After a time of both my husband and I being out of work for a long while, I started training for my new job yesterday. I am really enjoying it, and we are in every sense blessed; with friends, family, a loving church and the freedom to worship and praise the One who created me and everything around me at any given time or place.
But in some ways I feel like I’m revisiting the dusty rooms in my soul. The ones that we don’t go in very often. The ones that contain all those memories that we don’t want to have – the ones with hurt and pain, sometimes agony. The ones that make us feel tiny and worthless, disrespected, fearful, lonely, alone … if it makes you feel bad, then it likely belongs in the dusty rooms.
Then again, I’m sure I visit them on a daily basis, as I pace up and down, examining the dirt in disgust. Yet that’s where I want to stay, because it is my retreat, and it feels safer to hide away in a dusty old room than to face a world that is intimidating and demanding at the best of times.
“When an evil spirit leaves a person, it says ‘I will return to the person I came from.’ So it returns and finds that its former home is all swept and in order. Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before.” – Luke 11:24-26
Negativity breeds negativity, and it is a deadly cycle. Our environment is made up of other people, but also ourselves. I never quite understood Jesus’ parabel about the seven evil spirits, but I think it means that we need to fill ourselves with God to avoid evil. When we have got rid of the bad – a habit, an attitude, a behaviour – we need to replace it with something godly, otherwise it will replace itself.
So if you’re struggling with negative thoughts – if you find yourself stuck in your own dusty rooms, be reassured that you are not alone, and you are certainly not expected to be superhuman in finding the courage to move away from those familiar cobwebs. ‘Filling up’ on God will take time and effort, prayer and meditation – and it will not be easy. Jacob struggled with God, and I believe that we too will struggle with God as we tread our own, sometimes difficult paths.
Focusing on the outside can be extremely daunting. So build a safe network that you can fall back on. Create a room inside your soul that is comfortable and inviting, not just to yourself, but to others too. And remember, over and over, that Jesus did not die on a cross because He thought you could not make it. He did not die because He believed the human race to be lost beyond rescuing. In His kingdom, we are safe from everything – it’s up to us to take refuge there … or in our dusty rooms.