I think it is safe to say that most of us hope that the coming year is going to be better than the last. That more joy, more happiness, more love and more peace fill the next 365 days. With this year coming to an end, it seems fitting that I spent this past Sunday sitting in the disarray of my closet. During the holiday busyness, it seemed as if my home became a place of "drop and run." And unfortunately, my closets took the brunt of it all. So Sunday, there I sat, with tunes of Cajun flair filling the background and the gentle hum of the vacuum, throwing out the old.
The space soon became empty.
Perhaps that’s what is so captivating about beginning of a new year. The empty space to write new stories, better stories of our lives. The old is now in our past, and the future is ours for the taking. But as I sat there in that empty closet, I couldn’t help but think, that for some 2014 wouldn’t be filled with the hopes that they were expecting.
I have a dear friend who rang in the new year planning a funeral with and for his mother who will soon loose her battle to cancer. While another friend entered 2014 still weighed down by the demons of addiction strapped to his back. There are these absolutely adorable kids who in 2014 will learn to live the ropes of a divide family. And I have a lot of friends who will enter 2014 with the incredible joy of planning their wedding day and tying the knot with the support of their family and church, while I know so many who only wish their church would allow them to get married inside the doors, or for their families to acknowledge the one they love.
New Year’s has always been a fun time for this planner, for this dreamer to dream big and plan away. But this year, there is a different plan, a different prayer in my heart.
To paraphrase Henri Nouwen:
The world tells us that when we grow up we will be able to make our own decisions, go our own ways and control our own destiny. In other words, fill your closets!! But Jesus challenges us to empty them, and to be willing to be led, even to the unknown, undesirable and painful places.
I want my 2014 to be empty.
I want my mind to be empty, so I can be focused on others.
I want my eyes to be empty, so I can see opportunities to be His hands and feet.
I want my ears to be empty, so I can really listen.
I want my heart to be empty, so it can be filled with compassion.
I want my hands to be empty, so I can help carry the burdens of others.
I want my shoes to be empty, so I can walk into the forgotten place.
I want to be emptied of me.
2014 will undoubtably fill my closets again with joys and sorrows. But may they always have room-room to share in other’s joys, room to share in other’s sorrow, and room to let the Spirit have His way in me.
Psalms 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me...” and keep my closets empty!