by others, the pain of disappointment, the pain of rejection, the pain of unmet expectations and maybe the worst one, the pain of how hard I am on myself. I have spent tons of time purging junk from my physical presence but I have completely neglected the junk in my soul. I’ve surrounded myself with pain like a shield or a wall or even a comfy blanket that keeps me warm. Except it doesn’t keep me warm. It’s actually very cold. Pain has become a prison for my mind.
I think about all the things I would love to do and be and have. I would love to write books and teach the bible and speak to women but pain whispers that no one else wants me to do that. I would love to be a wonderful friend, an amazing volunteer, and an influential leader but pain whispers thoughts of failure before I even begin. I want to have strong relationships, great adventures and conviction in my purpose but pain whispers rejection and doubt all day long.
It’s gotten to the point where pain tends to make my decisions and I tend to let it. I am quite sure the enemy loves every single second of it. In fact, part of me wants to let the pain win because I know that if I fight it, the enemy will come at me harder and I’m not sure I can handle it. So I sit, defeated and worn out and frankly, lonely. Pain is such a bully!
In addition to my slight OCD, I also suffer from some perfectionism and people pleasing. (It makes sense. They are like the Three Musketeers of lies. They go together like rama lamma lamma.) In pondering this I realized something critical.
When I am hurt, no matter how much, I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to protect the feelings of the ones who hurt me. For example, I don’t tell them how I really feel because I don’t want them to feel bad. I give them the grace of knowing they didn’t mean to hurt me or they didn’t know what they were doing. I want to protect them from other people thinking they are bad. Somehow I have convinced myself that this makes me more like Christ. Except it doesn’t. It makes me more like a punching bag. It actually cripples me in a way that keeps me from becoming more like Christ because I simply cannot move forward when I am busy being held back.
It’s time to clean and purge the mental house. My plan is to attack it in a couple different ways.
First, I can confront anyone who has hurt me to attempt to get some resolution. Confrontation is the absolute worst but I finally realized the bottom line…I have nothing to lose here. If I confront and it doesn’t go well, I lose nothing because it already wasn’t going well. But if I confront and some resolution happens, I have gained something.
Second, I can let it go. I can release my death grip on it, open my fist and let the wind carry it away. This one is less action than the first and therefore may be a tad trickier. I have to make a choice though: confront or cut loose.
The last thing I need to do to purge the pain is remember the good things. On purpose. With intention. Until the pain becomes dull and the good becomes fresh. I know it’s not easy. It will take work and practice that will likely never make perfect. I’m okay with that because I need to purge perfect, too.
It’s time to purge the pain of my past to give way to the hope of my future.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11