A few weeks ago, I got rid of my 22-year-old lace curtains and purchased new (hopefully a bit more modern) ones. Because of the style change, my once-hidden windows were now fully exposed and the dirt was thick. So, I did it. I washed the windows*. Now, dear reader, you need to understand that my ancient home boasts 23 windows, 21 of which have storms–heavy, antique storms. It proved to be a Big Deal and my dear husband, although a trooper, was a little annoyed at the level of his involvement (which was both necessary and vital because I’m not that strong or handy). When we finished, it felt like a huge accomplishment and my nice, clean view of the outside world thrilled me. Literally, the house felt lighter.
I needed new curtains. I wanted new curtains. And my new curtains look great. However, my incredibly dirty windows overshadowed my new curtains. Until I cleaned the underlying grime on my windows, the appearance of the curtains didn’t matter much. But here’s the thing, washing the windows in my old house was an arduous task (which is why I hadn’t done it in so long). It required help from my husband. It required time and strength and elbow grease and ladders and tools and that was just the prep work. For the actual washing of the windows, it required cleanser and newspapers.** Washing my dirty windows wasn’t a quick or easy job and I can’t just do it once and never again. As long as I live in this house, the windows will get dirty and I’ll have to periodically repeat the process.
As I stood on the ladder, sweating and scrubbing, trying not to fall and honestly, cursing under my breath, I couldn’t help but think of the window-washing that our lives need. We can begin new habits. We can change behaviors, but until there is healing of our hearts, the change is only superficial. Until we do the hard work of removing the layers–prying away the storms– and scrubbing each clean, we won’t see the outside world clearly. We’ll be looking through layers of our dirt. The filth might be caused by childhood trauma, rebellious mistakes, or profound loss. But no matter the cause, if we’ve lived without processing and healing, the dirt builds up and our perspective clouds. It’s difficult to see people and situations truthfully or objectively because we view everything through our messy filter. We take things personally. We hold grudges. We envy others. We make excuses for our mistakes instead of owning them. We may think others are out to get us. Whatever dirt cakes our view makes others look yucky too. And it’s no way to live and it’s not fair to the people in our lives.
Grief is a hard road to healing. Counseling to overcome childhood trauma is a hard road to healing. Confronting family members and dealing with crap is a hard road to healing. Honestly evaluating your own choices and the motives behind them is difficult and often digs up even more stuff, and is a hard road to healing. Getting out of debt and dealing with financial mistakes and burdens is painful and is a hard road to healing. But if we want to be mature, healthy, functioning people, we have to clean up the crap and stop covering up the dirt and living with 22-year-old curtains.
I don’t know what your view is today.
Maybe you’re realizing just how dingy the windows are and you’re sick of it. Seek help. Ask someone you trust (or at least respect) where to begin.
Maybe you’re in the middle of a hard road to healing. If you are, you can do it–truly, you can do this–your view will not always be so cloudy. You will see the sun shining brighter.
Maybe you’ve walked that hard road and are experiencing a fuller, healthier life. If that’s the case, travel alongside someone struggling today.Tell them your story. Be a voice of encouragement and hope for them.
No matter where you find yourself this morning, I pray for God’s strength, healing and hope for your heart.
*side-note: it started raining within 24 hours and didn’t quit for several days. Of course.
**my Mom-in-law’s cleaning tip from eons ago: use newspapers instead of paper towels or rags–it’s cheaper & won’t leave any lint or residue.