Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Back Door and Letting Go

It is so easy to open the front door to amazing people, behaviors and situations that seem to work and are pleasing at the time. It's where a lot of us receive big mysterious packages, long awaited government documents allowing for adoptions and mail from long lost friends. This is the door that cherished friends walk through to spend time chatting over a messy counter and undone dishes while kids run wild outside. The front door of our lives can let in so much joy.

But the back door is a different story. Everyone has one....not everyone uses it. For instance, let's evaluate that cool haircut that was so popular in the eighties. One remembers the compliments and the admiring looks as a result of the new do. But after a decade (or two) when it becomes the new needs to be shown the back door. However, many people have shown that they don't have a back door in this regard and the hairstyle that won them so many accolades years ago, now has the younger generation snapping cell phone photos to take home to post on the Internet.

Or............ how about those jeans that now require you to lay down on your bed to button only to have you look like an overgrown sausage link when you return to an upright position gasping for air? But the memory of them fitting like a glove and attracting your current spouse just won't leave and you go into oxygen deprivation just one more time to have "the look" back. Unfortunately, "the look" now has vultures circling above due to your shallow breathing and stray hungry dogs licking their chops. After several children, topped with a few years and a belly that now resembles a Sharpei puppy, it is time to kick these national treasures out your back door.

I'm still not done with the clothing bit. Many husbands have a t-shirt (or two) that they love so much, that they vehemently refuse to retire them. I am talking about the ones where there are stains from who-knows-what and numerous tiny holes from too much bleaching. It is important to note that these innocent holes are big enough to allow sprigs of chest foliage to poke through making their chest (or back) look like a dog with mange (if you squint really hard). No question about it, fling the back door open and toss this diseased and suffering possession out....when he's at work.

I would go into the example of my husband's prized,
unused 20 year old juicer and my "almost-marriage-ending" trip to Goodwill with it.....but I have to save some material for another post.

From humorous examples, we can all see the need for a back door in our lives. But, if you know me well enough, you know that there is a serious side to this as well. Back doors can be an unpleasant part of our lives. They are the doors you use to go through when you realize things need to be changed or taken out like....the garbage, shoes too foul smelling for human lungs, a pet that needs to relieve itself, a dessert that needs to be eaten in secrecy or a private conversation with a spouse that you don't want the kids to hear........

But on a more symbolic level, it is the location where we need to decide what stays and what goes in our lives. Many of us fear change, pain and the unknown so a deadbolt locking the door from the outside is implemented. We hang on to possessions, behaviors, beliefs and people that are begging for us to unlock the back door and to be let out.....but we hold these things hostage because we don't trust what our life would be like without them. Can you imagine what a household or a life becomes when things are let in but never let out? It comes to a point where one can not let anything in anymore......there is just no room. The word rancid and stagnate come to mind. It is my opinion that this grain of sand causes the pearl of hoarding. The fear of letting go. The lack of trust that better is yet to come.

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:18-19)

But not letting things go is like holding a struggling, scratching cat. It would have been easier just to have let it jump off your lap when it needed to go.

When the deadbolt is taken off, sometimes it feels really good to let the obvious things go........this is when it is easy, freeing and fun. But what about the situations that you want to hold on to like the dream that you realize may never happen, an addiction that has helped you cope.....(or at least you thought it did) or a life long friend or family member that no longer wants it to be "life long"? For me, this has been the hardest part of keeping my back door unlocked....the friends or family that have chosen to walk out through it.

I guess the big question is, once you take the deadbolt off, how to decide when to use the back door and what you will let out of it. Here is my well researched and profound answer:

I don't know.

.... And as many times as we have a sense and an obligation of what needs to go, there are many times we don't have this. I mean, think about what Abraham must of felt or thought when the Lord asked him to sacrifice his only son. I am sure this was not something he thought needed to go out the back door of his life. Or how about Ezekiel and the mandatory loss of his wife for symbolic reasons in his prophetic ministry? How about Job? If you asked him beforehand, do you think he saw the need to lose all he had and loved dearly out the back door of his life just so God could prove a point to Satan? Or even better yet, how about Mary and the potential loss of her reputation and life due to an unplanned pregnancy and then the eventual violent death of her firstborn son. Do you think she had a sense that all of this needed to go? Do you think any of these biblical figures realized that keeping their back doors obediently unlocked would leave a legacy affecting generations down the road......and for Mary's actions, an eternal legacy on which we can rest our future hopes?

This post is inspired by a situation that is causing pain and reflection for me. It is being used to remind me that many times we to have open our back door and let the wintry cold air of loss come through our lives in order to move on. In no way to I have this "back door" stuff perfected and nailed down. It has caused me to re-evaluate what needs to be fought for, changed and left behind. Yes, the back door is being used even as we speak and I will trust it is for a greater purpose.

So what is it I really want to say with this post?
Keep the front door of your life inviting and your back door unlocked. Trust that the reason things or people leave through it contains a future value or blessing that may be unknown to you. If you are insistent on keeping your back door locked, realize you may be fighting against the very life the Lord has planned just for you.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)


  1. Thank you Thea for this. I am in a season where family and friends are using my back door and I ache that it is happening. I catch myself standing in front of the door blocking it! Thank you for helping me see God's purpose in it. I love you dearly! I'm also wondering how you snapped that picture of me buttoning my jeans?