There is a room in my basement that I’m glad no one can see. It’s tucked away, past my craft room and laundry, through a small passageway under the stairs, just out of sight. There are spider webs. And spiders. And boxes. Lots of boxes.
I bet you have a room like this one, too. Maybe it’s a closet. The boxes that fill the room contain memories from the past, a few treasures, and lots of junk.
My storage room was a mess. I brought lots of boxes with me when we moved into this house 9 years ago. We stuck them in the storage room and only went back in to add more boxes. A year or two ago, Eric’s folks packed up boxes of his stuff and brought them to us. Between the two of us, we have a combined 60+ years worth of boxes.
I needed a place to store away our Christmas decorations and the kids’ hand me down clothes. I didn’t want to do it, but I also didn’t want boxes of decorations and clothes in the kids’ play room. Armed with a broom and dustpan, I was determined to rid the room of spiders and junk. I’m pretty sure I didn’t know what I was getting in to.
The easiest boxes to get rid of were the ones that contained miscellaneous junk I had stowed away to sell at a yard sale. The only thing I couldn’t figure out was how so much junk had made it into my life! I loaded up the van for a trip to the donation center of our local thrift store. Sadly, it wouldn’t all fit in the van. How sad is that!
The boxes of memories were the hardest to go through. Some of the boxes were a pure joy to explore. There was a tote filled with the leftovers from our wedding, napkins and flowers, a frilly white garter, programs and guest books, and a sixpence I’m keeping for the girls. I also found the books we used in our pre-marital class with the preacher. I nearly fell on the floor laughing and crying reading through those workbooks! Believe it or not, this was all Eric’s plan! He answered questions in the book, saying that he wanted 3 to 5 kids and a wife to stay at home with them when they were little. Apparently, our communication left a bit to be desired considering I spent the first few years of married life wondering if he would ever be ready for kids. Guess he got just what he wanted! ;)
Other boxes weren’t so easy to explore. Opening them brought memories that hurt. Memories of those we’ve lost. The baby that didn’t get to be born and held by his momma. The grandparents that have passed on. A rush of memories, some bitter and some sweet, was found in those boxes.
The hardest boxes and memories were the ones that reflected the girl I used to be. Looking through those was like looking in one of those terrible magnifying mirrors some people use to put on makeup. I leafed through her yearbooks. I read her old diaries. I saw her old pictures.
She was a mess. She was a hurt, scared, and confused mess. She was born into some difficult circumstances. A teenage mom raised her, doing the best she could (and a pretty good job, at that).
She was abused when she was five, in ways that a girl never recovers from. Her mom never knew because this stranger told her he would do terrible things if she told. She lived with the confusion for years.
She met her dad the same year that her beloved grandmother passed away. Her world ripped apart. It was set spinning, uncontrollably. She couldn’t tell up or down. She was angry. She was sad.
She carried that confusion into her teen years. She thought very little of herself. The good things of life were just enough to keep her going through a dark world. She blamed her mother. She just couldn’t understand how her mother could possibly love her. She felt like a mistake, unwanted and burdensome. It took her years and a few kids of her own to fully understand the truth of her mother’s love.
The end of her high school years left her in some kind of alternate universe. The rules had changed. She thought the rules were gone. She did some things that still break her heart. She was not smart. She was not good. She was wild and out of control. She broke the hearts of those who love her.
God must have had angels looking out for her. They were fighting for her heart. Praise Him, they won. They didn’t give up on the broken girl. Her loved ones didn’t give up either. Their prayers were heard. She woke up. The terrifying darkness began to lift.
She is not the same girl any longer.
Going through the boxes was much harder than I thought it would be. Though I didn’t throw away much, I did burn the diaries. Some memories are not worth keeping. I burned the anger and frustration I felt. I burned it with the diaries. I let go.
I wish I could change my past. I wish I could tell that girl to treasure the good stuff more and help her to let go of the bad. I wish I could change what she did. I can’t. I am who I am. The ugly lines are part of me just as the beautiful lines are a part of me.
I wonder what others see when they look at me. Do they see the ugly, or is it forgiven? How can I forgive myself for the sins in my life?
I know that God has forgiven my ugliness, though it’s so hard to imagine He could. God is using the ugliness of my life to bring about beautiful things, kind of like manure on a garden. He is healing me and making me something worthwhile. He is using me to help others who hurt. He lets the scars remain in my life so that I can feel the hurt of others who are wounded.
Looking around, I see lots of faces. Behind the faces, I know there are hearts. Those hearts are filled with boxes of memories and junk. Some of those hearts have been healed. Some are writhing in pain. My scars help me feel the pain in their lives. Finally, I can look at my scars and see a bit of beauty.
Those scars allow me to love those broken people. Those scars prompt me to hug them. My scars make me care. They remind me to pray. My scars keep me from forgetting.
I bet everyone has a room they would rather not have anyone see. A room that is filled with cobwebs and memories, pain and sorrow. We can all bring a little light and love to those who hurt, just by remembering our own scars. Some memories are worth remembering, even if it hurts.
*A little disclaimer…
This post looks back at the hard stuff of my life. It is helpful to me to do so and hopefully helpful to others who read it. We all have hard stuff in our lives. We all have hurts. We all have sins that have impacted us.
Just to be fair, I want to be sure everyone knows that I was also very lucky to be loved by a great family. My childhood had it's sadness, but it also had it's magical moments and great fun. Thanks so much for sharing your lives with me. Thanks for letting me share mine... Even the more difficult parts.