It’s Time to Close the Front Door



It’s one of the Ten Commandments of a happy and healthy Idelette: Thou shalt not go on any rides. No spinning Teacups or crazy Beach Parties or howling Hellevators. I learned this very early on in my life at a fair in the town of Worcester in South Africa. (I’ll spare you the details.)

Imagine my surprise then when I experienced this same feeling after sitting on the floor all morning through one of our SheLoves editorial meetings this summer. It might have been the cups of coffee consumed that morning plus not enough sleep that week plus spinning my head from side to side, trying to listen intently to the Lovelys in my living room.

I was effectively shut down for the day. Except, I had four boisterous children to love and feed and some longtime favourite friends arriving from Seattle for an overnight visit. I left the front door open and lay down on the couch, praying for a miraculous healing. Please, Jesus. 

When Ellie and Doug arrived, I apologized profusely and lay right back down on the couch. For the next hour, we chatted like that from my horizontal position. I prayed the feeling would pass, but it didn’t, and so, like the salt-of-the-earth friends that they are, they left and drove back to Seattle.

I felt mad for pushing myself to the edge of my energy and capacity, letting my margins shrivel up.

I lay there on the couch, letting it all sink in. I had disappointed my friends. I had disappointed myself. I hated that. I wanted to learn from the experience.

After a while, our nine-year-old whirled past on her way to the kitchen.

I suddenly had an overwhelming urge and I called out for her help: “Telah, could you please close the front door?”

She stopped, surprised. Why, Mommy?

The kids are so used to our door being open, especially in the summer. I love welcoming in the sunshine and the neighbourhood. It’s a symbol of my desire to be open, welcoming, and neighbourly.

But that afternoon I had an overpowering desire to close it.

“It’s time to close the door, my darling,” I said to her.

It’s time to close the front door.

The moment I said those words, shivers were running down my hairy front arms. I sensed a penetrating question: Are you hearing what you’re saying, Idelette? Truly hearing?

It was time to close the front door.

So, we did. We shut the door and it felt like a giant permission slip.

It felt like permission to focus on the people right close—the four young ones living within our walls, requiring my love, attention and presence, including our new Korean homestay student. It felt like permission to just pull in close and establish our family during a time of transition.

We were all fresh in the throes of the new restaurant with Scott working long hours and missing most family meals. I felt the loneliness, but also the opportunity to draw close. I knew this was only a season.

I set out to learn from that closed door.

It spoke to me of what I needed to say Yes to and when I needed to say No.

It spoke to me of the Yes that lies on the other side of a No.

It spoke to me of devotion.

I learned that devotion implies an intentional move towards the things, the people and the projects that require my face.

I was very aware of the book project that hadn’t moved much since January. I imagined I could move it forward, while still living my full life. I just thought, O, I’ll pick up this other big ball and we’ll move all of these big balls forward together. But there wasn’t enough juice for all of it. Saying yes to every field trip and scheduling my life full of meetings and activities—good things—meant the book project didn’t get the attention it needed. I wasn’t moving it forward at any pace that made sense. And by the time May came around and we opened the restaurant, I suddenly found myself having no margin for a writing project. As much as I wanted to do it all, every time I said Yes to more activity, I said No to the book.

So, in the midst of summer, I closed the front door and I stopped making appointments and I ceased any invitations. I did activities with the kids and I allowed myself space to breathe in the way that only the bold blue Pacific Northwest sky can breathe Life into your bones again.

I paused and did a lot of dishes.

When September came along and the rush of school activities wanted to pick up, I knew I had a choice. I knew I could jump right back into it all, but I knew, in doing so, I wouldn’t honor the desire of my heart. The thing I wanted to do, was create space to write. I wanted to move the book forward with deep intention and devotion. There were expectations, but I knew I had a choice. I could lean into the expectation, but defy the hunger in my heart for the space to write.

Then on a bold Tuesday afternoon and evening, I started sending emails and messages to the people in my world who  expected me to show up for the new September season of activity. I said, I’m sorry, but I need to gear down. At a time when everything was gearing up, I knew in my heart that I needed to gear down.

After I’d sent the first email and felt the permission pulsing through my veins, it became easier to send the others. I knew I would hurt some people. I knew there would be a cost for others. But the cost of not leaning into the project that was growing in my belly, felt too painful not to obey.

I said, No.

I said, I’m stopping this.

I said, I can’t do this in this season.

It all felt hard, but right.

I learned that devotion is a Yes, but it also requires many little No’s.

So often we think of devotion as a practice of spending time with the Holy One. We think of it as love poured out to children, a partner, our community.

I think of devotion as turning my face towards the person or project that needs my face, my heart, my time, my energy. It needs my Yes. Sometimes it asks me to close the door to the many other relationships, possibilities and opportunities that will come and do come.

I have to ask myself, How much do I really want this? Am I willing to disappoint others? Am I willing to raise eyebrows and have others wonder about my affinity and affiliation?

Closing the front door is a risk. It challenges my beliefs. If I say I believe that I am enough and I am loved, will I be loved, even when I don’t show up or risk on behalf of others? Will I still be loved when I don’t give of myself in the way I used to?

I am still giving of myself. I am just pouring it into (for now) invisible ways. I pour it into sentences and ideas, but behind closed doors. I’ve shut out the world for a season and it’s what my soul needs to move forward in writing.

I’ve been surprised how much I love the room to think, dream, pray, be alone and write. It’s still a struggle. I have to fight the demons of melancholy and self-worth. I’ve probably been on too many field trips. I have to both overcome myself and have grace for my process. I have to figure out, day by day, moment by moment, who I am and what I want to say. I feel incompetent and lacking and yet … This space feels like a gift. Jesus feels close. I am reveling in this adventure in deep devotion, walking slowly but intentionally in the direction of a dream.


Lovely, what time is it in your world? 

Where do you need to close the door?

Which doors do you need to close in order to be present to the things that matter most to you right now?

Where are you wanting to say Yes?

Where do you need to say No?

We have an opportunity here to talk about the things that matter to us as women. This month our theme  is “Devotion.” It may be a loaded word, but I hope we can bring to it fresh interpretation and revelation. I want us to have the door open to the things that need us, the things that move us forward in the right ways … Closing a door simply means we are opening a door somewhere else. I think that says a lot about Devotion. I hope you will join us and share your insights along the way.

with LOVE,


Image credit: Matthew Ragan