First, let me acknowledge that I am just a lil bit embarrassed to share that the photo above is a real-life photo of my desk in my bedroom taken only a few days ago. I know, I know, when I go live on social media, everyone gets to see the nice clean desk with my lovely gold backdrop, and plants, and sunshine coming through the window, and my ring light perfectly positioned to make everything pretty. Yet, if we’re honest for a moment, we would observe that we all have one of these situations happening in our lives. You know – there’s the nice polished version of us that everyone gets to see, but in some hidden, “behind closed doors” kind of space, there’s a drawer, a closet, a plain old dusty shoe box, full of stuff we’ll “get around to” dealing with someday.
I mean, I did promise that this second go round on this journey, you’re gonna get some real before’s and after’s…
So, let me give you a more accurate picture of what’s happening…well…in the picture:
There has been so much clutter on this desk – probably since Coronavirus and quarantine started – that not only had the desk become covered, with papers and other items – including some “lost” items of value, but I’ll get to that in a moment – BUT the actual color of the desk surface had started to fade. The desk itself had started to BOW in the middle under the sheer weight of the items piled on top of it. So much so, that the cute little center drawer it has was pushed down off it’s track and fell out.
Ready for a bit more unkempt truth?
My horribly disordered and damaged desk looked a lot like me inside since Coronavirus and quarantine started. Picture this, March 2020 – okay, this isn’t a Golden Girls episode – but at the start of quarantine, I wasn’t in the greatest shape (mentally and emotionally), but I was managing to hold it together on the outside (and physically in the best shape of my life). In fact, for some of you reading this who may know me personally, you very well may not have realized that anything was wrong or off. Remember that beautiful, picture-ready “other” desk that I have for recording? Yup! That’s the version of me I thought the people around me could handle, so that’s what I put on display. Yet, in reality, I felt like the desk – one thing happened, and then another one piled on, and then something else came at me from the direction I wasn’t looking in, leaving me blindsided and disappointed.
At first, I thought I was bearing up under the weight just fine, and kept telling myself it would all be okay, because “it’s not that much stuff”, “it’s not that bad”, “I’m gonna get it back together really soon.” Yet, just like one paper and one notebook and one pen on that hidden desk gradually accumulated into the overwhelming cleaning task I no longer wanted to touch, my internal state became much the same. So I locked my invisible internal door, and decided to pretend like I didn’t see it because every time I looked at it – just like looking at that desk – I felt overwhelmed, and frustrated, and disappointed all over again. And just like that desk, I was starting to lose my luster, I was starting to not look quite like myself. Inside, my decision making power was slipping, and just like the color of the desk faded, my boundaries, my standards, my personal “rules to live by” slipped as well. And just like that desk, I started to bend under the pressure.
And I broke. I was hurt and I hurt others around me. And then I was ashamed.
And it was in this very moment when I knew that the bottom fell out, that I became MOST thankful for God’s grace. I don’t think I’ve ever understood grace like I did right in that moment. One of the definitions I’ve used when talking about grace is that it leaves us the room to be wrong. And boy did I need it. In that moment, GRACE said, “I know where you’ve been and I know where you are, but there is HOPE on the other side of this place.” And in that moment, God asked one thing of me – “Will you give up the beautiful façade so that I can mend the broken pieces?” And in that moment, I gave God my yes, I mean a REAL yes. One without the ability or the desire to put on a show. Something shifted in me.
And one by one, piece by piece, just like I went through the process of clearing off my “hidden” desk, shredding all of the unnecessary papers, throwing out the dead pens and junk, getting rid of the random, useless conference badges and folders, and collecting all of the random notes I had written in moments when I knew the Lord was speaking with me about something, God began to clear up the broken pieces of me. He began to sift through the load I was bearing, clearly defining what in the pile was mine, and throwing out the labels, the mental and emotional burdens, and the trauma that didn’t even belong to me. Some of the stuff you may be carrying ain’t even YOUR load to bear!
And as God cleared away the clutter, He didn’t just find junk.
Hear me clearly – you need to “clear it out” because there is TREASURE in you waiting to be revealed!
As I sorted through the mess, I discovered items of great value to me that I had not seen in a very long time. Among the pile, I found my prayer journal, a note I wrote as a reminder to myself just after I finished writing my book 40 Days Lighter, and an envelope with untouched gift cards. That’s right – there were items of personal value and there were actual “resources” lost in the shuffle of my overburdened desk.
And at the very bottom of the pile, surprisingly unfaded and still intact, was this cut out quote, probably meant for a vision board that I never got around to starting, that simply said: “Tomorrow’s milestones begin today.”
Tonight, I simply want to encourage someone who just knows that you are moments away from breaking under the pressure of the weight you’ve been carrying. You’re scared of who you have become, almost unable to recognized the person who looks back at you in the mirror, all the while showing everyone else a perfectly curated Instagram feed version of your life.
God sees you. God knows you. God cares for you. And HE wants to help you clear it all out. The process might be uncomfortable right now, but I promise you, the finished product will be worth the pain.
Remember, your tomorrow is waiting.
Here are some ways to “clear it out” so that you can live lighter:
1. Delete unnecessary, unwanted or “this was never going to see the light of day” photos from your phone.
2. Review emails and un-flag or hit “complete” on emails that were marked important, but were dealt with and left in your “Important” folder. Probably a good idea – this helps the urgent to look…well…urgent.
3. Be intentional with your time, especially first thing in the morning and last thing at night. If you know he or she is not the one, then there is no need to text them and wait anxiously for a response that often leads to temporary gratification, but long-term un-fulfillment. Instead, reserve that time to pray, read, meditate and write before starting anything else for the day.
4. Clean out your wallet. I’m always shocked at how many little pieces of paper can accumulate in such a tiny space. If you’re feeling brave, tackle that oversized purse…Andrea St. Louis, 40 Days Lighter: A Devotional Journey Determined to Live Free