The Circle of Life: Cleaning the Closet of Your Heart

Healthy living in a day to day fashion is often a hard choice. Like everything else in my life, my eating and the way I spend the minutes in a day that God has given me is a choice. Often I am not choosing between the good and the bad, but rather between the good and the better and then the best that God has for me. I turn away chocolate cake sometimes and feel like crying, BUT I know the ultimate goal for me is to be a healthy weight that will allow me to journey through life with my family, friends, grandchildren, and others that God allows me to journey with in the most adventurous ways. I have been invited to plan a camping and hiking trip this coming autumn and I want to be able to hike without remorse in my knees and in the various muscles that revolt against my moving on occasion now. The way I choose to live, move and eat now will determine my success there later. It is no different in my walk with God.

I was talking with someone last week about my closet shopping. I have been shopping in my closet for new clothes that I can wear as I lose weight because I have plenty of clothes I have never thrown out or given away as I have become too heavy to wear them. I have clothes from 4 sizes down to the present size and 4 sizes up. My friend laughed and said that she refers to that kind of closet as a “Circle of Life” closet. It contains the range of sizes you have been and the experiences that have gone with them. We laughed, but for real, have you been there? Have you saved clothes you haven’t been able to wear in years and kept your closets full of old sizes and experiences? Have you done that in your spiritual life?  

I got to thinking about that “Circle of Life” yesterday. How many old behaviors do I have in my closet ready to be pulled out when I feel I need them? How many old definitions of myself do I carry around in my heart’s closet that I will immediately call myself when I fall or when I’m tempted to?

“Jo, you are such an idiot to have fallen into that hole again!”
“Jo, why can’t you remember anything really important?”
“Jo, you never do anything right and cannot do ‘this or that’ right to make ‘that person’ happy ever!”
“Jo, you suck as a friend, daughter, sister and so many other things because you cannot keep track of anything important and get to sending things that are important!”

All the negative messages we have on replay when we fall. And there are a few old behaviors that I am not going to mention here that seem all too easily accessible when I am stressed. Anyone ever just lose their temper when they are feeling overwhelmed only to dump all that stress and anger out of someone undeserving of it?

God is there in those secret “circle of life” closet spaces in my heart too. I have invited him to see all the dirty secrets, bad habits, and negative self-talk. It was hard to do that for me, even though I knew HE knew it anyway. Pslam 139:1-18 says as much and more.

1 You have searched me, Lord,
   and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you…”  -Pslam 139:1-18

BUT If you asked me the hardest BIBLE verse ever, and the one I most dread obeying sometimes, it is this: Psalm 139:23-24

23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting life.

I shudder sometimes at the thought of inviting my holy AND wonderful God, the one that cleaned me out, forgave me and redeemed my mess AND THEN invited me to journey with others, so they might have support through their messy times and be led to HIM… into my ugliness again. I mean HE cleaned it out big time and there is still more old ugly stuff and more new ugly stuff. I hate having him look into my heart’s darkest places to see that stuff.

Just like cleaning out my closet to get rid of those clothes that are too big for me in order to commit to my new “clean living and healthy” lifestyle and NEVER to go back, I must clean out my heart’s closet too. Ephesians 4:22-32 puts it this way:

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.  “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.  Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Today, I am pondering how I might make this new self a reality in my life. I am challenged to make this putting on of my new self, once again, a conscious and daily effort. Maybe you will join me in cleaning out your “Circle of Life” closet and committing to the new self and lifestyle that following Jesus Christ affords. I look forward to our journey together!

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