When I hear exterior and interior, I always think of painting a house. Go figure. I wouldn't say I like painting for the most part - give me a roller, a stopwatch, and plenty of paint. I will
cover all blemishes that can be seen, even when unnecessary. My wife loves to paint because, to her, you can see an immediate difference in the work you have done. I am her biggest fan when the task of painting is before us.
There is much to say about our journey when painting a new color in a room. Life can be so much lived like this. We can cover the blemishes, pains, regrets, disappointments, and grief with paint. A fresh new color over our lives will lessen the reality of those things we have experienced. I remember when I was a teenager at our church. The church pastor's wife was present, and I said, "Paint is like the blood of Christ; it makes all things new." I didn't understand the depths of my own words.
God's gaze upon us is through Christ's sacrifice for us. This is the absolute truth about our faith. God's sacrifice for us makes all things brand new, He sees us as the created intent, being complete in our lives. He works with us through the perspective of a loving gaze. This is just the beginning and foundation of His work. When painting a wall, if we don't take care of the blemishes before the paint, the imperfection will still be seen just with a new color. God sees the new color over our lives and desires to redeem those 'dings and gouges' for a nice, clean surface, which translates to freedom, redemption, and fresh life.
The real work in the spiritual journey is the inward work. God takes care of the big picture with the cover of paint over our lives. We journey with Him in the depths of our souls to redirect the dings, gouges, and scraps for new life within. This is where the rubber meets the road with our faith. Our Caregiver directs this inward work to lead and guide the timing, the memory, and the sting of this honest work. He knows what we are ready to address in our story to liberate those dings, gouges, holes, and scratches we have endured. We don't go on a witch-hunt within ourselves as if we can heal ourselves. He is called the Shepherd of our Souls for a reason.
Those dings and gouges don't leave our lives as if the paint can cover them, and they are gone. We transport them from space to space, season to season, until life ends. Sadly, I could take all this baggage dragging behind me as I journeyed forward, and it was miserable, trust me. When the interior work is redesigned, and a new definition comes forth, the exterior of my life is noticeably changed. Life's dings, scraps, and gouges have a way of defining me, and that definition affects my exterior and how I live my life. For the most part, I walk in ways that I prefer not to walk because of the misleading definitions and perspectives of these traumatic and less traumatic experiences. God desires so many different things for our lives. He has called each of us to life. We are defined by God and His created intent for our lives. This definition is expressed, experienced, and enhanced in my daily relationship with Him and others. The daily invitation is to consider whether I believe in God and what He says about me or whether I should continue to believe and walk in the ways the dings, gouges, and holes define me. This is the inner work. Work out your salvation/wholeness (God's creative intent) with fear and trembling, Philippians says. This effort by His Spirit's work is beautiful, sprouting new life with us. These supplementary experiences prove that He is faithful and does what He does best - redemption. This morphing of our lives continues until we see Him face to face where we are known as He knows us.
I cherish my journey with Christ. He is not limited by time, space, or age to transform my inner being to be more like Him. As man is in his heart, so is he. The real work is the inner work. Putting a fresh coat of paint over these spaces in our lives is easier than acknowledging the blemishes that lie underneath. "Take courage," says the Lord, "I am with you."
We are not called to live our lives alone. God instructs us to live in community with one another and journey through life's corridors, our interior castles, and our stories. This is true intimacy and fellowship when we can reciprocate this care. We become Christ's hands, feet, gaze, and words with one another. We actually see God's image in others when we receive such love, care, and support. It's beautiful. Christ is beautiful.
If you don't have a person to journey into the depths of your story as Christ leads you, I would be honored to accompany you. Your journey of inner healing doesn't ever need to be alone. The One who loves and created you is always with you, and He has invited you to share this journey with another.
Be kind to yourself because He is kind to you.