Inviting God Into My Closet

When I was a little girl, I loved to build forts.  Toss me a couple of pillows and a handful of blankets and I would recreate the Taj Mahal in my bedroom.  Send me outside to play for any amount of time and you would find me up a tree with my little brother trying to turn the twigs we had gathered into the most epic tree fort your eyes had ever seen. Once, I even tried to talk my dad into letting me have free access to the lumber and building supplies we had in our garage, as I was fully convinced that I could build my own playhouse in the backyard if he would just give me a hammer and a few days off from school.  (Yeah, that one didn’t happen.)

As fun as fort building was, I didn’t always do it for recreational purposes.  Sometimes, building a fort was my way of building walls of protection around myself.  I was an insecure child.  My home life wasn’t perfect.  (It was far from terrible, I promise, but things weren’t always great.)  Sometimes I felt completely overwhelmed by what was going on around me and inside of me; and when the environment I was in did not feel safe, I had to find a way to create an environment that did.

When those moments came, when I found myself feeling sad, angry, or frightened, I would clear out the floor of my closet, set up a little nest of blankets and pillows, bring in a lamp and a book, and read until I fell asleep.

My closet fort was my safe place.  In it, I could hide from the world.  With those doors closed, nothing could hurt me, scare me, or make me feel bad.  The outside world could not touch me.  I was safe.

A few weeks ago, I shared this old coping mechanism with my therapist, Bethany, after she shared an image she had of me, as a little girl, crawling into my closet for a safe place to cry.  We were both a bit blown away by the accuracy of this image.

Later, in a different session, I was sharing with her how unsupportive M had been when it came to my struggle with depression, and how difficult it was for me to so often hear, “It’s all in your head.  I don’t understand why you can’t just get over it.”  (I know M tried.  It just wasn’t something he was fully capable of understanding, so I can’t blame him for his insensitivity.)  

I told Bethany that, in the aftermath of our breakup, I realized how greatly his words and attitude had hurt me, and I knew that the right man would be able to understand what I had been through and show me compassion as I occasionally continue to struggle.  She responded to my revelation with, “You need someone who will crawl into your closet with you.”

Wow.  Yes.  Exactly that.

I need someone who will crawl into my fear, my anger, and my sadness without reproach and without looking back.  I need someone who is willing to hold me while I shake, rage, and cry.  Someone to sit quietly by and simply be with me.  He doesn’t need to solve my problems, he just needs to be there to support me through them.

Honestly, I am still that little girl, curled up and crying on her closet floor.  A cancelled wedding and a broken heart will do that to you.  While I may not have literally crawled into my closet the day I received that phone call, I certainly began to build a figurative closet of protection around my heart.  It had been broken and needed to be guarded, so I did that by closing my heart off to the outside world.

As I was driving to work Wednesday morning, struggling with some thoughts and recollections I thought I had dealt with months ago, something struck me.

I need God in my closet.

While I may not be ready to let anyone else in, I need Him there.  I need God to join me in my fear, in my anger, and in my sadness.  Only He is trustworthy enough to see it all.  Only He is gracious enough to sit with me in silence with no judgment.  Only He is able to be exactly everything I need when the world around me forces me to withdraw into my safe place.

Only He can be trusted to never, ever, ever break my heart.

I need God in my safe place so I can once more trust in Him to be my safe place.

Maybe then I can begin again to open my heart to the rest of the world.

Guardedly yours,


13 thoughts on “Inviting God Into My Closet

  1. Thank you for sharing, Aubrey! I don’t know whether it’s because of my Lutheran heritage or the anticipation of our Reformation Sunday celebration coming up in just over a week, but reading your essay here made me think of “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” The next time I sing it, I will be sure to think of you in prayer as I do so. If you haven’t sung it or read the verses recently, maybe you’d find some shelter in those words too. (And if you wanted to temporarily change the title to “A Mighty Closet Is Our God,” I don’t think either God or ol’ Marty would mind!)

    Thanks again, and hugs and Peace to you!
    Brad Ambrose

    • Thank you, Brad, for your comment and your prayers. You have always been such a great encouragement, both inside and outside the classroom. I’m listening to that hymn right now, although I must admit that I giggle every time I replace “fortress” with “closet.” :)

      • You’re welcome, Aubrey! And, perhaps I should have suggested “Spacious Closet” as a replacement for “Mighty Fortress,” but then again (a) we wouldn’t want to forget the “mighty” part about God’s protection, and (b) who says a meaningful spiritual image can’t make you giggle too? : )

  2. Thanks for sharing this, Aubrey. I know what it feels like to start building up walls to protect yourself from the hurt and chaos others create. I will be praying for you. I love you.

  3. What a wonderful post! Funny and heartfelt and with a strong imprint of your faith and foibles…this is why I needle you to post more, because I know you’re capable of fantastic writing just like this. I like to think we all have a place like that somewhere in our childhood; for me it was the natty old garage attic full of opportunities to break one’s neck, rusty nails, and ancient auto body panels.

    Keep writing! And keep dreaming of that ultimate, impossible childhood fort made of pillows but also somehow a treehouse stocked with snowballs and soft-serve ice cream.

    • Thank you, Alex! Honestly, your comments mean more to me than I think you know. I mean, you are a published author and everything. :)
      I will indeed keep writing and dreaming. Thanks for the continued encouragement.

  4. hey old friend. you have such a way with words and ive had a really awful day. this post helped. thank you. lovingly yours, your old chem partner

  5. Hey Aubrey, thank you for sharing this. I know how you feel as I have built walls around my heart at times to protect myself from getting hurt as well. There have been several times that I have wanted to retreat to a safe place and just close myself off from the rest of the world. During these hard times I have learned that being with God is a safe place to be because you know He will always be there and loves and cares for you unconditionally. Trust and let Him help you out of that closet and tear down those walls. He knows what is best for your heart and what it needs and I am sure someday will reveal just the right guy for you who will help take care of your heart and treasure it and not hurt it. You are a precious, beautiful jewel in God’s eyes and He wants you to have the very best in life. You are a great friend Aubrey and I hope this is encouraging to you. I will be praying for you and hope all is well. Love you lots and miss you!

    • Oh, Laura, I don’t think I could express how much your words mean to me. Honestly, they brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for your friendship, prayers, and support. Love and miss you! <3

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