Julie Andrews’ portrayal of Maria in The Sound of Music is one of my all-time favorite performances. She blends equal parts of vivacity, devotion and spunk with ridiculous and silly. She is perfect! At one point in the movie, she repeats a phrase told to her by Mother Superior: When God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window.
What image comes to your mind when you think of a closing door? I always envisioned the door in the door/window scenario to slam shut with a resounding bang. Clearly identifiable. No mistakes to be made about it’s intent. It’s closing leaves the room filled with a sense of finality that pervades the dark shadows. The window on the other hand is gentle and opens to permit a soft breeze that ruffles lace curtains, chiffon dresses and flowing locks of hair. Happy little dust motes dance and flit across soft rays of warm sunlight. I’m sure angels could be heard singing in the distance, if you really stop and listen for them.
The reality, I have discovered, is far from the idyllic, simple scene I imagined. In fact, I’m not so sure anymore that the door completely shuts at all. It’s more of a creaking-open-and-close game between me on one side and what I want so desperately on the other. There are many phrases and sayings relating to closed doors, shutting the past away and moving in another direction. Some of the more familiar ones:
When your past calls, don’t answer. It has nothing new to say (TobyMac #speaklife)
Don’t look back; you’re not going that way anyway.
Don’t look back; you’ll miss what’s in front of you.
Doors, windows–they both imply something two-sided. What was, what could be. What might have been, what will be. Whichever way I look at it, I am left with two choices: sit facing backward, moving in and settling down, making my view of my past the only view, or standing up, shutting that door, turning around and taking that first step forward.
Maybe the game with the door is one I am playing alone. I am jamming my foot in the path of the door, refusing to let it shut. Maybe I don’t want to let that door shut. It is shutting out my past, when I had a whole family, when we were mostly happy, when we did things together and went places together. When I said “my husband” and he said “my wife,” and our kids said “my parents.” And I just don’t want to believe that is gone forever, even though in truth it is.
Saying goodbye to something so precious has been the biggest obstacle in my path. Today I sat down and searched through the Bible, looking for the verse that says “God makes it clear when he shuts one door that the door he’s opening instead is going to contain x, y, and z and it will happen on this date.” I’m still looking for that verse and as soon as I find it, I’ll be sure to proclaim its location loudly.
What I did find was a verse in Revelation about doors and the only one able to open or close them is God. I can pull with all my might, both feet propped against the door like a cartoon character, straining and groaning, and still, if God wants that door shut, it’s going to stay closed.
For almost 2 years, I have prayed and prayed that God would clearly shut doors so I would move forward. Instead of the resounding slam I so desperately seek, I have gotten ambiguity and opaqueness. I continually imagine strips of light from the door shining out, beckoning me to remain near it, pulling, hoping and wishing. That has frustrated me and left me with more questions than answers.
I don’t know if God is telling me to keep looking forward, keep moving forward or if I am just sitting alone, in the dark, staring at a blank door, hoping against all hope that it will somehow miraculously open again, giving me one more glimpse of the way things used to be.
One of my favorite songs is by a Christian recording artist named Cynthia Clawson. The song, “I’ll Keep My Eyes On You,” holds some of the most simply profound lyrics, including this line: “when I turn to see from where I’ve come, I trip and fall.” I’m so black and blue from tripping and falling, my bruises are starting to outnumber my freckles.
But the only way to stop this trip-and-fall cycle is to stand and turn away from the door that holds me back.
Instead, I need to find that window!