What do you do when a door squeals in protest when it is opened? Or when a sliding door gets stuck and protests loudly when you try to force it open? The solution? A little bit of oily lubricant applied to the door’s hinges.
The hinges of the door of our hearts also need to be oiled and protected from the rust of dryness, of self-pity, of negative emotions, and of stressful living. Joyce Rupp in her reflections in her book Open the Door (one of my favorite books to read during Lent) lists nine of the basic oils that can help keep our heart’s door moving smoothly.
Prayer is the basic ingredient of all the other lubricants. Prayer, quiet, reflective time with the Lord is essential in maintaining our heart’s door’s ability to open easily. Another is trust in the Lord – the oil of confidence in divine guidance. This gives us the courage to fully open our heart’s door and explore what awaits us beyond the door.
Love and patience lubricate our everyday life, enabling us to be generous, kind, encouraging and concerned toward others. It is the oil of grace-filled love that helps us to share ourselves with others, and patience, together with such love, that assists us in handling difficult relationships and stressful happenings.
We always need to have a large amount of the oil of forgiveness on hand to smooth over hurts, misunderstandings and hostile attitudes that close our heart’s door to friendships and happy family relationships. Many times the oil of creativity is needed in building, nourishing and strengthening relationships. Creativity also allows us to explore new ways of doing things, to bring our hidden gifts and talents into the open, and to see God’s creative hands in everything around us.
If you are like me, sometimes when we want something badly, we push and push to open the door-barrier. The more we push, the heavier and more stubborn the door seems to get. Rupp says that at times like these, it is best to stop pushing to get our own way and admit we can’t do it by ourselves. We need the oil of surrender; we need to ask others, and we need to ask God for help.
Then the hinges of the door of our heart need a daily dose of the oil of faithfulness – faith in God that He is holding our hand and will always be there to help us over the rough spots in our life. Remember “footprints in the sand” – when there was only one set of footprints, Jesus was carrying us through the difficult times. Faithfulness also includes having faith in oneself and in others.
Lastly we need the oil of leisure to renew our energy, clear our mind, and become refocused on the good things in life. It only takes a few moments to stop and take a deep breath, to listen to the bird sing outside your window, to inhale the fragrance of a flower, to smile back at the happy children passing by, to say a brief prayer of thanks for life.
Opening the door of our heart to our inherent goodness, or as Rupp puts it – our God-ness, is always possible and becomes easier the more often we keep our heart’s hinges well oiled with one or more or all of these nine lubricants.