“I hate my life!” she said. “I just wish I could start over and not end up with so much stuff!” “I wish I could be born again!” These are the exact words of my nine-year-old daughter as she faced the overwhelming task of cleaning her room. She was right. It had reached a breaking point. The room was impossible to clean without letting go of some of that “stuff.” Every corner, every storage container, every shelf, drawer, hanger, and all the square footage under the bed was occupied. Thanks to Andy Davis and Toy Story One, Two and, worst of all, Three, every toy, every stuffed animal and in her case, every garment had anthropomorphic attributes. How could she possibly allow any of these precious things to leave her care? She was carrying a burden she could not bear, and it seemed hopeless to her.
Right about this time, I had been praying for a new way to teach this precious child of mine about God. I wanted her to begin to develop a concept of God that went beyond Bible stories and Veggie Tales. I want her to KNOW God; to experience the difference the presence of God makes in our lives. The teachable moment arrived that night. God could not have handed it to me in a more transparent package. She said she wished she could be “born-again!” She has accused me before of being “full of surprises” and my response to her plea was probably one of those times. Instead of counseling her about logical solutions to this gluttony of stuff, I proclaimed, “That’s what God does!” “God takes all of the stuff we’ve messed up on, clears it away and gives us a fresh start!” I painted a picture of a pristine room where everything had a place, where there was room to move and play, and where walls could be painted a fresh favorite color and “stuff” didn’t rule her life. I told her that when we let God do that in our hearts, we have a fresh start and every mistake we’ve ever made disappears like it never happened. I’m not sure she got it that night, but the seed has been planted, and she’ll get it when the time is right.
Fast forward to last weekend. I’ve never learned so much about God’s grace than I have these past nine years as a mother. I heard myself asking my precious daughter to trust me as I began the overwhelming task of sorting through the chaos in her room. She fought me – sometimes through tears – over things like a broken part from a Happy Meal toy. She might need it one day! She might find the other broken piece and then she could glue them together! I, as the older and wiser one, knew better, but I couldn’t move forward until she was ready to let it go. (Yes I am aware of the “do it when they are gone” trick – I’ve done it many times – but this was the kind of clearing out that would not go unnoticed, so I required her cooperation). I heard the Gentle Whisper saying, “This is how you are with me sometimes you know. I ask you to trust me because I want to clear out all the worthless junk you think is treasure in order to set you free on a whole new level and you fight me.” Another truth revealed in the midst of an ordinary moment.
For the past three days now both daughter and mother have been delighting in this freshly clean space. It was not easy, and the daughter’s trust is still shaky, but we are making great strides in a good direction, growing in our understanding of God, ourselves and each other. Her “stuff” is currently stored in bags in the garage awaiting their next stop – the thrift store, the trash bin, or the posterity tubs. Here is where the analogy breaks down. When we let God get in there and clear out our stuff, it’s gone for good (if we allow it to be) but in our house, we’ll be dealing with it on some level for a while yet.© Twirling Girl, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Twirling Girl with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.