It’s a name of a TV show that I’ve never watched. However, the title of the show came to mind recently because of something I did last weekend. Something that I’m a bit embarrassed about on one hand, a bit proud of on another hand, and intrigued about on yet another hand. (How many hands does one get in an allegory like this? Who knows?)
I have been mulling this subject over off and on for over a week because I just wasn’t sure which direction to take it. To tell you the truth, I’m still not sure where this is going but here is what happened.
Hanging in one of the ends of my closet was a suit I wore in the Work (ministry); one I would preach in and/or wear to meetings, funerals etc. It has been 16 years since I left the work, and I probably wore this suit for a couple of years more after leaving.
I have been on a house purging project for a few weeks now where every weekend I give away or toss at least one bag, box, or sack of something out of the house. I knew this suit was hanging back there and when I reached for it, instead of one, I discovered 4 worker suits! I had no idea there were that many still “hanging around“! They have been hibernating back there in their plastic dry cleaning bags for at least the 13 years that I have lived in this house!
I had to question… “why on earth had I held on to them all this time?”
This isn’t going to turn into some deep psychological issue but I do think there is a message here for me. I’m not going to write at length about the need to ‘let go’ of things, feelings, etc either because many really good books have been written on that subject and I could never improve on them. However, there are some spiritual parallels that have come to mind that perhaps “fit“.
Here is the thought process I went through to answer the “why” of my question.
I held on to them because of sentimental value largely. Most of them were purchased for me by a dear aunt & uncle and they were expensive. My aunt never wanted me to be a dowdy sister worker!
Because they were expensive, I didn’t want to just throw them away and it was even hard to give them to charity. I didn’t know what to do with them, to tell you the truth.
I pulled them all out and tried a couple of the jackets on; even though I knew none of them would fit any more. The skirts were ridiculously long, the jackets felt heavy. I never have occasion to wear a suit anymore and if I did, I would get a new one. These were outdated. The skirts that had elastic in them…the elastic had become brittle and crunchy.
I let the memories of wearing them flood back in, was thankful I had had such nice clothes to wear in that time of my life, put them back in their bags and took them to charity.
They were the last tangible things left from those years in the ministry. They no longer fit me, fit my lifestyle, or fit where I now am spiritually. The hesitancy to let go of them reminded me of what Jesus said about trying to put new wine into old wineskins. You just can’t do it.
Richard Rohr says in his book, “Falling Upward”:
“if we do not get some new wine skins, the wine and the wine skin will both be lost. The second half of life can hold some new wine because by then there should be some strong wine skins, some tested ways of holding our lives together. But that normally means that the container itself has to stretch, die in its present form, or even replace itself with something better. This is the big rub, as they say, but also the very source of our midlife excitement and discovery.”
So was getting rid of the suits symbolic of examining what no longer fits in my thinking or my routine? Was it about simply creating an empty space to rest in and breathe in? It has felt so good every time I have gotten rid of something out of the house. To just have a bit more clean, empty space in which to live without feeling cluttered or cramped.
Perhaps God is moving me in a direction spiritually also to make room for something new and different. It is so tempting to stay where it feels comfortable and predictable even when it might not be working anymore, or bringing me any joy anymore. But I don’t want to live like that.
I feel like I’m on the cusp of something but I don’t know what it is yet. But with God involved, it will be exciting and never boring. That I know. Tradition and even church can become boring if they stay on the surface of life and never get past the doing, the achieving, the climbing, the comparing, the judging, the “we’re better than you” mentality (which I did both in and out of the meetings), and I never get to God Himself. To let Him lead, teach, move, change, and direct. To live in the weightier matters of life.
Rohr also says:
“In the beginning (of life), you tend to think that God really cares about your exact posture, the exact day of the week for public prayer, the authorship and wordings of your prayers, and other such things. Once your life has become a constant communion, you know that all the techniques, formulas, sacraments, and practices were just a dress rehearsal for the real thing – life itself – which can actually become a constant intentional prayer. Your conscious and loving existence gives glory to God.”
Totally letting go of my agenda and being open to ask God to reveal to me areas in my thinking that are causing me to be stuck is scary but also intriguing. All I need is a little faith and a lot of trust!