What’s Going On Inside?

Some of you know the story about my friend who wouldn’t let anyone into her house.  It was a beautiful – even palatial – home with lovely landscaping on a sunny street.  Even her longtime friends  – people who’d known her for 50 years – would confide in me that they had never been inside her home.

She in no way seemed to be a hoarder.  In fact, she was fastidious about her appearance and her whole life seemed steady and happy.

When she was sick, I took casseroles over and when she met me at the door, she wedged it open just enough to take my lasagna and thank me.  I remember seeing a fine chandelier hanging from the ceiling in the entryway but that was all I could see.

After several years of attempts, this thing felt like a challenge.  I really wanted to see the inside of her house. I brought TBC with me, armed with the Girl Scout Cookies my friend had ordered.

(And now here comes the True Confessions part of this story.)

I instructed young TBC that – when this friend opened her front door – TBC should wedge the door open with her little foot.  It worked.

While handing the bag of Thin Mints through the doorway and then preventing the door from closing quickly, we saw the inside of this house.  Finally.

It was empty.

I don’t know why, but it was empty. No furniture, lamps, rugs, nothing.  The home of this perfectly kempt woman was devoid of any sign of daily living in there.  She was the opposite of a hoarder.

We almost never know what’s really going on inside.  Inside a home.  Inside someone’s head.  Inside another person’s body.

I always feel for people with back problems because we often can’t see any sign of the pain – outwardly.  (We tend to castigate these people who park in handicapped spaces without benefit of a wheelchair or even a limp.)  The truth is that we have no idea what’s going on inside their bodies.

Even for those of us who call ourselves “an open book” there are things nobody knows about what’s going on inside except for God.  This is a long way of saying that we need to be gracious and cognizant of the fact that we don’t know what’s behind a closed door – literally or figuratively.

  • The perfectly happy family is certainly imperfect.
  • The angry child is actually scared or in pain.
  • The impressive organization might be teetering on collapse if we look closely.
  • And the small congregation might be rock solid in terms of deep peace and abiding faith.

This is the perfect time to be lavish grace-givers.  God knows we need to address our fear, our anger, our anxiety, and our irritability with grace towards ourselves and each other.  Grace is what God offers us and grace is what God expects us to offer each other.

Breathe.  The pandemic will be over some day.  And the election will be over soon -ish.

 

2 responses to “What’s Going On Inside?

  1. Thank you for this story, Jan. And the conclusion–so very true that we never know. I have one: When I was in hospital training (aka CPE), a woman in my group told of being the only daughter in the middle of four sons. When she was four, her mother began withdrawing all affection from her; the message was that she wasn’t worth the attention because she was female. I asked her if the experience made it difficult for her to connect with God portrayed as male. She replied that it was a total obstacle, and I thought of Paul advising the Corinthians to refrain from eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols, even though they knew there was no problem with it, because it might put an obstacle in the way of someone else’s faith. This became the foundation for my avoiding masculine pronouns for God: I never know who’s listening, or what’s inside them, so it’s on me to avoid obstructing their way to God.

    Liked by 1 person

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