I live on a cute cul de sac in a pretty typical subdivision. My home is on the corner of a cul de sac and busy street and our neighborhood is full of kids. When my kids were little, my front door was left open all day to welcome in kids and other moms. Anyone could walk by and peer into the window of our lives. Sometimes while kids were riding bikes or playing kick ball, moms would stop in to chat and commiserate about life with kids and busy husbands.
One day all of this changed for me. On September 30, 2008 I shut the front door. On that day, my family went into crisis mode and I instinctively shut my door to the outside world. I’m not talking about total isolation, I would describe it as insulation. Instead of calling 911 on a desperate situation, I hit my knees and cried out to God and then a very select few people including family, friends and pastors.
What I knew deep down was that there were folks who would have reveled in my disaster. I needed people who would maintain confidentiality and secure our dignity; without those two things we would not have survived. It was a time when I had to reevaluate everything from friends to finances and reign in my life. I needed people around me who would pray and not publish. Please don’t misunderstand, I have amazing neighbors. In the weeks following our stuff hitting the fan, they came to my aid to babysit, listen and share their own struggles. But for a short while, I needed to hunker down, prioritize and join God in the mission of saving my family.
Maybe you’re not in crisis mode but you have this nagging feeling that something’s gotta change. You have a kid who’s not quite right, a spouse who seems disengaged or you have some holes in your heart that need mending. Don’t wait like I did to shut the front door. If I’m honest, I chose the distractions of motherhood, friends and kids over dealing with the stuff that was gnawing away at our life. I knew deep down something wasn’t right in my house but I was too afraid to deal and face it. There’s a reason why God says “fear not” 365 times, we need to “fear not” every day of the week.
On the flip side, if you have a friend who has recently dropped out of life, it might be time to check in with him or her. The mom who is a play date dropout or the guy who doesn’t show up for the regularly scheduled golf outing could be in crisis mode but too fearful to tell you. I dealt with unbearable amounts of embarrassment and shame. I quickly learned my real friends were the ones who kindly checked in with me and asked that loaded question, “Are you okay?” Don’t assume someone is being rude, anti-social or busy. They might be crying too hard to cry for help.
Almost eight years and so much healing have gone by since that dreadful day. God has done a new thing in my family and in my heart. In the past few years, I’ve been able to open my door to many different people who need hospitality and help. As a couple we have helped families facing addiction, a few moms navigating home schooling for the first time and friends at the end of their rope. Shutting the front door isn’t forever, it’s only as long as it takes for the Lord to work in your life and get you to the place where you can open it again to help others.