This weekend I'm celebrating my thirty-eighth year of life. It’s been quite a year, and I've learned more about myself and the world I live in than in the previous thirty-seven years combined.
I’ve let go of the things I thought I should be, and have instead embraced my truth. "Should" is a damaging concept. By getting honest with myself about where I was in my life, I've been better able to steer my ship toward the shore I truly want to reach. Before I was navigating in a storm with broken instruments; I wasn't doing it on purpose, and it was hard to admit it to myself. No one steers themselves into the rocks intentionally. Pride sunk the Titanic, and I was no different. It took a huge effort to overcome my pride, which is just fear in disguise. But once I admitted that I was being ruled by fear, I decided to roll up my sleeves and get to work.
It's hard to take an honest look at yourself, because it exposes all the cobwebs you think you cleared out years ago. And over time, those cobwebs have grown and contorted themselves into giant, overgrown forests full of rotting carcasses. It isn't pretty, and it doesn't smell nice.
But I'm not afraid of hard work. I know the value of chipping away at something overwhelming: you start in one corner of the room, and working square inch by square inch, you eventually find yourself in the opposite corner of a sparkling clean space. You turn around, take a look at the work you've done, and feel really good about yourself for doing it.
Of course, then you open the next door, and there's an entirely new room to clean.
So many people are scared of opening up their innermost rooms because they fear the cobwebs they'll find. And they're right: the things I found in my dark places were worse than anything I could have imagined. For more than three decades, every time I got the slightest glimpse of the mess, I shut the door again as quickly as I could. Out of sight, out of mind.
But if you've ever lived in a messy home, you know all too well that closing the door to a filthy room does nothing to clean it. The dirt gets a little dirtier, and the stains settle into permanent scars. Is there anything more overwhelming than opening that door to have an honest look at the mess?
It took me thirty-seven years, but I finally mustered the courage to open the door. And once I was done cleaning that room, I opened another one. And another. Cleaning house is addicting in the best way, and I never intend to stop. I've got a lot more work to do, and it will take a lifetime to get to it all. Rather than being overwhelmed by that, I feel encouraged. Each room I clean is one less mess for my kids to inherit. I was taught to leave a space cleaner than I found it; so that's what I'm going to do, for as long as I'm able to do it.
Here's to opening doors.