We all open and close doors every day: doors to our house or apartment, garage doors, office doors, classroom doors, bathroom doors, bedroom doors, car doors … on and on.
Like everyone, I opened and closed a lot of doors today, but one stands out among them all.
I’m thinking of a specific door that I closed today and never will again – ever. It’s the door to my childhood home. Tomorrow the house that my parents built and lived in for 60 plus years of their married life, will be sold and will pass into the hands of a stranger.
Over the years I’ve chalked up many different memories of closing the door of my parental home:
- as a kid full of energy running in and out – being told by my mom time and again to close the door to keep the flies out in the summer, to keep the cold out in the winter
- being reminded often not to slam the door – to close it gently
- closing the door many times after saying goodbye to a good friend or visiting family member
- closing the door as Peter and I set out as newlyweds on our honeymoon – a trip to a coastal village in Newfoundland for a summer internship
- closing the door the evening of my dad’s death as my siblings and I left with our mom to go to the hospital before dad’s body was taken to the morgue
- closing the door the morning we moved my mom to a seniors’ residence, knowing she would probably not pass this way again
- closing the door many times these last 3 years as my siblings and I took away garbage and donations and treasures while cleaning out the house
- and then today, as I closed the door for the final time – the door of my once full and happy childhood home, each room now an empty shell. Despite my sadness, I could not help but remember a little joke that I’m sure would make my mom laugh: “The shells are here, but the nuts are gone!” I freely admit that our family was, and continues to be, just a bit nutty. But we love to laugh and have fun. That’s what I remember most.
So a chapter in my family’s life – in my life – is over now. Closing that door today was bittersweet indeed! Yes, I’m sad. Endings usually make me sad. But I can also smile in the midst of grief and give thanks for what I had. I am blessed with countless treasured memories. And I am grateful for the new season to come.
This fall I’ve been taking a course called “Griefshare” at my church. It’s a small group that focuses on Christian teaching about various aspects of the life journey from grief to joy. There is opportunity for participants to share personal stories of grief, as well as challenges they’ve faced in walking through the grieving season. We encourage each other, share tips and ideas, and we pray. I’ve found it enormously helpful.
One gem I wrote down a couple weeks ago from the Griefshare teaching was the simple reminder that “our sadness is not for eternity, but for this present life.”
To be sure, amidst the many blessings, the hand each of us is dealt in this life will sooner or later contain heartbreak, adversity, injustice and pain. It’s the result of living in a fallen world where sin seeks to rule.
Singer Jeremy Camp has written a moving song, born out of his own personal times of suffering and difficulty. He encourages us to hold onto God’s promises. “There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears. There will be a day when the burdens of this place will be no more. We’ll see Jesus face to face.”
While we’re here on this earth we will hurt because we are human. But while we’re here, we can also take courage and be willing to share the hope we have in Christ.
On this day of “closing the door”, I take heart when I recall a promise Jesus himself made: “… I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.” (Revelation 3:8) It’s the open door of vision and purpose. It’s the open door of a personal and eternal relationship with Jesus.
Promises like this make days like today bearable for me. I have hope. I have something wonderful to look forward to. I have a happy and contented heart. I have Jesus.
Can you say the same?