“Drama in Real Life” was an addiction for me as a pre-teen. I couldn’t wait for the Reader’s Digest to show up in the mail and I’d tuck myself away in the next dramatic account of someone who survived incredible odds.
I remember “Glenda’s Long Swim” about a woman who survived by treading water at sea after getting swept away in a riptide. Another story was about a grizzly attack where slumbering campers were ripped from their sleeping bags. This was the stuff of nightmares but I tried to imagine how people survived those traumatic experiences.
Then there was a story about being buried alive. In a box. With a little breathing hole.
A young woman was abducted and closed up in a box that was barely under the earth. The image in my mind of crumbly soil dropping through the little breathing hole, dampness dripping off the inside of her box from her own body heat and breathing . . . it was kind of freaky.
It didn’t frighten me. I was fascinated to imagine what that must have felt like.
Today, I think I know.
I haven’t been covered by physical clutter for several years but sometimes I feel like I’m buried alive under heart clutter.
Lies I’ve believed – that I’m not good enough
Fears that have been exercised and well-fed (they’re in better shape than I am)
Unrealistic expectations – that I’ll be a size 10 again
Criticism and judgment from myself and others – intentional or not
Shame and guilt – for the ways I believe I’ve failed or not been good enough
Unforgiveness – toward myself more than others
Worries about the future, my kids, the world that’s spinning out of control around me
OCD – Obsessive Comparison Disorder, a new term I just learned -- comparing myself to others or my own unrealistic expectations
So how does it feel to be buried alive? It hurts. It’s frustrating. Sometimes I feel hopeless and powerless. And much like the young woman buried underground, I desperately want to be found and uncovered.
God keeps digging.
Some days the struggle is so real I focus on breathing, and each layer of stuff that gets scraped away from my heart allows me to breathe more easily.
And God keeps digging.
As He digs, He keeps talking to me, reminding me of what is true, what is lovely, that I belong to Him, and He loves me, my wrinkles, my extra pounds, my crazy ways of checking out, medicating, and avoiding.
And those who love me keep digging.
When I speak at workshops about being buried under clutter in your home, I teach several questions that you need to ask of any object that lives in your house. One of these questions could also be asked of your heart.
In the same way that I ask the throw pillow, “What gives you the right to live in my house?” I can ask Shame, “What gives you the right to live in my heart?” The answer provides the key for learning how it was allowed entrance in the first place, providing me the legal right to toss Shame out, just like tossing the throw pillow into a donation box.
Do you feel buried alive? Keep breathing. Call for help. Ask the question. The people who love you will keep digging. We'll keep talking to you.
And God keeps digging, too.