“Don’t leave the screen door open.” I heard this phrase many times in summers of childhood. My Granny would often remind me to keep the screen door closed that led to the garage closed. Her reasoning? “We don’t want to let the flies in.”
Flies in a house in summer, with no air conditioning, where food was being prepared was not a good combination. Once flies get in, they set up home fairly quickly.
Solid reasoning on Granny’s part for this request.
Yesterday, I came to a major realization: Grief has a way of leaving the screen door open of your heart. When the door is open, the flies of life have a way of setting up home in our hearts.
Flies are unattended guests in our lives. They buzz around, they eat and gnaw at whatever they can find. They reproduce quickly. And if not attended to, they will take over.
In the grieving process, I have left the screen door open to my heart. What has snuck in and taken up home is a lot of poor, faulty and negative thinking. Old scripts that I have worked hard to discard, old identities that I have left behind, have come back in. The shock of grief has turned up the heat in my heart and the environment is perfect for infestation. I write this, hopefully, to give others words for their lives. No one enjoys admitting their weaknesses or hurts, but these are mine.
My favorite faulty script goes something like this:
You are a failure.
You have messed up _______ (fill in the blank with varied areas of my life).
You will not get this right. You won’t recover from this.
It doesn’t matter anyway.
It doesn’t matter anyway…
Have you said that before? This inner dialogue we all have has a way of dominating our days. I have over the years learned to take these thoughts captive. I have been able to see this pattern emerging within me and have been able to pause and say/pray, “God these scripts do not come from you. This is not who I am. They are not mine to own or wear.”
I have seen progress. In some areas, it’s slow and hard work, in others it’s like a light bulb goes on and I feel a surge of new life. But, in acknowledging the truth, I have seen the fear of failure’s grip loosen.
When the door got cracked in grief after my mother died, the flies slipped in unnoticed. They gathered and have started to multiply. For a while, I just thought that this is what grief is supposed to be. Grief wears many faces and I have not seen them all — but I know what this faulty script looks and sounds like. I have seen it before and I have started reciting it again.
I have the lines memorized. It fits like comfortable pair of shoes. I was lacing them up for a path that lead to dark places, not towards the light.
So for you as a leader — I ask you this:
Has the shock of grief – either by death, loss, change – left the door of your heart open? If so, have any flies slipped in? Have some faulty scripts emerged that are causing harm to you and to others?
The only way that we can find rest and refuge is by crying out to the One that made us. Wisdom beyond us can set our hearts right. If we had the power on our own to fix ourselves, we would all be fixed, correct? But we are not. We need help from God. We need others around us to help us sort through our faulty scripts.
One of my favorite prayers is taken from the first few verses of Psalm 25: Lord, lead me, guide me and teach me (my paraphrase).
God help us sort our scripts. Let us hold to the good. Break the chains that bind us to the bad, faulty and death bringing scripts in our lives. Amen.