I hate cleaning out the refrigerator.
Next to ironing, it’s my least favorite thing to do. If you could put both of those chores in a sack, throw them off a high cliff, and let them sink into the depths of the sea I might actually enjoy housework. Maybe. 🙂
Since I despise fridge duties, I’ve observed the strategies of others in hopes of finding a way that works for me. Here’s what I discovered:
- Some people are clean freaks. They make sure to NEVER have any nearly-empty containers, germ incubators, or mold growers lurking inside their refrigerators. All items are arranged either by alphabet or size with labels facing the front. The fridge’s shelves and walls are spotless, but there’s not much in there. It’s much too clean and orderly to clutter things up with food!
- Some folks are hoarders. They wait until there is not a single inch of space left in any drawer, compartment, or shelf to put another thing. Then, and ONLY then, will they throw out ONE funky-looking thing to make room for something new.
- Then, finally, there are the clutter cleaners. They set aside a day and take EVERYTHING out of the refrigerator and place it on the counter where decisions can be made. Does it stay or does it go? Once everything is sorted out, they give the fridge a once-over and put back the things worth saving.
When it comes to our emotional well-being, we might use similar strategies to clean up our thoughts and actions. In fact, the Bible has examples of all these approaches.
- The legalistic Pharisees were the clean freaks. They wanted spotless lives – ones that shined from observing all the minute facets of the Old Law. Not only did they want their lives to appear spotless, but they also expected others to follow all their rules. When Jesus came to fulfill the Law, they had a hard time adding any of His goodness and grace into their already-ordered lives.
I’ve been that kind of religious rule follower and can testify to the bondage that keeps a legalist on a very short chain. There is complete freedom in cleaning out the boundaries we set or let others set for us. Let’s replace them with God’s boundaries of loving ourselves and others in ways that honor Him. His ways are good for us and give us joy!
- King David may have served well as king, but not as a father. He was a hoarder of emotions who begat more hoarders. David created a mountain of family chaos by overlooking many of his sons’ faults. Though David was a mighty warrior, he either lacked the gumption or ignored his responsibility in dealing with family conflict. Just a few strong reprimands could have saved the very lives of many of David’s children as well as those under his leadership. One of his most horrendous oversights affected his daughter Tamar. Amnon, Tamar’s step-brother, raped her and then tossed her aside. Though David became furious at the news, he did nothing. Meanwhile, the rage inside Tamar’s brother Absalom grew hotter and hotter until he finally had Amnon killed. Emotions that are stuffed, hoarded, and never dealt with have a way of erupting like a science fair volcano. No one with a heart for God enjoys conflict, but when emotions and hurtful actions are allowed to simmer, are ignored, or are minimized sad things happen.
- The apostle Paul was a clutter cleaner. The Galatian’s refrigerator lives had been filled with a distorted, germ-filled gospel and moldy chains of legalism. Paul went so far as to call them foolish Galatians! The letter he sent encouraged them to empty out the contents of their hearts, place them on the table, and sort through the good and the bad. With all the bad thrown out, they had plenty of room to refill their lives with all the good things they had first heard about Jesus.
My prayer is that we all tap into some supernatural courage. Let’s have those difficult conversations we’ve been avoiding. It’s never easy, but it’s always good to clear the air. Maybe it’s time to lay everything out on the table, sort through all of the emotion, discard what stinks, and find the good in one another again.
Life is short. Does your heart need cleaning?