To Furnish a Heart
A parable about the invitation of kindness - to others, and to ourselves.
Sweet glassy bobbles, delicate tea cups, paintings, pictures, mugs, plates, and cozy throws.
Discarded at the door of my heart. Left to compost, all in vain. How I tried to forget. If I brought them in, surely pride they would foster. Surely idolatry would grow. No. I do not need the love they whisper. They are thoughtless, too much risk.
They were compliments, care, voices of concern. They were encouragement and help, but I couldn’t let them in.
Dark shattered glass, hard muddy stones. Acrid piles of waste packed up in moldy sacks.
These I brought in, these I lined on shelves. These were my company. These streaked my floors and crowded my cupboards. These made everyday tasks hard and muddied my daily bread.
Each a hurt. Each a heartbreak. Each a reminder of the unfaithfulness. Each a shivering fear in a strong solid box. Each a jagged fear of the unknown.
These I cataloged. It felt so wise to remember. I will steward the troubles so they don't come again. I will remember the danger. I can choose to never hurt again.
Preserved from idolatry. Preserved, yes, from pain. Preserved from chiefly risk. Vulnerability shunned, awkwardness forgotten. I will seal my soul and it will never be scarred.
Sealed it was. No air, no light. I stared at the muddy memories, dust drapes drawn. Safety secured, affection forgotten. A heart that refused discomfort. A heart that refused to love. A heart successfully preserved, alone.
Till one day came knocking, all smiles, wise friend. With radiance and sweet luscious cake, she cast open the crack I had made in the door. Flouncing in joyful, she plopped at my table, lit pretty candles, and sang her sweet song.
Shocked, I was speechless. I had nothing to say. Tears pushed hard at the edges of my sealed muddy soul. Her simple, soft kindness had thrown open the door.
“Why?" I asked her.
“I have a choice. And I choose you,” was her simple reply.
“Me?” My shock rippled to the floor. I thought of my choice. And I thought of hers. I looked at my shelves. I looked at her smile. And weighed up the risk, suddenly seeing the cost.
On my feet, I crossed to the door. “No more,” I muttered as I flung the door open wide and gathered the bobbles cast aside.
Gradually, I learned with many a mistake, to take out my garbage and bring beauty in. Gradually I learned to not leave lovely compliments at the door. I carried them in, hung them up, and draped them soft, lovely.
I eat daily bread on plates of kindness and I look out the window through light curtains of truth. I go searching for more gold memories to keep. Hunting for beauty to find more lovelies to line empty shelves and freshly cleaned sills.
I drink deep of friendship, knowing well the risk. I revel in worship, not of things or self praise, but of the One who redeemed me and taught me to see.
And when I’m given shattered glass and tidy little bags of poop, they go out with the garbage of my soul. And THEY are now the ones left forgotten.
You see, I can choose how I furnish my heart.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8).
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” (C.S. Lewis)
Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. (Psalm 34:5)