I live in a 40 year old split-level home with a crumbling foundation and an attached garage. A home with a bad foundation is topic to explore in its own; the blinding rage that a beautiful spring downpour can incite is interesting to say the least.—Among many other #firstworldproblems I encounter everyday—occasionally my garage door won’t open. Maybe the opener doesn’t have enough strength in the battery, or something is obstructing the signal. Sometimes to get myself inside the garage I have to walk all the way through my house, through the basement, and inside the garage—split-level homes often feature charming and quirky functional obsolescence. From inside the garage I can use the manual release (a hanging rope with a handle) to open the door. It is not always an easy task. I am short and truthfully not very strong. Sometimes the garage door is reluctant and slides down a few times before it finally springs open. I find this effort to be worth the struggle. To get where I want to be, where I need to be—I have to put down the ineffective remote and decide to manually fix the problem.
Sometimes our hearts are a lot like a garage. They fill up with junk easily and cease to function as their originally intended and designed purpose. I actually went to BusinessDictionary.com to define “functional obsolescence” and I really liked how the definition was worded.
Functional Obsolescence: Impairment of the usefulness of a device or equipment due to a design defect, or due to its inability to be upgraded or modified to serve the user’s current needs.
I sincerely hope that my heart never becomes defined as functionally obsolescent. I believe that if I made the choice to purposefully keep people out of my heart that I would be harming my own perceived value. Not only would I cease to meet my own needs, but I would severely inhibit my ability to serve the needs of others.
Have you ever met someone who holds onto a grudge? Someone who holds onto a grudge is like the homeowner who doesn’t dare click on the garage door opener; they also could not fathom walking through the home to open up the garage door. A grudge holder is the homeowner who parks in the street, just to avoid opening up the garage door. They have a garage, but its usefulness is impaired due to its inability to be modified. Maybe it is because they perceive that they are just too busy to open up the garage, or perhaps it is because they are afraid the neighbors will see all the junk that they are hoarding inside.
When you forgive someone you “give” yourself the opportunity to live with an open heart. Often the people that we struggle the most to forgive are those who are closest to us. Those important people whose presence or lack of presence is strongly felt. Those who might actually spend some time with you in your garage, maybe just hanging out–or maybe they would even bring their own junk over to have a garage sale– a true heart to heart event.
Could your heart use a little spring cleaning? If I state, that I believe that our Father in Heaven gave His only begotten Son as a ransom sacrifice for all transgressions, then I should also try to align my ability to forgive closer to the habits of my Father. Forgive because you, yourself, have received forgiveness. Live with an open heart. Invite the person you seemingly can’t forgive over for a garage sale and get rid of that junk you don’t need and take great delight in the profit.
No one can guarantee that you won’t feel pain in this life. You do, however, have the power to control how much you allow yourself to inflict pain on yourself and others. You can’t make someone else clean out their garage, but you can make sure that you are able to use your own garage.
The rewards of living with an open heart far outweigh the risks.
This post was inspired by today’s “Wipe the Slate” challenge from 40acts. To learn how the 40acts movement of generosity for Lent is making an impact visit: 40acts from Stewardship