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Room By Room

By Traci Hendrix

While simply minding my own business one day, there was a knock at my door. When I went to answer the door, I was surprised to find Jesus the visitor of the moment.

"Um. Hi"

"Hello" he responded. " May I come in?"

I looked over my shoulder; I had to admit. The place was a Wreck! There were cheese puffs from the party last night, a few of the guys' drink cans crushed in a display of sheer brawn. I hesitated for a moment, not knowing what to do. " Oh, don't worry about all that," He said, with a smile on His face, "I understand and I will take care of that for you." Well, what did I have to lose? I did need some help cleaning up, and it might be nice to have company around from time to time. It does get lonely around here.

"Ok" I said, "Come on in."

Then I thought about everything I had hidden in my bedrooms, in the basement, and **ugh** especially in the closets! "Wait Jesus." I stammered around for a minute. I wanted to know that He would stay out of those areas, but I just didn't know how to tell him. I knew I couldn't have Him going through all those places; not now. I don't know if I could handle seeing all the rubbish I had managed to cram into all my hidden nooks and crannies.

He broke the awkward silence, "Don't worry, I'll only stay here for right now. But I'm going to be here for a good long while. I'm going to need some places to sleep, and hang my clothes."

"Ok" I thought 'Great! That means I'm going to have to find him a closet somewhere.' My mind went into a panic as I thought about everything I had hidden... everywhere. "Um. I guess we can get started on this mess, huh?" I said, trying to get my mind off everything I had hidden.

I turned around, and Jesus had already started cleaning up the mess from the party the night before. I was rather embarrassed that Jesus had found the undies that one of the girls had left. I made a mental note: no more using the back room for " time alone." I just knew I was going to get a lecture on the evils of having trash in my house. But, He didn't say anything. He just tucked the undies into the trash bag, and kept working. I went to pick up a magazine I had left on the couch, one that I wasn't too proud of, and before I could get it, my "Hunks of the Month" calendar was in the bag too. I didn't know what to do any more. He had done all the work, cleaned up all the trash, (I don't have a small house here either) and he had made lunch in the process!

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I just sat down to eat, not knowing what to say! So, being a polite child that Mom taught me to be, I told Jesus thank you, bowed my head and said my recited prayer. Jesus did look at me kind of funny, and I felt a bit silly for praying with him sitting right there. Oh well; Another time, another place I suppose.

Things were fine for a while. But that one closet just started to bother me. One day, I was walking through the hall, thinking of all the things I was going to do that weekend, how much fun I was going to have, wondering which guy would find his way into my heart, how much fun I could have, and I found Jesus standing at the door of that closet.

"Hi. What are you doing here?"

"I live here, remember."

"Oh, yeah" Sheepishly I looked down at my feet. At first, I was embarrassed that he had decided to find that closet just now, as I'm thinking about the fun I could be having. Then I became indignant. Who did he think he was anyway? This was MY house. " But why are you standing right here?"

"What's in the closet?" He looked like He already knew, and I was getting mad.

"Nothing you should be concerned with" He was pushing a bit too far. I would have never imagined he would be so nosey!

"Oh? I live here, and you don't want me concerned with it?"

"Thanks, but No thanks." I got mad, and moved in front of the door. "There's nothing you need to be concerned with in here" I was literally steaming. I could see myself as a cartoon character... red face, steam and all.

"Ok. If you say so"

He was so confident, but, there was a look on his face; one of hurt, disappointment, and in among it, love. I started feeling a bit guilty. "Jesus..."

"Yes?"

"There is this other closet over here, and I was thinking, if you really needed a closet, then this one might do better for you, but I had some things I had put in there some time ago, and at the moment they were very precious to me. but..."

He just smiled. " Don't worry. I'll take care of everything"

We walked to the closet I told him about. I fumbled around with the keys, trying to find the one to unlock it, and halfway hesitating. He put his hand on my shoulder; "can I try?" It was a question, but seemed more like a gentle command. He put his hand on the padlock, and it fell off; no key needed, just dropped right into his hands. He reached down to turn the doorknob, and it opened. I looked in. remembering when each and every item had been put in. I felt the anger, the passion, and even the hurt that had come from every box full of things that I wanted to keep. "Um Jesus, are you sure you want to do this?" He just got down on his hands and knees, and started cleaning up my closet. Things that had been there for years found their way into the bag.

But this time I saw something different when Jesus was working. He started praying, and it looked like a drop of blood would fall on each article that he touched. I looked at his hands, and noticed there was a scar about the size of... a nail. I couldn't believe my eyes! I thought about the way the soldiers had hammered nails into his hands and as my gaze drifted, his feet also. Feeling my stare, evidently, he turned his head to look at me. "There's going to be a lot of trash today." Jesus just smiled, and went about his work.

Finally, the closet was empty. I looked at Jesus, realizing that some of my life, things that I had actually been trying to throw away for years and years, was finally gone. I felt a bit empty, but then I started realizing what kind of clutter I had in that closet. I started realizing I didn't have to lug around all the bags and boxes of things I would rather have forgotten I had, and finally admitted to myself all that was a bunch of junk. Oh! What freedom! I felt like I could jump off the roof and never hit the ground! He had done something I had wanted to do for some time now, but didn't know just how to make it happen. He turned around looking at me again, and that same gentle smile broke through his face. He looked like he hadn't done anything at all, but I knew different. I was exhausted just watching him, and reliving the memories. He reached out his arms, as if asking me to allow him to hug me. " Come here" he almost whispered; " I know you're tired. I want to show you a new rest." I reached out to him. He wrapped his arms around me. Even though I had only just watched him through a great deal of my life away, I felt a strange peace, one I hadn't felt before. He just comforted me, and let me fall asleep in his arms. I don't remember much, only that I slept more soundly that night than I ever had before. How I got to my bed that night, I'll never know.

A few weeks later, I was coming down the hall again, and met Jesus at the same closet. I had a bad day at work, and was ready to have my co-workers fired. I wasn't in the mood to deal with this. "Jesus, I thought we had been through this"

"Yes, we have been through this. But I live here now, and whatever is in this closet is really starting to smell. And I could really use the room"

"NO!" I was so upset with him! I thought we had this all straightened out, and that he would be happy with the room he had. I should have known better. I was getting angrier with myself for letting him in my house! " I said that's MY closet! It's none of your business what's in there!"

He just stood there. Didn't make a sound. Didn't turn away. Just let me be angry. I stopped my rampage for a minute, and thought. If there's something he wants to do, then maybe it's time for the basement. Yes! That's it! The basement! "Jesus..."I turned around. But he'd already found the door, and was halfway down the stairs.

Then I remembered. OH NO! The basement's where I keep all my flooded books, and my most prized possessions! I raced down after him... and I was knee deep in sludge. Those prized possessions were my beer steins, from the parties I had hosted. I remembered most of them. Well, sort of. I didn't realize the kegs were only half-empty, and I had put them away with the tap still open. The rancid beer mingled with the remnants of the drugs on the floor didn't make for a pretty sight, or smell. I hadn't realized it would create such goo on the floor.

"Jesus, can I keep just one, for old times sake?" I looked over with pleading eyes.

"Well, if you really want... "

I picked up my feet, one at a time, and looked at the glob hanging down "uh, Never mind" I said. Who in their right mind would want this slop in their basement?

Again, Jesus just smiled and went on with his work.

I started thinking about what had happened with the other closet, and how he had just cleaned everything right out. It had been hard for me to watch, but it was easier than me doing this on my own. As Jesus brushed his hands walking up the stairs, I thought, "Ok. It's now or never."

I reached in my pocket for the ring of keys again. Jesus was at the top of the stairs. I looked up at him, and he just looked back. That smile again! It was starting to break my heart! Something about it just went straight to all the hesitation I ever had, and melted it right away. I couldn't believe only a smile could do that, but it wasn't only the smile, it was the tender look in his eyes; the one that said, "I know your house is a wreck, and it's making you so miserable to be here." He held out his hand. "Please?" I asked him.

"This is what I have been waiting on." He grabbed the keys with one hand, and my shoulders with the other. We went to the closet, and he opened the door... without the keys. They seemed to have melted right into his hands.

I was taken aback by the smell, by all the things that I had kept as my deepest darkest secrets that were in that closet: everything I had decided no one would ever get to, and would definitely never know I had. I stood there just looking, amazed I had kept so much for so long. I started to bash my head into the wall, just so I would have some physical reason to be feeling this way. Jesus wrapped me in his arms, and let me cry for a minute. He knew I was about to lose the things that I had hidden for the longest time. He pulled my chin to look up at him. I looked up, but was hesitant to bring my eyes up. I wanted to see the smile, but then again, I was very afraid of the power it had on me. Finally, I let my eyes roam up toward his head. His eyes caught my gaze, and that peace I hadn't felt since I fell asleep in his arms that night took over.

But a slight shimmer on the side of his face interrupted my gaze. I let my eyes break the lock his had on mine, and saw a drop of blood starting toward his beard. I scanned his forehead, and saw several streams of blood making their way down his face. I couldn't see much more; my eyes were clouded with tears. All this time, people had been telling me Jesus went through torture to clean my house. I couldn't believe he would do that for me. I looked into his eyes with a question of " really?" His eyes opened farther than I've ever seen them, and I could see his soul. Such compassion and tenderness I saw.

He took me by the shoulders with a firmness that I took to mean, " stand right here," looked over at the closet and stepped in. I couldn't look. I knew there was too much work for one man to do alone, but I just couldn't go in with all that garbage again. Jesus had found the largest closet in my whole house, and it was crammed full of things I had never intended for anyone to see. These things were the most protected things in my house. If there were a closet more protected than Fort Knox, this was it.

But, when I glanced into the closet, so ashamed of everything I had hidden in there, I saw a strange light illuminating the whole hallway. I had to shade my eyes, and I craned my neck to look in. I saw Jesus, but he was very different than I expected! I thought I would have to send his clothes to the dry cleaners to get all the dirt and grime I had in my house out, but I wasn't prepared for what I saw. Standing in the middle of a closet so much bigger than I ever dreamed possible, Jesus glowed in a brilliant white robe. The nail scars I had seen earlier were there, I saw a few scars on his back from where the soldiers had scourged him, but they didn't seem to matter. He had another set of keys, much bigger and heavier than mine ever could have been, and the most beautiful gold crown on his head.

I couldn't believe it! He had gone into all that garbage, and looked like a King!

"What happened to all the..." I was absolutely stunned, and could say no more.

He stretched out his arms to me again, like he did the night I fell asleep in peace.

"My precious child" he said, "When I died on the cross for you, I took out all your trash. But you had to let me in, so I could show you, clean you from top to bottom, and bring you to this room. Look around you. All this cleaning, and this is where I want you."

Where he wanted me? I wasn't sure I understood. This closet was so small, or so I thought. I started looking around, seeing the things that were... gone. I didn't know what to do. I felt so empty. I didn't know why I felt this way though. I just had Jesus, of all people, finish cleaning my house for me. I started looking for the walls I had built, the ones that kept everyone out of this place, the ones that would keep me safe. I started panicking! How would I defend myself if someone came to hurt me? How could I ever go through what I had gone through before without the wire, the defenses? He had totally ruined my world! I turned to him, with a look of panic and fear, questioning his motive.

"WHY?!" I screamed at him. "How could you do this to me? I asked you to clean my house, not wreck my defenses!" Again, he just stood there.

I fought to find a corner, somewhere to sit and hide, somewhere safe. I couldn't find this anywhere. I sat in hysterical tears crying, trying to breathe, not really caring if I did breathe or not.

I don't remember just how it happened, but I know Jesus came over to me, picked me up, and held me again. I felt so vulnerable, so distant from everything I had known. He started talking to me in a tone that let me know I was safe. He was telling me about his thoughts of me before he created the world, how he made the animals for me to enjoy, to watch and laugh at. He told me of the fun he had designing the stars to shine in patterns so I could play connect the dots with them, and how he had painted the flowers, softened their petals, and had a wonderful time scenting them. He told me how it hurt him to know, even then, that he would have to come and die because of a deceiver, and how he knew how difficult having my house cleaned would be for me.

He was quiet for a bit, letting all that he had just told me sink deep into my mind. Then, he started telling me about the plans he had for me, the wonderful plans he had been so excited about since he started creating the earth, the sky, and everything in each of them. He told me of how he wanted to see me share what he had just done in my house with others, leading them to allow him into their houses as well.

I looked up at him in disbelief. " Not me" I said, shaking my head. "You don't know what I've done, or where I've been. How can you tell me you want me to be your messenger? I'm not good enough."

He smiled that smile again. " I'm not looking for good enough. I'm only looking for willing."

I thought about what he had done. All the cleaning, hauling trash, stomping through goo, and I knew how much better it felt to have a clean house. How could I not tell someone else about all this? How could I keep it to myself? I started getting excited at the potential this idea had.

I looked back up into his face. He was waiting on me to answer him. " I might not be the best at anything, I might have made mistakes, but I can't find anything in my house that would remind me of them. All that's here right now is you. I know what was here, and I know what's here now. If you can do that for someone else, and I could tell them about it, then it would be wrong for me to keep it all to myself like this."

His face brightened, he held me close, and whispered, "That's my girl." He picked me up, carried me to the couch, singing to me the whole way. Again, I don't remember what happened that night, because I had another incredibly peaceful sleep. I do know, though, that something changed in me that night. I know my life will never be the same.

I woke the next morning to a lovely breakfast set on the table. Jesus and I had a wonderful talk about how things were, how they are, and how he wants them to be. He didn't tell me much though, only what I needed to get through the day. Some of the things I didn't understand, but I soon knew I needed to keep everything he had said written down close. I thought about a book that my friends had given me a few years ago. I went to my bedroom, pulled open the drawer, and there it was. I pulled it out, flipped through, and found a page marked.

I couldn't believe my eyes! Everything he had only just told me was in the book. He came, leaned against the doorjamb, and smiled. "I've told many people the same thing, but very few listen." I turned and smiled at him. Having a running start, I went to him with open arms, and he gave me the most precious hug I have ever had in my life. I now understood what people meant by " newness of life."

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