Our new house in Virginia has an extra room upstairs, nestled in between our bedroom and the children’s rooms.
I had this grand idea to turn the room into a creating space. I planned to put our scratched up kitchen table in there, and it would magically become this place to write and draw and wonder and make mistakes. A place where it’s okay to lay out all of the paper, get out all of the paint, and cover the floor with splatters and chalk dust and thread.
So the day before the moving truck arrived, I gathered my vision and stood in the stillness of that room and prayed for freedom and joy in the space.
And then the truck arrived.
And the boxes came.
And I freaked out.
I had no idea where everything was supposed to go. I had no idea where anything was. I knew this house was smaller than our last one, and I had tried – oh, I had tried – to give things away, to pack less, to simplify, but the stuff just kept coming.
The closets filled up, the bedrooms filled up, even the laundry room filled up. And I kept hearing myself say, over and over again, “Just put it in the extra room upstairs.”
That evening I remember trying to find one clean spot, one empty space to sit down and think. I opened the door to the extra room and stopped. Every square inch was covered. Sweaters on top of party supplies on top of tablecloths on top of picture frames. The room that was supposed to be open and free was literally stuffed closed. There was no room for me.
“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7
We talk a lot about “making room” for Jesus during Advent.
And before the move, “making room” sounded lovely to me. I pictured myself pulling up an extra chair at a table laid with greens, setting out one more place setting of china, pouring another glass of wine.
After all, when we “make room” for someone on a bench, don’t we just squeeze in so another person can fit? Nestle together a little more snuggly? Make sure they can slide in at the end?
But what I’m discovering this season is that “making room” isn’t about adding more. It’s about letting in less.
So I’m letting go of things, of habits, of attitudes and idols. I’m taking boxes out of the house. I’m saying “no” and “goodbye.”
I wish I could just add an extra chair.
But I’m finding that the only way to prepare Him room is to empty myself out.
So this Christmas, I will stop trying to fit it all in the drawer. I will stop pushing things further under the bed. I will ask the Holy Spirit what I need to give away so I can have space for a Love more precious than life.
Because the dwelling place of God is now with man.
And I want to have room.