My home tells a story. There’s a shadow of a splatter on my living room wall from that one time my eldest son had an incident with an exploding yoghurt. There’s a hole in the back door of the shed from that one time we owned a dog that liked to eat things that were not food. There’s a faint orange highlighter mark on a cupboard door from that one time my youngest son was a two-year-old criminal. I don’t notice most of these things anymore because we have lived with them for so long. I’m blinded to the bumps and bruises in our home, crying out for attention because, well, life is busy, and highlighted cupboard doors don’t exactly hit ‘Emergency Status’.
It’s been a long time since I read it, but my home tells a story.
My heart tells a story too. There’s a dent in the corner from that one time the kid in the school library turned in his eye so it would look funny like mine. There’s a faint mark from that one time I lied to my friend so she wouldn’t hate me and ended up hating myself instead. There’s a crack from that one time I sobbed fat, midnight, teenage tears into my pillow, alone and scared, then smiled at the breakfast table to keep the peace. Nothing to see here.
I don’t notice most of these things anymore because I have lived with them for so long. I’m blinded to the bumps and bruises in my heart, crying out for attention because, well, life is busy, and long forgotten sin and pain don’t exactly hit ‘Emergency Status’.
It’s been a long time since I read it, but my heart tells a story and it is a story I cannot ignore.
As I turn to a fresh page, a new day, and begin to write again, I can still see the faint imprint of the inscription of yester-years. Its groove, its indent, hides just beneath the surface and sometimes as I try to write, my pen rolls into its old pattern, suddenly, unexpectedly, inconveniently. The truth is, a new day does not erase the old one. You cannot rip out the pages of your past any more than you can bulldoze your house to get rid of the yoghurt-splatter on your wall. And at the ripe old age of 37 I am discovering that you cannot ignore those pages either.
I’m not a deep-thinker. I don’t mull over things said or done. My motto has always been to make the most of what you’ve got, keep on moving, keep on smiling. Everything will be ok. And it is… until it isn’t, until your pen slips again into those old cracks in your heart that you forgot were even there.
Our hearts cry out for more than sunny optimism. They cry out for more than a fictional re-write, painting a brighter picture of our past than the one reality gave us. Our heart needs attention. It needs us to walk back and read its story. It needs us to look at the splatter and maybe for a moment feel the pain of it again. It needs us to see the ancient cracks and acknowledge the old ruins. Not so we can say, “Pity me, what a run-down, ramshackle heart have I.” No, we must read our heart’s story because then, and only then, are we positioned to restore what has been broken, to repair what has been damaged. When we acknowledge the pain of our past, we are released to write a better future.
I will always look on the bright side of life. It’s deeply ingrained in my DNA. But I am learning that it’s ok to not be ok with how things went and what was said and what was done. It’s ok to acknowledge the dirty marks on the pages and the wet ink where tears blurred words. In fact it’s more than ok. It’s imperative, for we cannot honour a past we do not fully see.
God is able and so very willing to help us mend our hearts. He is capable of a restoration work that will blow us away. But first of all, he must have our permission to walk around every room with him and take an honest look. Make note of where bitterness has eaten away at us like dry-rot and where disappointment has devastated a floor, where betrayal took a chunk out of the sideboard and shame drew on the walls. We must see it all and at the same time see Him; holy, good, clever God.
Your heart tells a story. If it’s been a long time since you read it, maybe it’s time to open the pages. Don’t be scared. He is with you, He is for you and He will mend you.