Think About It
Don't Deny the Junk in Your Life
By Laura J. Bagby
CBN.com Sr. Producer
As I entered my office, I was greeted by building services worker Harry, who was busily moving my furniture in preparation for a project that would renovate the adjacent meeting room. I share a main wall with the to-be-updated conference room, and according to the plans, building services needed to lob off two feet from the corner of my wall to allow for necessary space for the new entryway to the meeting room.
I had known about this endeavor for several weeks and it was just a matter of time when I would be temporarily uprooted.
My supervisor cheered me up with the notion that my office would gain a certain creative charm from its new shape, rather than the boring, stuffy four corners that everyone else had. I nodded in agreement. My office would be different, and that was more than OK with me. Thoughts of a unique, no-cookie-cutter-here space stroked my pride in the novel.
But that morning, upon seeing my desk overflowing with toppling piles of books, CDS, papers, snack foods, and drink bottles, I suddenly saw myself and my little office space the way most outsiders, including my friend Harry, viewed it: a chaotic explosion that needed to be cleaned!
One look on Harry’s face and I was riddled with embarrassment.
How could I let this space get so cluttered? I chided. I have got to get organized!
Harry’s response to my haphazardly strewn workspace was to jokingly say, “Well, you might not win the Good Housekeeping seal of approval.”
His words got me to thinking, Man, what kind of future wife and parent will I make with my messy habits? My ego was instantly deflated, although I know his intent wasn't bad.
Usually I don’t see the effusion of stuff that takes up residence on my desk. I blame it on being creative and left-handed. When I am doing some artistic endeavor, like writing or photography or a craft project, I really don’t “see” the mess around me.
But this day I saw it in all it’s–ugh!–glory. I don’t typically have “guests” in my office, and to see such a lack of cleanliness on my part was enough to make me want to raise my hands in surrender and plead, “Guilty as charged!”
Whether you or I have a clean office or a messy office, however, isn’t ultimately the point. I use the above illustration to extract some truths that can apply to a more global situation called the need for change.
Seeing Things as They Are
Let’s take that messy office as a sign that things aren’t right in your life and in your heart. We as Christians can get all comfy around our stinking stuff, can’t we? We hardly notice how our baggage weighs us down. Truth is, much of the time we don’t even know we are living in junk.
Maybe the “stuff” isn’t physical, but it still wears on our spirits and on our productivity in the Kingdom of God nonetheless. Maybe it’s our sin, or a character issue, perhaps a bad habit or a tainted attitude – but whatever it is, once someone else calls us on the carpet for it – and most especially if that guest is God Himself – we must get beyond the feeling of discomfort, the defensiveness and blaming, and the repentant tears and face ourselves.
This might sound strange, but welcome those moments when you have to see yourself and your life in the harsh light of reality. Someone is actually doing you a favor. As Proverbs 27:6 says, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” When you are stuck in muck, the last thing you need is someone who is going to tell you what you want to hear: everything is fine. You need a friend who will lovingly tell it like it is, even though that’s going to hurt. That’s what this proverb is trying to tell us.
Denial is familiar and cozy, but we will get sucked into the vortex of slothfulness unless we hear the clarion call for change. If we can’t tell ourselves the truth, then we certainly need someone who will.
Gaining a Different View
Now, I know it can be depressing to go eyeball to eyeball with the junk in your life. You feel overwhelmed and you don’t know how you are ever going to dig yourself out of the mess you created, though you know you desperately need to.
This is why it is vital to get a new perspective on whatever it is you are facing. Ask the Lord to show you. When you get a glimpse of what is possible, of what you and your life truly can look like with a little help from the Holy Spirit and willingness on your part, it is a freeing experience. Some people call this stage visualizing. I call it getting some grace-induced hope from on high.
The day my office got turned upside down, I had to find a new workspace. I located an empty office around the corner, took a couple of things I managed to quickly pluck from the burgeoning jumble on my desk, and got to work.
Surrounded by white walls and uncluttered space, I found myself sighing contentedly. So, this is what a clean office feels like? I found that I could think better and even more creatively in this neat area.
I gained a completely new viewpoint that afternoon, and I started to get excited.
Maybe I can try to be neat, too, I considered in a burst of inspiration.
Now, mind you, I know my tendencies: I am much more messy than I am neat. But I realized that change was and is possible. And that understanding in itself is huge when you are stuck in a rut.
That’s not to say change is easy. Excuses are by far easier. But in the long run, with some effort and the direction of the Holy Spirit, I can reign in my natural propensities so they aren’t controlling me. And the same goes for you.
I know that in part because the Bible says, “God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). Note that last word, self-discipline. We get that from God. So we can no longer use laziness or fear as an excuse.
If you are asking yourself, “Can I change? Can I really reach my goal?” The answer is “Yes, you can!”
Answering the Clarion Call
But here is the rub. We can get out of our denial and agree we need to change our ways. We can get a Holy Spirit-inspired view of what God wants us to do and to be. We can even get passionate about future change and believe we can do it. But if we don’t act on what we know, we have not accomplished anything.
We are like that man in the Bible that James talks about: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like (James 1:22-24).
We must take steps in the right direction and keep on taking those steps toward right thinking, right living, and right believing.
After returning to my messy office later that afternoon, I realized I had better tackle the mess then and there before the inspiration left and I found myself lost in a swirling stack of papers. So I spent time cleaning, organizing, and throwing things away.
And as I sit writing this to you now, I am looking around my office and realizing I need to clean again.
Those old ways do tend to creep in fast, don’t they? So we have to be on constant alert. We must keep a watchful eye on the internal state of our souls.
How are you doing? Do you need a spiritual housecleaning again? It’s OK to admit it. God already knows. Your junk is just as visible as the new pile of papers and books on my desk.
The key is not to get stuck in the stuff. The key is not to give up. The key is not to give in to fear and get lost in the quicksand of what we deem an impossible situation.
Don’t throw your hands up and say, “Oh, well, this is just who I am. I can’t seem to make progress.” Realize what you are really saying is, “I am lazy and I don’t want to change” – and we know that viewpoint isn’t valid since we have a God who desires transformation for each of us and calls us new creations.
An old Chinese proverb touts “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” It’s true.
Prayerfully start chipping away at the clutter. Confess that sin as sin, whether it’s a wrongful action or oversight, a bad attitude, or a hurtful habit. Repent. And then start following that roadmap again called God’s Word.
Let the Holy Spirit reveal the clutter in your heart and mind and ask Him to clean out your messy spaces.
Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin (Psalm 51:2).
All verses are taken from the New International Version of the Bible.
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Laura J. Bagby produces the Health and Finance channels. She writes inspirational, humor, singles, and health articles.
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