Most of my life I have been able to compartmentalize my life. I think it is a natural bent that helps me concentrate well on whatever is at hand.
When I was practicing nursing, I called it “going clinical.” It helped me not to be overcome with the pain and grief and anxiety of my patients and their family. It worked well for that.
In our early years of marriage and ministry, we had to say, “Goodbye,” fairly often. By putting the people who were far away in a ‘drawer,’ I was not bothered too deeply or too often with homesickness. From time to time, I would open the ‘drawer’ and think about them, write to them, and pray for them. Most of the time, however, they were not on my mind very much.
As you can see, this was an advantage for these times and situations in my life. What you can’t see, unless you function like me, is that there are down sides to this.
I have always kept a prayer list, sometimes written down, and sometimes memorized. But if someone or a situation did not make it to my prayer list, I may not consciously think about them for a long time. This is not good for family or good friendships. I’ve worked hard in recent years to not be so black and white, in or out of my ‘drawer.’
In the past few weeks I became sharply aware of a situation I had shoved into a ‘drawer’ that really needed to be dealt with. Three very close friends, individually, asked me probing questions that made me ‘open this drawer.’ The first time, tears welled up in my eyes, I only said a few key words that she would understand what it was about, and quickly changed the subject. It wasn’t hard, we were interrupted and that was that.
The second friend was not satisfied with no explanation. I explained more about why this situation was so painful and voiced my frustration. I had come to realize that I did not cause this difficulty and I could not fix it for those involved. I told that to my friend and she said that would help her with a situation she is currently facing. Again, dealing with the situation was averted!
This last weekend a third friend asked probing questions about what was shoved into this ‘drawer.’ She has a very penetrating way of asking questions. She wasn’t concerned with the others involved. She was concerned for me and how I was reacting. I felt grief and hurt well up and begin to overflow. Then I felt anger. I literally ‘felt’ the anger. I realized that my voice was distorted. She asked a point blank question about what I was going to do about it. I said that if it were up to me, I would never have any more to do with this situation. She shrugged her shoulders and we went back to my house and listened to some beautiful music my husband was enjoying.
So how’s my ‘drawer’ now?
My third friend’s shrug kept coming to mind. She knew that at that time, I couldn’t be convinced to do anything about it. God wouldn’t let me shut that ‘drawer’ again. In any unguarded moment, it flooded back with tears and light.
I don’t believe God means for me to open myself to more hurt in this case, but that doesn’t mean closing into the darkness of my ‘drawer,’ the people involved. By keeping the ‘drawer’ closed, I was not letting God’s light in. In the darkness, bad attitudes, thoughts, and poison were growing.
Is that the end of it? No! I realize that God cares about everyone involved in this case. But, as His daughter, He is very concerned about me. I have opened that ‘drawer’ to God. I am allowing Him to show me the truth about it. I’m allowing Him to show me how to forgive and how to show grace. I want my life to shine as His light in this dark situation. There will probably be more tears and prayers, but I don’t think I’ll ever have such darkness in there again.
Do you have some ‘drawers’ in your life that have not seen God’s light for a long time? Why not open it and let God begin to redeem that darkness for His purposes?