Grace Wipes and Love Spray

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The other day I was cleaning my bathroom. It was just like any other time I’d cleaned it – scrub the bathtub, wipe down the counter tops, bleach the toilet bowl, Windex the mirrors. But, before I could pack away all my cleaning supplies I noticed something. Out of the corner of my eye I saw that the bottom of the bathroom door was caked with dirt. GROSS!

It had never occurred to me before that I should be wiping down the door – let alone the bottom of it. It’s not like we touch that on a daily basis. In fact, I don’t know if I’ve ever touched that part of the bathroom door – ever. (Who would anyways?)

So, I got my Clorox wipes back out and began scrubbing and wiping and scrubbing again until the dirt came off and the door looked clean. There. NOW I’m done.

My mind always funnels. I over analyze and think deeply on some of the most “normal” situations. And this day was no different.

What if that dirt hadn’t displayed itself? Would I have ever cleaned that part of the door? How much nasty bacteria would be growing there if I never cleaned it? I wonder what other unknown parts of this bathroom are dirty?

You know, sometimes I feel like our hearts are like that door. Dirty, in need of a deep clean, but we don’t even acknowledge it or know its there.

Recently, I have done some digging. Like I said before, I constantly over think things, so when I became curious about the WHY behind some of my stupid decisions in the past, I couldn’t stop until I found an answer.

My family life was great. I was well aware of parent’s love for me. We were very involved in church. My parents both encourage spiritual growth (although I didn’t always listen). So what was it that caused me to stray so far from God?

Was it simply teenage rebellion? Did I not actually believe what was taught in church? Was I just stupid?

I searched and searched my life and prayed that God would reveal to me the answers I was looking for – the answers I needed.

Anne Lamott suggested in her book, Bird by Bird, to go all the way back to Kindergarten and start writing down any and all memories that came to mind. Her reason for this was to help the reader to find things to write about, but when I did the exercise God used it for so much more.

I started writing things about recess in Kindergarten, family talent shows in elementary, and summer camp in middle school. When I got to high school I didn’t like it – this boyfriend that boyfriend, this party that party.

Yuck.

Yuck.

YUCK.

The more I wrote down my memories the heavier I felt the weight of guilt, shame, and disgust. I didn’t cry, I’m not really a crier, but I did feel sad for my old self. I wanted to grab the high school me and scream “YOU ARE A CHILD OF GOD AND YOU ARE LOVED AS YOU ARE!”

Oh.

I see.

I was chasing love. Attention. Acceptance. Appreciation. Affection. Aren’t we all?

Around this same time I listened to a podcast titled “Trust vs Trying” from Cross Point Church. Pete Wilson was preaching about how we are hardwired to want those things (attention, acceptance, appreciation, and affection) and that “too much or too little is going to create imbalance…and drive us to make bad decisions”.

Think God was trying to communicate something to me? It gets better.

I went to Dairy Queen with my nine-month-old son. It was a nice day out and I needed to get out of the house. When we got there, there was a high school class whose teacher had brought them to DQ for an ice cream break. Highschoolers filled the entire place, inside and outside. I walked in and could literally feel the air get thicker. My mind started going down the long dark paths of insecurity.

“Do I look ok? Will I fit in? They probably think I’m weird with this huge stroller. I’m taking up so much space in this line. Ugh, I can’t wait to get out of here.”

I seriously laughed at myself on the ride home. I’m almost twenty-six years old. High school students should NOT intimidate me and I definitely should not care about their opinions like that. But, I did.

A “confident on the outside” girl left feeling insecure and unsure of herself once again. Those same feelings that I felt in that moment were the feelings that drove my crappy decision making in high school.

For so long I wore the disguise of confidence that I even fooled myself into thinking my “door” didn’t need cleaning. I could easily repeat the verses about grace and love, but to truly BELIEVE that was a completely different story.

Now that I had figured out the WHY, recognizing my need of approval and knowing I needed God to heal this area of my life, what next?

Just like my door, I needed to show my dirt. I needed to let go of my pride and admit I couldn’t do this without God. I needed to BRING it to Him to be cleaned.

Jesus performed many miracles of healing. As I studied the book of Matthew, I noticed a pattern. Almost every time Jesus performed these healing acts, the people had brought themselves (or had been brought by others) to Christ to be healed. They asked, begged, pleaded, and cried out. They displayed their dirt to God, had faith that he would bring healing to their lives, and then he healed them!

“Suddenly a man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus. He said, ‘Lord you have the power to make me well, if only you wanted to.’ Jesus put his hand on the man and said, ‘I want to! Now you are well.’ ” (Matthew 8:2-3, CEV)

“Large crowds came and brought many people who were paralyzed or blind or lame or unable to talk. They placed them, and many others, in front of Jesus, and he healed them all.” (Matthew 14:35b, CEV)

“News about him spread all over Syria, and people with every kind of sickness or disease were brought to him…Jesus healed them all.” (Matthew 4:24, CEV)

“Two men with demons in them came to him from the tombs…suddenly they shouted, ‘Jesus, Son of God, what do you want with us? Have you come to punish us before our time?’…Jesus told [the demons] to go, and they went out of the men…” (Matthew 8:28-29, 32, CEV)

You see, God promises to heal us and help us out, but he wants us to surrender ourselves and ASK him to heal us. Over and over again, people came to Jesus and asked to be healed. Over and over again is this theme of (1) acknowledging the need for God, (2) bringing the dirt to God, (3) having faith in his power, and then (4) being healed.

My dear friend, God is waiting patiently for you and I to bring him our dirty doors so that he can cleanse us with grace wipes and love spray. If we let our pride get in the way, we will continue to land “flat on [our faces]” (Proverbs 29:23, MSG), only dirtying ourselves up more. There is a beautiful freedom waiting for us at the end of this journey. All we have to do is ask.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out of religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30, MSG)

“Pile your troubles on God’s shoulders – he’ll carry your load, he’ll help you out.” (Psalm 55:22, MSG)

“Everyone who asks will receive. Everyone who searches will find. And the door will be opened for everyone who knocks.” (Matthew 7:8, CEV)

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