Our town recently had a city wide clean up day. Our sanitation company actually came around and picked up all the “junk” that people put out on the curbs. It’s amazing how much stuff everyone had. And it’s amazing how many negative comments about said stuff were on my Facebook feed.
Each person in town had a chance to clean up. Each person who had broken furniture, unwanted appliances, broken items, or even overflow trash got to finally get rid of it. It took vulnerability to put their junk out for all the town to see. I mean, all your past decorating decisions are now scattered across your curb… for days. I have to admit I wondered where half of these people could even store all that stuff.
But guess what? They got rid of it. It is no longer cluttering up their homes, garages, basements, or backyards. They are free-er now, cleaner, and one less burden sits on their to-do list. Good for you city of St. James!
So what would happen if you chose to do this same thing with your soul. What if you chose to declutter the guilt, the shame, the fears, past hurts, or even the sin that is taking up space in your life. What if you chose to have a body-wide clean up?
Yes, it would mean you’d be left vulnerable. Yes, it would mean some people may see the ugly mess come out. But it would also mean freedom, clarity, and less burdens.
James 5 13-16 gives us a picture of what cleaning up can do.
“Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has power and produces wonderful results.”
All these things require you to put yourself out there. All these things, suffering hardship, sickness, and sin can keep you from being your best self. And in order to get rid of them, you may have to share them with others. Tell people how you are suffering and ask for prayer. Admit your sick, and request someone to pray over you. Confess your sins to someone else.
Sickness sometimes comes across as weakness. No one wants to be weak, and so many suffer alone. Suffering can become overwhelming causing many to shut themselves off and suffer in the corners of their homes… alone. Sins. No one wants to even admit they’ve sinned, let alone tell others about what they’ve done wrong. And unfortunately sometimes even being happy is a vulnerable emotion that causes some to hold back. But freedom comes when we clean that up. When we put it out there to see, and we seek GOD. Throw out those insecurities let others see your struggle and let God come by with his big truck and load it up!
Confession is for accountability. If we knew that our every sin would need to be told to others, we’re less likely to do it. So when we set out to confess to others, we are keeping ourselves accountable and asking someone to help us. And asking for help is not easy. But it’s so very needed.
Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable is therapeutic for the soul. Getting rid of the junk is freeing. The days before the actual clean up days our town was given permission to put things out on the curb. This allowed people to drive around and see broken dressers that could possibly be fixed. Or scrap metal that could be hauled in for cash, or chairs that could be reupholstered and be the perfect gem in their home decor. It was true “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” The same is true when we open ourselves up and share our struggles. When we show others how human we are they begin to feel human, too. When we confess our sins to another and allow them to walk with us, we give them the treasure of having a real friendship. And seeing God heal those wounds is the greatest treasure to share. Our hurts, struggles, and sin can be used to minister to others… but we can’t keep them heaped up in the recesses of our souls. We have to get them out.
Our town looked pretty messy for a few days. The work was so great the workers couldn’t get it done in one day. But now, just a day later, it’s beautiful. All the junk is gone. Cleaning up our lives won’t be a simple day’s work. But it will be beautiful in the end.
A few disclaimers here…
- Be careful who’s curb your put your junk. Not everyone wants to help you clean up. There are mean and vicious people out there. When you confess your sins to them, they will not help you reconcile to God. Instead they will throw your failures in your face and try to do more harm than good. As important it is to put yourself out there, it is just as important WHO you give the information to. Find a trusted friend.
- Don’t go right back to filling up the empty spaces with more junk! Once it’s out, turn to God to replace what is missing. Let him heal the wounds, correct the lies, and rebuild your faith. Let Him lead you back to greatness and away from sin… and if you really did just throw out a ton of trash, don’t start collecting it again in your garage!
- Sometimes people can’t see the good that is coming from the clean up. Just like people griped about the stuff cluttering the curbs, they will complain about you speaking about the negatives trying to clean yourself. Focus on the good of getting things out and in the safe open. And don’t focus on the naysayers.
- If you aren’t already connected with a church, this is a great place to start. Church can open up a great source for great people. But always keep #1 in mind as unfortunately hurt people can oftentimes hurt people.
But it is time for a body-wide clean up! You’ll be thankful you did!