Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Lessons Learned from a Closet

Who would have thought that the things lurking in my closets could give great insights into my soul?  But they certainly did.  In my last post, I shared my recent efforts to get organized.  Just organizing things, though, is rarely all that needs to be done.  The most difficult part of the process can be deciding what things to keep and which things it’s time to let go.

I think the real problem is the dreams that many of those unused things represent.

Before Criss and I had kids, we thought we wanted to have four of them.  Now that we have two kids with chronic health problems, even two seems like too many at times.  As I start packing up old baby items from the closets and attic to be given away, it seems to not just be the items that I’m putting into the box but instead the dreams of many happy, healthy children running around the house.  It’s also letting go of the hopes of a fun pregnancy (I was sick the entire time I carried Silas) as well as the hopes of a “happy baby” – one that doesn’t scream in agonizing pain for the first three or four years of his life - one of those quiet babies that you can take anywhere and he just sleeps through the whole thing.

One closet held a small radio intended to be used in bad weather.  It didn’t hold much value to anyone but me.  It was given to me by my grandmother – my “Wichita Granny” who I fondly remember playing with as a child – my Granny who I will never see again on this earth.

My bedroom closet is home to many different sizes of clothing.  When we lose weight, it’s relatively easy to give away the larger sizes – vowing we will never return to that place again.  Yet, it is much more difficult to get rid of the smaller sizes.  When we do, we feel that we’re somehow letting go of the dream of ever returning to that size again.

Another closet held the supplies we had left from Silas’ 2 ½ week stay in the hospital that sent us home with no real answers and an NG tube.  Just looking at the spare NG tube brings back vivid memories of the three adults it took to hold him down while a nurse shoved the tube down his nose and into his stomach.

And there’s more to come.  I haven’t gotten to all of the kitchen cabinets yet.  That will lead me to spaces overflowing with cookbooks filled with recipes I had dreamed of making for my family – the dream family that is able to eat anything I cook (and not end up sick for days afterward).

The problem is that when I hang on to these items, there’s very little space left for the items I actually do need.  In the same way, refusing to let go of the dreams they represent prevents me from enjoying the life I am actually living.

I may never have a “happy baby” or four healthy kids, but I do have a little boy who has such a big heart for others.  I also have the opportunity (through adoption) to change the life a little girl who otherwise may have never received proper medical care or the embrace of a loving family.

I also know that when I pack away the little radio, I am not losing the wonderful memories I have of my grandmother playing hopscotch with me in the driveway.

As I pack away smaller sizes of clothing, I am not giving up my dream of being that size again – only accepting who I am today and choosing to give the clothes to someone who can actually use them before they go out of style or are eaten by moths.

I throw away the old medical supplies choosing to not dwell on past hurts and pain – choosing instead to focus on how far we’ve come.

In packing up these items, I am putting into action my heart’s desire to follow God wherever He leads.  He may chose to one day give those dreams back to me or instead give me new dreams.  Either way, I (and my closets) choose to embrace the life He has given me today.

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.  Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”  Isaiah 43:18-19 (ESV)

“And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.  For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?’”  Luke 9:23-25

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Matthew 6:19-21



  1. Wow, Janel! I needed to read this exactly today. This was SO profound and beautifully written. At first, when I read the first part about cleaning out closets, I had to laugh, since I have vivid memories of you coming to spend the night with me - and cleaning out my bedroom closet!

    I had no idea your children were facing such health problems. I will pray for you all as the Lord brings you to mind.

    It's kinda funny, because just a few weeks ago I was thinking about you, and missing you. I have so many good, fun memories of our childhood friendship. Perhaps now that we've discovered each other's blogs, we can stay in touch now.

  2. I am glad you found me on the EOS group, Janel. Thanks for commenting on my blog and sharing yours! I love what you shared here. Thank you for boldly sharing what God is teaching you. I can relate to so much of it! :)



  3. Hi, found your blog on the yahoo EGID group. We are going through some of the same things with my son. I do mourn my lost dreams, it makes me more able to accept the way things are. Thanks for sharing.