Posted by: karanoel | December 7, 2017

Let it go, let it go

Decorating is not a gift I naturally possess, which frustrates me to no end. Not only do I thoroughly appreciate well-designed spaces, but I also enjoy attempting to create them myself… until I fail and the fun ends, making me feel like the perpetual Salieri with great passion but the inability to express it, while beauty pours effortlessly from the Mozarts around me (you saw Amadeus, right?).

Dino Bedding

Big boy bedding

Chase’s room needed an update since he is now five and it still looked like a nursery. Eventually we will need to swap out some furniture, but for now I thought some older-kid decor would do the trick without breaking the bank. After an enjoyable field trip to TJ Maxx, I took my souvenirs home, hung them on the wall and arranged them on the bookshelf. And then I hung them on a different wall and rearranged the bookshelf. And then I hung them higher on that wall. And so on and so forth until I stuck half the items back in my car to return, decided the partly decorated room was ‘maybe, possibly better than before, but I’m not really sure since I suck at this,’ and called it a day.

When John went into Chase’s room that evening, he immediately asked if we needed all the tchotchkes I’d purchased and wondered how much I’d spent on them. It was a fair question, especially since we’ve ended up with cupboards of unwanted frames and knick knacks when I changed my mind about their desirability. He meant no harm, but in light of my earnest effort in this very sensitive area, it hurt.

Angry frilly lizard

My defensive look

Now, I am a generally a kind, fairly mild person. But when I feel attacked or misunderstood, I turn into a ruthlessly fierce creature defending my territory with bared teeth, growls and a counterattack. Fortunately, on this occasion, the transgression wasn’t deep enough to draw out my very worst. But I did launch into a very defensive monologue about how “I’m just trying to make this rental feel homey” and, “hey, I was trying to save you money by buying decorations instead of furniture” and “you do realize that most everything we used for Chase’s nursery was hand-me-downs, right?” [which, for the record, was because I didn’t want to spend the money on a brand new nursery]

John kindly explained that it was an offhand comment and he didn’t mean anything significant by it. He just didn’t want to spend money on what we wouldn’t use, but apparently it wasn’t really a big deal to him. Clearly it was to me, though, because even after the conversation ended, my mind kept going in circles defending myself and, perhaps, attacking John. I felt so lame that I couldn’t just let it go, and knew the answer wasn’t trying harder to make him understand where I was coming from. The Lord broke through my mental merry-go-round with a gentle, but profound truth: I was stuck because I had taken up an offense.

An offense is technically “a resentment brought about by a perceived insult.” I think it is often (or always?) just a protective reaction to feeling hurt or misunderstood – one that feels very justified and quite logical. It assumes it has assessed the situation rightly, attaches judgments to people or their intentions, draws conclusions about what the experience means and determines how justice should be enacted. None of this actually heals the initial hurt, but rather builds a fortress around it to keep it safe and alive. This is how some people who experienced hurt more than 50 years ago are as emotionally charged when talking about it as if the experience happened yesterday.

God can heal our hurts, rather easily actually, and can draw beauty from even the most painful encounters, but He is a gentleman and will not force His way past the defenses we erect… which is such a lovely thing. But it means it has to be our choice to let the walls down; to trust that He has a better way than our resentment and the control we think it gives us (when in reality it controls us). It takes great humility to be willing to hear a different narrative than the one running through our heads and throbbing in our emotions. And it requires immense vulnerability to entrust God with our raw, tender hearts. But rest assured that any part of us that is exposed to the light of God and His deep care for us will be healed and restored. It is as certain as the law of gravity. It’s no wonder the enemy works so hard to keep the offense alive.

I have so much more to I’d like to say about this, but will instead finish my story. I got unstuck quicker than the blink of an eye. Along with the offense went a whole slew of exhausting things, like my need to manage John’s perceptions of me, to defend my motives and actions, and even to be loved or understood in a particular way. As those walls fell down, my arguments were rendered irrelevant and the most divine silence fell. I was able to open my heart wide open again to this husband I love as God touched the hurt and used the whole experience to transform part of my understanding that I’ve struggled with.

He even gave me another opportunity to practice with someone else I love during the Thanksgiving holiday. Her words (unintentionally) stung deeply, sending my mind into wild defensiveness complete with passionate counterattacks and a determination that she couldn’t be trusted with my heart. Once I remembered the lesson to let go of the offense, my walls came down. Tears flowed freely (though discreetly) through the trailers of Thor as I poured out my exposed pain to the Lord and, I kid you not, my heart was healed by time the movie started… for which I was grateful because it was a terrific movie. The rest of our time together was as sweet as it’s ever been, without a single barrier between us. If that’s not freedom, I don’t know what is.

If this holds true for us, how much greater does it hold true for God who must then hold no offense against us. There is no wall up in His heart towards us, no matter how greatly we wrong Him. I’ve hardly ever known a thought so sweet. Maybe that is what it looks like when the Bible says “love covers a multitude of sins.” They are all buried, never to be found again, in this beautiful expanse of a Heart so much bigger and deeper and wider than we could ever imagine. 

Even if this doesn’t translate to being Mozarts of this world, at least we will know that we can be the most vibrantly free Salieris who ever walked the earth 🙂


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