The Beautiful Things

I will chase after the beautiful things. 

The things I've hung onto in my life for the sake of memories, for the sheer sake of holding on to something, I've found, has left me with very little. And I've found that living with less ultimately gives me so much more. 

Before I "Marie Kondo" my life, I realize something important: just because I want to keep something, doesn't mean I should. 

For a majority of 2020, I lived out of two suitcases and picked up only a few things along the way (granted, it was a COVID lockdown where I could rarely leave my hotel room, but even still, I was living with less).

Fast forward to Chicago, back home in my condo. I stare into a dresser drawer of five black t-shirts, four pairs of pajamas, and a third pile of odds and ends that I think I wear when I run out of the pile of pajamas. Do I want all of these, do they all make me happy? For me, the answer is yes, or at least, I think so. But do I really need them? Will I miss even two of the black t-shirts, should I decide to get rid of a couple? Probably not. Do I need anything in that third pile? I can't even remember what's in it, I could easily clear it out. And my parents would be proud to know I'm doing my laundry more often. 

I keep my shoes in a clear container under my bed. At first glance, I can tell you exactly what's inside; a few pairs of sandals, tennis shoes, a pair of wedges, my crocs, and my boots for fall. 

For me, in a metaphorical sense, what matters here is not so much the contents of the drawer as it is the drawer itself. 

 I will chase after the beautiful things. 

I'm learning it's not so much about what I hold onto as it is the way I store it. The way I store things is what ultimately gives me clarity into what should stay, and what might need to go. I can glance through my shoe box and in a couple of minutes, clear out the things that don't serve me well, while it takes more time to clear out the dresser drawer. And it's easier to hide that mess for longer. 

I will chase after the beautiful things. 

The things that set my mind at ease, the reassurance that comes with having the resources I know that I need for all situations (at least, that's the way my mind works; I feel peace when I'm prepared). I make all these plans for what I'll do someday with the things I don't know what to do with right now. The containers will be peace, and hope, and joy, and life; and I'll trade in the containers that hide the contents, the containers of anger, sadness, avarice, disappointment, and fear. And with it, I'll clear out the contents that are painful, the ones I hold onto for the sake of holding onto something. I'll trade it in for space, I'll trade it in for the things that I do need. I need Jesus. I don't know how to do that all just yet.

I can feel God tapping on the door of the house of my heart, asking to enter in. And I'll say, "Haven't I been here before?," and He answers, "We've been here many times... over, and over again." I can't open the door. I stand with my fist and forehead against it, sobbing, wondering why I do this every time - let Him in just a little, then get so distracted that I don't realize I was the one to slam the the door that puts Him back on the other side. 

And in that time, I've shoved my life back into the dresser drawers, hiding the things away that have hurt and shaken and left me without peace, and placed them into containers that haven't served me well. He taps again, ever so gently, and whispers for me to open the door. "This is grace," he says, "and we'll do this over and over again on this side of heaven. And it is ok. You are loved. And you are forgiven for it."

My hand reaches for the doorknob, ever so quietly, ever so gently, and I begin to turn the knob. The door opens, and I see God waiting on the other side of it. I want him to plow me over, invite Himself in, and get to the drawers and start to throw things out that aren't helpful to me. But instead, I open the door wide, and ask him to come in. He gracefully moves to the living room and sits on the couch. I beg him to go to the drawers where that deepest pain is hiding away. But He asks me to sit with him there, on the couch, where it's comfortable. But I'm not comfortable. We sit and talk awhile about other things. He stands up and grabs the broom and starts to sweep the floor in the room we're in. I can't take my mind off of the mess that's waiting in the other room, I want to get to the root of the issue. But there He is, sweeping away the dust in the room, repainting the nicks in baseboards, re-designing the formation of the couches and the chairs. "All of this can wait!," I yell, and he smiles and says nothing back. He turns on music and starts to dance. I recognize this is the point in time where I usually slam the door. God isn't doing what I want Him to do, so I'll do it myself. But I never do, and I see that now. And it takes a little while, but I'm swept into the music and the silly dance moves, singing into slipper I've been missing for the last couple of months that was hiding under the couch, and soon enough I forget about the mess in the next room. I suddenly understand that that mess can wait, because the place I'm in is fully swept and taken care of. It is beautiful. 

I'm chasing after the beautiful things.


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