GENDUSA COLUMN: The key to our locked closets

Published 10:30 am Wednesday, January 26, 2022

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A mystery evolved in our family the other day when a new relative popped up on my Ancestry page. It can be hard to keep a skeleton in a closet or a secret hidden in a drawer with DNA testing today. This old riddle could be solved in a nano-second if my family were here to answer a question or two. However, since heaven has no cell phone service, the mysteries remain.

Why didn’t I ask more questions and listen to more stories when my relatives were alive? We should understand that one day it will be too late, and the wisdom, the answers and the history of our heritage are buried and lost until a ghost appears from a forbidden tomb.

I suspect a skeleton hobbled out of that old, dusty closet to remind me that sometimes locks just don’t hold them in.    

Every person has secret chambers where doors are latched because we don’t want the errors, tragedies and secrets spilling forth. We are so afraid that others will forever judge our lives that we go to great lengths trying to hide the keys. We sincerely desire not to hurt those we love. However, we forget in our fear that those ‘others’ have their own bone-riddled closets and that sincere love carries forgiveness.

Shoot, I own a double-wide closet with so many padlocks on it, Houdini couldn’t get in there!  Every now and then, I bravely walk into the chamber when no one is looking. All the faults, the secrets, sins, regrets and pain whirl like a cyclone determined to crush me from high waves. Yet, just before I drowned, I recalled the only reason I got out of there in the first place was that God was in there with me. Might as well throw those padlocks away.

There is much to learn from those old closets.

When we hide who we are and what we have done, we must understand that God knows exactly who we are and has witnessed it all. He wept when we sinned and held us when we fell. God forgave us when it was difficult to even begin to forgive ourselves. He loved us so much that he let us out of the closet with his golden key of mercy.

When we accept the blame, own up to our faults, and testify before the Lord, we are given the gifts of humility and wisdom. We can walk in another’s shoes and feel their despair because we understand it. We learn we cannot judge; nor cast stones and never pretend we are above rebuke for our sins.

My every mistake and misdeed cost me, as it should. When I sit in the closet among my skeletons, I know my sins are forgiven by God, but the pictures on the walls capture the moments of my life I cannot erase. 

We cannot undo our transgressions, but we can use our past to aid others’ futures.

Do we grow from our errors by using empathy or hide our secrets, hoping someone doesn’t find that key?

False pride, fake self-importance, fictional accounts of our lives build secret chambers and we become imposters in our own life stories. It is far better to be flawed, scarred and bruised than not be genuine. Isn’t it better to ask for forgiveness than to run and hide? Usually, the truth will eventually find us or leave those we love with questions and doubt.

Over 100 years ago, a struggling, young widowed mother found she was carrying a child. The unknown father ran away, and she was lost as to what to do. Her older children knew nothing of her plight, nor did her family and friends back home.

She held the baby in her arms after bearing her little girl while tears streamed down her face. She handed the newborn to the nurse and then walked away. She never saw her child again, and her story was unknown until today when an old closet door was opened to reveal questions, never to be answered. 

Even though she was burdened by her loss,  the young mother adored her children and worked each day to provide for them as a single mother. She was a faithful servant to her faith and was loved and admired all her remaining years.    

It was said that during the days that rolled by, one could often hear her sweetly sing, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.”

In the dark closet filled with cobwebs of guilt, one can find the light of redemption and peace.

“Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven … for she loved me much.  But the one who is forgiven little, shows little love.” Luke 7:47