Windows are important to me. Having grown up in the mountains where I spent my leisure time largely outside, I need that visual connection to creation to feel at rest.
My high school was a cold, gray, building with very few windows. It was thought that we would pay closer attention in class if we weren’t distracted by the outdoors. That may have been true, but I felt stifled; confined; trapped within those walls until I could finally climb back on the bus, lean my head against the glass and drink in the sights as it slowly ground its way back up the mountain to our little town.
Since then I have always chosen places to live with large windows. Even upon moving to the frigid northwoods, we chose a house ringed with windows from which I could observe the yard, woods, and lake beyond. Every morning I sit by a window to greet the day with gratitude.
Windows are portals. It is said that the eye is the window to the soul. Through this orb we gaze upon creation, upon each other, and upon the words which feed our souls.
I have known people who draw the shades over their souls, shielding themselves from being known and found wanting. I have also been that person. It is safe there, in the dimness.
It is also lonely.
We are created to know and be known, both by God and by each other. It can take uncommon courage to open ourselves to the scrutiny of another, even more to the gaze of One who misses nothing.
“I’ve broken all of the Ten Commandments,” she told me, “Every single one.” I was amazed at my friend’s courage, how she threw open the windows to her soul, risking my shock or condemnation. She is one who has taken Jesus at His word, walking free of shame, allowing others into the rooms of her soul once dark, but now filled with light and adorned with grace.
Her bold declaration inspired me – inspires me still – to lift my own shades, and allow the gaze of friends and strangers into the secret places long held close in the safe solitude of anonymity.
Why are we so reluctant to allow others to see our hearts? Perhaps our hesitancy lies in knowing that we will not always be received with kindness. A quick perusal of Twitter or Facebook displays the risk of self-disclosure. Most of us carry wounds from cutting words and rejection. We are not alone in this. Jesus knows this pain intimately.
The heart of Jesus is our only truly safe place, where we are known fully and loved unreservedly. But in drawing the curtains to our souls we do more than protect ourselves from rejection; we isolate ourselves from love. Because who can truly love someone they don’t know?
I am working at being more like my friend, who has tied her heart so securely to the love and grace of God that she is emboldened to speak of her darkness in order to display His light.
Most of us are drawn to people with dramatic testimonies, or to those who have overcome victimization or terrible loss. We who bear ordinary hurts and failures are frequently the ones most prone to step aside, thinking that our stories aren’t important.
But if God clothes the lilies of the field which are here today and gone tomorrow, should we not also dare to display the million little ways He’s loved us in this infinitesimal breath of time that He has granted us?
Spring has finally arrived in my part of the world. Uncountable numbers of leaves are unfurling around me, reaching toward the sun. I, too, have decided to part the drapes, lift the windows and let a fresh breeze if the Spirit into the musty places of my soul. Come what may, I, too, am opening to the light.