closed door

Shutting down and shutting out

I shut the door to my son’s room to muffle the sound of his screaming and crying from the other side, promising me he’d be a good listener if I would just please not send him to bed early.

I shut off the light in the kitchen so I wouldn’t have to see the sink full of dirty dishes and the stack of recycling waiting to be taken out.

I shut the lid to my laptop, deciding the 65 unread messages would have to wait another day and the blog post I’d been working on for days would go another night unfinished, unpublished.

I walked into my bedroom and shut the door on the unvacuumed floors, and unfinished science fair projects scattered from one end of the room to the other.

Then I lay on my bed and shut my eyes, wanting to shut out the day, the world.

And I heard a whisper deep within my soul “don’t shut me out, too.”

Here’s the thing: sometimes my day-to-day life feels like too much for me to handle and all I want to do is shut-down and pull the covers over my head. This week was one of those weeks. I felt like I was drowning in a sea of dirty dishes and conference calls. By Wednesday I was too tired to keep my head above water. That was the night I shut my bedroom door and, with tired body and depleted soul, collapsed into bed, hoping to escape from everyone and everything on the other side of that door.

But in those first moments after my head hit the pillow and I started to slip into self-pity, I heard God’s voice: “don’t shut me out, too.” And it was then that I realized I had not let God into my week. I had been so caught up in the long list of “to-do’s” I had failed to invite God into my messy kitchen, or cluttered family room for a visit. I didn’t ask Him to look at my full calendar or flooded inbox and give me guidance. Honestly, I don’t know if it was because I was so caught-up in my own “stuff” that I forgot to seek Him or if it was because a part of me felt like these little daily stresses were not important enough to take to Him. Maybe a little of both. But I can tell you that as soon as I realized what I had done, I felt a bit foolish.

In Isaiah chapter 41 God says, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand…For I hold you by your right hand—I, the LORD your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.'” (Isaiah 41: 10, 13, NLT)

Don’t you just love the imagery of God’s very words to His people? I read these verses and I can just feel Him by my side, wanting to be there and to comfort me.

I feel like I’m drowning in chores and work and parenting demands and God says “I will hold you up.” I feel like I am weak with fatigue and worry and He says “I will strengthen you and help you.” I am lost and unsure what to do next or how to get it all done and He says come, I will “hold you by your right hand” and lead you. I want to shut out the world and pull the covers over my head and He whispers, “Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.”

Isaiah 41:13

We are taught in Sunday school that there is nothing too big for God to handle, but we must remember there is nothing too small for Him either. He wants to be invited in to our messy house and our messy life. He wants to sit next to us and have a good long look at that “to-do” list and help us prioritize. He wants to hold our hand and help us take deep breaths when our children are throwing temper-tantrums.

My friends, whatever you are struggling with, whatever has you feeling drained and bested, don’t hide from it behind closed doors. I encourage you to invite God to come along side of you. Because there’s nothing He can’t handle…even dirty dishes.

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6 thoughts on “Shutting down and shutting out”

  1. This is the very reason we were given the Sabbath. To stop one day a week to turn our feet from doing our own pleasure or todo list and spend it only with the Father. Sure we should invite him into our lives daily but the Sabbath is his day he created for us to STOP and REST and spend time with him so we can be recharged for the other six days of work.
    Isaiah 58:13 “If because of the sabbath, you turn your foot From doing your own pleasure on My set apart day, And call the sabbath a delight, the holy day of Yahweh honorable, And honor it, desisting from your own ways, From seeking your own pleasure And speaking your own word,
    If we do as he has instructed us we recieve blessings. He knows what is best for us because he created us. He knew we would get carried away with aquiring and accomplishing and wear ourselves out so he created the Sabbath for us to stop once a week and take a breath to recharge our batteries in Him.
    Keep the Sabbath and see how the blessing begin to flow into your life.

    1. I agree that keeping a commitment to spend a day in worship and relationship with God is key to setting the tone of the rest of the week and much needed rejuvenation for our soul and rest for our bodies. However, for me anyway, I can quickly forget all of that calm and deplete my spirit by getting caught-up in the worldly obligations and distractions of daily life, especially with three young kids. So I have to remember to invite Him into my day and carry those burdens with me so that I stay centered and focused on Him and not on myself. Unfortunately this doesn’t always come naturally to me, which why I’m a work in progress!

  2. I can be a functional “shutter downer”-meaning I still move around and do stuff, but I cut off emotionally. Such a dangerous thing to do. When I go too long at that, I forget how to feel, or I don’t want to feel because it seems to intense. I want my heart to be tender to those around me, but most of all to God. Thanks for sharing your heart-got me wheels a turnin’! 🙂

  3. I have had so many days like yours. It’s amazing that I still haven’t learned to turn to God first. Thank you for sharing one of my favorite scripture verses. Beautiful post.

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