Quite a while back, in a moment of optimism and folly, I bought an ivory, slipcovered couch. Yes, with four kids and three animals in the house, it was a wildly brave (read: silly) thing to do. Needless to say, those slipcovers have needed to be cleaned. Frequently.
Each time I took them off, we sat on the bare cushions for a few days while the cleaners worked their magic on the slipcovers.
Fast forward several years, and imagine my surprise when I took off the slipcovers, only to discover a hidden zipper. The cushions were in fact, wrapped in another layer of zip-off-able covers that could also be cleaned. How did I not notice this before?
The extra layer was unexpected. And also needed attention.
And we are just like those cushions.
After you acknowledge and deal with an issue, have you ever discovered another just beneath? I have. It can be surprising. Discouraging. Frustrating.
Maybe you’re feeling great because you finally tackled your resistance to eating healthy foods, only to find vanity waiting for you in the dressing room as you slipped into skinny jeans for the first time in years.
Or maybe you’re satisfied to be improving your relationship with money by getting out of debt, but then discover your credit card situation was an easy excuse from extending generosity to others?
I try to see situations like these much like the bonus cover on my cushions; an unexpected opportunity to be further cleansed.
It can be hard to see it that way though. Sometimes I wonder if we’re ever done, if we ever get it.
Oh I know all the quotes about life being about the journey and not the destination, but sometimes I do want to arrive at a place of wholeness, of I’ve-got-it-togetherness.
But there are all those layers to peel away. To deal with. To uncover, remove, and cleanse. And just when you think you’ve reached the bottom, there’s more.
And what about when another layer is revealed in a person you thought you knew well? Do you welcome the opportunity to know that person better? Or do you feel duped by what is exposed? Especially if it’s something you never expected.
That too has happened to me and probably at some point, to you too. People aren’t perfect and often don’t show all of themselves, even to those closest to them. And to be fair, people can and do change, with intention or not. Just as my layers are peeled away and reveal more of my truth, so it is with theirs.
I’m confident this is part of God’s plan, even if it is sometimes frustrating. He wants all of us to be our best selves, and yet continues to love us even when we’re not.
God is in the business of truth and light. He tells us:
…he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him.
Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.
It’s sometimes difficult, or even scary to realize something about yourself that is embarrassing, or even shameful. It’s natural to want to look away, pretend it’s not there. Hence, there is a ready arsenal of defense mechanisms ready to be employed in an effort to avoid facing truth.
And yet….if we are believers, shouldn’t we feel secure in God’s love for us and his promise to see us through anything? That it’s ok to be imperfect. He loves us no matter what, which means it’s safe to look at the hard stuff.
There should be freedom in that knowledge. Freedom to face the difficult truths about ourselves and the ones we love. No need to keep things hidden, covered, denied or defended. God already sees and knows us for who we are. We are His.
Even if we’re wrapped in layers of slipcovers that remain in place for years before being discovered.
Go ahead. Shed them. It’s safe, and God will cleanse.