Clean out the Clutter, Take out the Trash

Summer 2010 was going to be a first for me.

Almost a quarter of a century old, newly graduated, single and loving it — the world seems like an open country beckoning me to explore.

My parents and I were supposed to go to the US (my dad’s umpteenth time, my mum’s second time and my first). Unfortunately, my VISA application was denied on the very same reasons listed above:

Young, Newly Graduated, Single. {That folks, is the beauty of profiling}

As soon as I walked out of the US Consulate, I began to list out all the things that I was gonna be able to do – now that I wasn’t going to the U.S. In a way, it was a coping mechanism – thinking positive – trying to keep myself from becoming TOO disappointed.

That very afternoon, I bought a Canon Powershot G11 – in demonstration of the retail therapy that I often resort to.

At church, everyone offered their sympathies but I brushed it off just making fun of the whole situation – yet another defense mechanism.

Then, I decided to stay over at a friend’s house – just for the first night my parents were away – that way I wouldn’t be so lonely.

However, I also began to feel myself ‘skimming’ on things that I know are less than completely pure. I find myself hungry for my old escape – wandering around the entrance of my old haunts. I’ve ventured close enough to remember how easy it would be to just forget – for a little while. I’ve always felt the draw of temptation but right now, there is weight to that call – there is a compulsion – like a siren’s song. I can scarce do anything but practice my humming. That’s when I knew, these few weeks will be quite a struggle indeed.

I also decided to plan a daily routine. Everyday, I would [1] do the house chores [2] exercise [3] eat breakfast, prepare a big lunch and a healthy light dinner [4] get some projects done for church and other ministries [5] spend time with God.

Today’s BIG project was cleaning up the house. Strangely, even after cleaning the floor and the toilet, the house feels the same as before I cleaned. Cluttered – is how I might best describe the normal state of my house. My parents and I are very busy people, none of us really have much time to do cleaning (on a regular basis). Thus, everything just gets dusted under the rug – figuratively speaking of course.

This brings me back to the sermon that was preached at church yesterday – about “being self controlled and alert”, “not being drunk on wine”, “setting your minds into action”…. It never occurred to me that that verse wasn’t just pertaining to the issue of drinking. It has to do majorly with making sure that our minds that our spirit is sensitive to God. That we are not impaired by any earthly thing – keeping us from experiencing God.

We’re all runners in a race. We must keep pushing forward, forgetting what lies behind and setting our hearts on the prize — cutting away at anything superfluous in our lives that might keep us from running better. Its not just the ‘earthly things’, its the beautiful things – the things we enjoy – the things that keep us from running our best. That’s why its so difficult.

I’m very attached to my routines and to my way of doing things. I’ve long survived on learned behaviours, coping strategies and defensive mechanisms to keep me insulated from reality. But these very things have also kept me from experiencing God – his abundance, his mercy, his sufficiency.

The lesson learned: we can try our best to ‘clean up’ our lives but for as long as we don’t take out the trash, things won’t be much different. So what about you? What’s the clutter in life? Are you ready to take out the trash?

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