Why Don’t You Open That Door?

February 25, 2009 at 12:20 pm (Articles, Attitudes, Godly Living) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

open-that-doorHaving my own bathroom sounded glamorous. As soon as we moved in, I set to work stripping off disgusting grey wallpaper, sanding down the uneven walls and painting it a delicious color of green. (Well, Lauren doesn’t like it, but it’s not her bathroom, now is it?) I hung new towels and put out the perfect canisters and soap dispenser, but I soon discovered that my “beautiful” bathroom has a nasty problem: mildew. Tucked into a back corner of the house, the humidity is high and the slimy black stuff appears from nowhere, crawling across the ceiling or down the shower wall and clinging to the tile grout.

I’ve rolled up my sleeves and scrubbed with bleach water (thought I’d ruined my hair when I accidentally spilled some on my head!) more times than I care to recall. For a couple of days the tile shines and the ceiling glows white again, then one morning I wake up to realize the mildew has crept back into life. Where does it come from? How does it get here? Why does it keep coming back?

One day my ever-wise mother responded to my frustrations: “Why don’t you open that door?” I blinked. I didn’t even realize that I do keep it closed, until she mentioned it. Of course, I have a cartload of excuses. For one, I don’t want everyone who comes into my room being tempted to use my bathroom–or even being able to see into it. You know, sometimes I have sweaty work-out clothes hanging up in there. Or dirty work jeans. Or the dirty clothes become restless and tumble out of the closet–it’s my bathroom, none of their business. In these cold winter months, it stays warmer than my 45-degree bedroom, which is nice for showering and getting dressed in the mornings. “So,” she said, “Close the door when you’re showering and dressing and leave it open the rest of the time so it can air out.”

Are you wondering why I’m going on and on about the mildew infiltration in my bathroom?

The mildew offered to me a prime picture of my heart. When I trusted Jesus it got cleaned up, adorned with good things and I thought it looked pretty good–for a while. Slowly, so many nasty things began to creep in. Where did they come from? How did they get there? Where there’s a bathroom, there will be mildew to fight. Every heart is deceitful and full of wickedness. When I notice the mildew in my heart, I go for the bleach and scrub brush and get to work cleaning, scrubbing, purging, repenting, weeping, praying. For a couple of days I seem like a shining, new individual on the inside, and then the mildew comes creeping back. Always, it comes creeping back. Always it will come creeping back, but “Why don’t you leave the door open?” Mom said.

Leave the door open? What in the–?

Accountability. Instead of closing myself up inside, hiding behind a white-washed door, I ought to be seeking accountability, opening myself up to scrutiny. Not to everyone (I don’t invite everyone into my room), but to my parents, to my siblings, to my closest friends and sisters in Christ. Not necessarily about everything. Some things are private-like showering–but do I really need the door closed when doing my hair? Putting on make-up? Or even cleaning? In fact, I might need accountability for those very things! What are the sins and struggles that keep creeping back into my heart and life, those nasty things I try to hide from everyone else? Thinking my agenda is so important, my bad habit of reading everything I see, or beginning to focus on outward appearance and worldly success. Or the fact that I don’t pay attention when Mom is giving me instructions because I think I know what is and isn’t important. Or not being disciplined about personal study or prayer time.

Just like getting some air into a mildew infested room can slow down the mildew’s growth, being transparent about my failures can often spur me to overcoming them and can dampen the temptation. Having someone know that I am tempted in a certain way can strengthen me to resist. After all, they might ask, or they might notice that mildew growing now the they know what’s behind that closed door. They can guess what I might be hiding when I say, “I’m doing fine.”

Seeking accountability involves more than just sharing struggles. There’s little need for a mutual pity party. Accountability involves action on both parts: prayer for each other, suggestions, Biblical guidance. When I seek accountability, I should be praying and seeking prayer. I should be seeking suggestions, tools and ideas for overcoming and resisting, for cleansing and purifying. And I should be looking for root issues. When I seek accountability, I should be implementing suggestions and expecting follow-up inspection. The goal is a mildew-free environment, not just an open-door policy. It’s not that I want people to have to look at my disgusting bathroom. The goal is to become presentable: a bathroom fit for the King.

“Why don’t you open that door?” Mom said. It’s habit now to close it-at least most of the way, but when I see itjames-5-161 standing closed, a white wall barring the view into my “inner” room, I open it to let it air out. Sometimes it means I actually have to put those sweaty work-out clothes away, or wash that hand-towel, or get more toilet paper, or even go to work on that mildew when I’d rather be doing something else. I’m trying to learn to open up my heart to accountability, as well: let it air out to help slow down the mildew’s growth, implement other’s suggestions for cleaning, seek root problems and deceitful heart issues. Hopefully, at least, I’ll notice more quickly when the black slime begins to spread.

And perhaps it will encourage others to see that there’s hope. We all have mildew in our bathrooms and our hearts, but a little accountability and a lot of bleach can go a long way in the cleaning process.

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5 Comments

  1. Anna said,

    In taking the Purity Challenge course at settingcaptivesfree.com, I learned the need for an accountability partner, so I totally get where you are coming from! It is so very important to have someone to help you up when you fall.

  2. Miss S. said,

    Wow. Great analogy! And so true, too.

  3. Pearls and Diamonds said,

    Just to clarify, I like the color of your bathroom now that you have all of the contrasting, tame blue in there. It’s just such a bright green that it blinded me when I went in there and saw nothing but neon green and white! The toilet even started to glow green! 😛

    Great article!

    ~Lauren

  4. Marian said,

    Yeah, I wasn’t sure where the mildew metaphor was going, but it was beautiful. And so true. Thanks for the push/encouragement.

  5. Melanie said,

    What wonderful insight you share in this post. All so very true and something we each should spend some time thinking on and praying. Thanks!

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