I remember when I was only six years-old.
In laziness and procrastination I had neglected my bedroom letting it become cluttered, mostly with clothes. My mom, fed up with the growing mess, noticed it and demanded that I return to my room and stay there until it was in order. As far as I was concerned, I had been suddenly thrown into a prison with a big, scary monster of a mess staring down at me. And oh, the tears did flow in buckets as I lay on my bed, my face buried in my pillow with an enormous (to my six year-old mind) mess to face and conquer.
Who knows how long I cried, but it was quite some time. Finally, I sat up. Drearily, I surveyed all the clothes and figuring it too much trouble to pack a nap sack and run away to live like Pipi Longstocking, I acquiesced to my mother’s instructions. I got up and leaned over to pick up one by one each dress, each pair of shorts, each shirt and each pair of pants and put them where they belonged.
The important part of this lengthy clean-up process was that during it, my six year-old mind made an inner vow. The vow was this: I will never let this happen again. You see, by keeping the vow I was going to protect myself from having to face this awful situation ever again.
From that day on whenever I changed clothes, my little brain would zoom on fast-forward, past the “drop them on the floor and clean them up later” stage to immediately putting away the clothes. This comforting habit continued throughout my childhood and on into college. During those years, I enjoyed having things where they belonged and easy to find, and avoiding messes and the stress that they cause. However, issues arose when I found myself married to the youngest child of his family of origin whose three older sisters had always cleaned up after him.
“What? Your sisters always cleaned up after you? Are you kidding me?” Then when we had children, they of course made the usual messes which were expected. But what about me and my vow? What was I going to do with all these messes? They were like blinking red lights on the dashboard of my life.
The cumulative family messes were causing me too much inner distress. I couldn’t think straight and couldn’t find anything. I just had to do something about it because waving my magic wand at them to make them disappear just wasn’t working.
Even in spite of my efforts in the ongoing process of training everyone to be somewhat orderly (some training more easily than others), messes I realized were going to be an inevitable part of my life while living with other people. Eventually it dawned on me that since the outside circumstance wasn’t going to change (at least not overnight), I needed to alter the inside circumstance. That involved changing the way I thought about the outside circumstance.
The inner change involved many steps. Firstly, I began to see my husband as a simplified version of me who had never been suddenly locked in a prison with a big, scary monster mess staring down at him. In other words, he had never learned to fast forward his brain and clean up before the mess, like I had. Secondly, I had to appreciate the six year-old inner vow for what it was back then, a pro-active response to avoid displeasing my mother. Thirdly, I had to put the vow in context by appreciating that although it worked for me, it was not fully applicable in my current circumstances since I was now living with others who had not made the vow.
In summary, you can say that all the inner changes I made over the years combined entailed a version of rewiring the entire left-side of my brain. You can just call it a left lobe lobotomy. The lobotomy might be good and practical for now. However, if life ever grants me the opportunity of nesting in a little place all to myself, you might just find me sneaking back that little vow I made all those years ago, and using it to unscramble my brain.
What situation is blinking as red lights on the dashboard of your life?
Could the roots lead back to an early inner vow?
Allow yourself to think about it.
Ask God to illuminate the memories and show you a better way.
It is a snare to a man to utter a vow [of consecration] rashly and [not until] afterward inquire [whether he can fulfill it].