Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Clutter and Kudzu

“Every rejection we experience, until forgiven and healed, we will project onto another. Such pain and anger has to go somewhere.” How does that sit with you? That hit me like a wrecking ball to my chest—wham! Partly a surprise and partly “That is absolutely true!” Fortunately reading that line only made the huge ruckus inwardly, but if it could have been heard, it would have awakened the dead. Why so much noise? The blow was so great that it rocked through decades of my life. I think it is a statement I have been living out for years. I have made up answers and even “dealt” with it—or so I thought—but what is the answer to this? What do you do with anger, rejection, and pain? It has to go somewhere but—where?

I noticed it years ago in a funny sort of way. I was cleaning and thought about how much I hate clutter. The clutter that just comes with life; the kind that is “Honey…”, or “Hey, Mom…”, where did you put the yellow paper that was lying here last week? I left it right on the table—where did you put it?” I would answer to my husband or kids, “Have you noticed how many meals ago that was, Sweetheart? Last week, that was like a light year ago! No, I am sorry, I don’t know…” That is never where it ended. Clutter seems to grow like kudzu once it takes root—it grows and before long it takes over and covers everything.

So as I thought about clutter around the house, somehow I realized that there is emotional clutter. And just like I hate physical clutter, I hated emotional clutter. I found out that I hid it, stuffed it, or tried to let it go. I noticed it never really went anywhere though, that it either oozed out or fell out or dropped out at the most unwanted times. I spent years memorizing and meditating it away. I think I reduced the size but never got rid of it. I organized it, decorated it, shifted it, and got it out of sight but “it” was still lurking about. Rejection doesn’t go away; I think it may even develop into anger.

I remember Buddy preaching on floating hostility. I thought, “You know, I think I deal with that, I wonder how do I get rid of it?” So I tried harder and harder and harder till it gets really old trying so hard. I think I got so good at getting rid of it that I thought it disappeared when perhaps I only got it out of my sight into some floating balloon that didn’t appear to be there at all, floating higher and higher until you think it is gone it is so high. Until… you go through some low spaces or rough ceilings or storms gather atmospherically and ka-boom! Anger is dripping all over surprising the daylights out of me. I thought it was gone only to find out I tied it to something or another—like an old memory. And when I went through some prickly circumstance the balloon was likely to pop even though I had no idea it was even still out there.

So how do you get rid of it? And not only anger, but also whatever the junk of life that litters your space. Bag it? Then what? It is piles of trash bags. The cure is so simple: it is overlooked and underused. Confess it! That’s it—confess it? Yes, and confession is just saying back to God what you believe to be true that is not necessarily truth. Our feelings feel true, disappointment, worthlessness, abandonment—they may even be true like sadness, but what we believe about it is generally a lie. Whatever lie we believe we act upon—true or not. We begin to live that truth out which may lead to wrong actions because wrong belief leads to wrong actions.

So, to confess it we can sit down, close our eyes and tell God what we believe, even when it is not accurate—it does not surprise Him—He already knows. But as we confess this and give it to Him at the cross, these are the things that He already died for so we did not have to carry them and be filled with the pain and the filth they cause. We give them to Him, and they are GONE. Not rearranged, resorted into a closet or stored in the attic, but removed! That’s when 1 John 1:9 becomes so real—“If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Recently we had to have the roof replaced on the back sun porch area. They brought in a dumpster but only partially filled it so there was all this space left in it. As I looked at the dumpster with space to spare and the potential to remove clutter from the garage into that dumpster, I couldn’t help but start cleaning and cleaning and cleaning some more. I had a hey day throwing things away, which led to doing the same in a half a dozen other places throwing, pitching, removing junk—it was wonderful! It was all hauled away—gone! Not just rearranged or resorted or stashed somewhere else but really cleaned away. Several closets, the storage shed, and the garage are better than new, functional, and a pleasure to be in. It was transforming; the difference was good enough to have been on a television show or a magazine article with the “before” and “after” shots. We can actually park cars in there! Novel idea.

That is what it was made for but not what it was functioning as; I think lives can be that way as well: we are made for God’s pleasure and to fellowship with Him, but we get so much junk and clutter, we can hardly even operate for that which we were made. We need somewhere to get rid of it all. We need to agree with God that we do not want it anymore, that it is garbage, and take it to Him. Give it piece by piece to Him at the cross; then feel the joy of it being removed and that it is no longer yours to manage or carry. Experience the clean. Experience the load lifted. And experience functioning as you were made to be. What joy and delight is yours for the taking, taking it to the cross emptied from you onto Him the One who died so you could live unhindered, fresh and pure. Why would we trade that for filth, junk, and piles of garbage unable to be used for all that we were created to be? Sounds like a no brainer to me.

The day we finished the garage overhaul happened to be the night of two of the grandbabies birthday parties. It was going to be in their backyard, but it was one of those spring days that poured 30 minutes, then the sun shined, poured again, and back to sunshine, being quite unpredictable. One of our adult kids called, “If we could have it out in our yard, we are prepared, but if it is raining at the time of the party, the house would never hold all these folks. Would you consider having it at your house? “Okay, how many are you expecting?” “About 20 something kids from 2-4 and a little more than that in adults.” she said. I told her, “You won’t believe how great a space this newly cleaned area would be for all the kids to play—in the garage! Would you be insulted if we had the party in the garage? It is clean enough to eat off the floor!” With the doors opened it made a perfect place for 23 kids under age 4 to play plus 27 parents to watch as they ran in and out, rode toys in the driveway on their riding cars, scooters and strollers. It was a perfect place for a party—it would have never even been considered before the big redo. It had been too full of other stuff to even be considered.

Could we be missing out on some really great things God wants to do because we have all the junk of life, piling up stuff that only renders us useless compared to what God really intended? Don’t you want to get rid of all that so easily weighs us down?

I think I had a spiritual garage full of clutter; I may have unknowingly kept the clutter of unforgiveness, rejection and hurt. They piled high, and I had nowhere to get it removed, no one seemed to be able to tell me where the dumpster was located; it seemed to return or be stuck. Why was that? Pain varied. Sometimes it was tears, sometimes it was anger, but almost always it hurt. It projected itself onto others and into relationships. Did I want that? No! Did I try to remove or replace it? Yes! Then why was it still there?

Somehow it was still me trying to deal with it, shuffling it around, like trying to make the nut disappear from under the cups by shuffling them faster and faster like spiritual magic. I had always wondered why the cross never really made me cry and why I did not seem to cherish it like some I knew. I believed in it; I believed Jesus died on it; I believed He died in my place—so I could go to heaven. What I seemed to miss is that it is where you dump sin, deposit garbage, and receive new truth for your old bag of lies. It was a place to look at Jesus to see His death, His bloodied body: His pain was for my junk. I could leave it all there. It was not a one-time visit only. It was more than getting the house in heaven; it was the daily way to stay relationally whole. It was part of daily living not just for salvation but a place to be daily freed from the messy, smelly affects of life in this world. Now I LOVE that place! I am so grateful for its power! Ahhhh, the cross. It brings beauty; it is the place to leave all those unwanted pieces of broken life. It is a place to realize He wants to relieve us from it all. He knew how awful this all would feel, so He took it for us and wants to not only carry it for us but also give us truth.

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