Friday, April 12, 2013

Taking Out the Trash

Trash is nasty. Simple as that. It is gross and disgusting and makes your nostrils experience terrible and scarring smells that may even traumatize the tiny little hairs inside too. Think about it....what kinds of things do we put in the trash? Rotten food that got left in the fridge for way too long, paper receipts that you kept from like 50 years ago and you waited entirely too long to throw them out, plastic bottles from all the water we buy instead of drinking out of the faucet. I'm not even going to expound on all the other despicable things that I can't even imagine right now....things that make worms and maggots and cockroaches live in bug heaven. So why do we have all this trash to throw away, and I don't mean from an environmental standpoint either? Why do we have so much stuff that seems so valuable at one point in our lives and the next it's just junk, waste, refuse? We even have created jobs for people to collect our trash. How sad is that. The fickleness of the human condition unfortunately.  We, as Americans, consume entirely too much trash.  We create mountains out of it and cover it up so we can forget that it even exists anymore.  Oh, and don’t even get me started on the people we call “hoarders” these days who make a living (if you can really merit the word considering their pitiful existence) out of piling up trash as collector’s items.  It’s as if a 6 month old carton of milk is as valuable as the Heisman Trophy.  Get real!  We all know that an 8 month old carton is much more special…..So I beg to offer this question:  How do we accumulate all this trash in the first place?  A word that Americans know so well…..EXCESS.  It is so ingrained in our society that most people don’t even think about it as a problem.  I know that there are a lot of initiatives out there dedicated to improving the environment and caring about the future generations.  But the environment isn’t the problem….we are the problem.  And it’s not a physical problem either.  It’s a heart problem.  There’s no high blood pressure, stroke, or heart attack involved, just pure and adulterated WANT for more than we already have.  Our lives are full of trash in our emotional, mental, psychological, and spiritual landfills that we can’t see the forest for the debris.  Debris that we created. 

This trash that we collect in our lives is hoarded up in our hearts and we are seemingly helpless to get rid of it.  We are walking around like the homeless guy on the street with the Walmart cart that is full of his most precious possessions (because that’s all he has in the world and we consider it to be trash).  We look down on people like this.  People who use our trash to find food, shelter, warmth from the freezing cold, and even under the most extreme and fatal situations, death because they have nowhere else to go.  We think we are so much better, but in fact we are just a whole bunch of fakes, better posers, that walk around with invisible Hefty bags hovering over us and under us.  The twist ties and pull strings are pulling at us and digging into our skin, but we take no notice because we are in denial.  We would rather have a million unseen scars all over our bodies than admit to ourselves, or anyone else for that matter, that you have a lot of junk you are carrying.   We have trash blinders over our eyes.  We can’t even identify and sort through the mess we have accumulated.  And for what reason?  Because we don’t want to see how messed up we all are…really.  We live in TrashDenialLand.  It’s a wonderful place, there’s free admission, and everyone is welcome, as long as you keep your own waste to yourself, not shoving it onto someone else.  That merits a dismissal from the park.  No more rides for you buddy.  Too much trash being tossed around here, as the security guard leads you out and adds a few bits of rubbish that keeps falling out of your supposed extra heavy duty non-biodegradable plastic bag. 

That’s the absurdity, we know we are carrying around the trash, yet we refuse to acknowledge it.  It’s like the pesky child who keeps annoying us in the grocery store over some stupid box of sugary cereal, knowing you are desperately trying to ignore their incessant pleading and begging.  You know they only want the toy at the bottom anyway.  So you act like you hear nothing and throw a huge box of Shredded Wheat in the buggy instead.  

So if we keep wearing the denial face and continue to accumulate more and more trash, do you know what we become…..buried alive.  Just like the hoarders on TV we become ruled by our garbage.  (Random side note:  I have never understood why a band would name themselves Garbage, but sure enough someone has done it.  Sad isn’t it.) 

Trash has never been a good thing.  It is the stuff we don’t want to look at or deal with and eventually we just become used to carrying it around with us while we just keep picking up more and more as we go through life.  It destroys our minds, our emotions, our decisions, our relationships, our futures.  We must be gluttons for punishment.  Who can live such a life?  Unfortunately people do this every day.  But is that really life?  Are we meant to live our existence carrying all this trash around?  Do we have to remain hoarders, or is there a treatment, rehabilitation, a life-altering experience that can get us out of this cycle of destruction.  You better believe it. 

I am reminded of a classic movie from the early ‘90’s.  It made Julia Roberts a bona fide movie star:  Pretty Woman.  A major motion picture about a hooker, street trash who realizes her life could be better.  She was walking the streets of Hollywood Boulevard and just happens to be in the right spot at the right time.  A handsome executive, looking for a good time, seeks out someone on the street corner, and there she is waiting.  Little did she know, but Vivian’s life would be changed forever by one man.  She meets Edward, played by Richard Gere (a huge star from the 80’s) who sweeps her off her stiletto feet and gives her a deal of a prostitute’s lifetime; a week of spending time with him and a buttload of cash as payment.  It was so much cash that she could get out of the business completely and get a “real” job.  Things weren’t as simple as she seemed though.  How difficult would it be to give the girl a makeover and successfully integrate her into the hoity toity society of Los Angeles?  There were some flubs and hiccups along the way, but what Edward never expected was that this fiery young woman would change his life as well.  Two completely different people from two completely different worlds, brought together on a trashy street corner, both with a burden and emptiness both from excessive living and the want for more.  What they finally realized was that they didn’t need more, they just needed each other.  They had to get rid of the trash in their lives in order to be together.  And as the story goes, they lived happily ever after….

That story reminds me of how God so desperately wants us to give him all our trash so we can be together with Him.  We walk the streets like Vivian hoping to find the next up and coming thing that we think will complete us and make us happy, but we end up disappointed every time.  Imagine the scenario:  Jesus owns a garbage company.  Let’s call it Grace Garbage Disposal.  He comes by anytime of the day, morning, noon, or night in hopes that he can throw some waste in His truck and haul it away.  So what are we waiting for people, where are all those Hefty bags right now?  Quit lugging them around and getting scoliosis from the heavy weight that keeps compressing our lives into nothing but pain and suffering.  The Lord says He is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  We don’t have to be crushed any longer.  Leave the bags at the road, haul them to the trash center, and hand them over to Him.  That’s the incredibly amazing part of the Grace Garbage Disposal.  The trash goes away.  It ceases to exist.  There is no landfill to take it to; God doesn’t need one.  Jesus proclaims:  “Come to me, all of you who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls; for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Can we not shout this from the depths of our souls, that we can be freed from the chains of EXCESS and WANT that create so much waste in our lives and drags us down until we cannot see the hand of Jesus until He is plunging it into the depths and pulling us out by his mighty strength.  He can do it, and He will if we ask it of Him.  He wants nothing more than to pull you out of the mire and place you on solid ground, build on the foundation of Christ and steady for all eternity.  Not a landfill, but a Solid Rock, carved by the Cornerstone Himself, etched in blood and pierced with the Body that was given for us.  His Grace doesn’t end, not even when you give over the garbage.  It is unconditional favor, because even as we give the trash of our lives over to Him, we can still be pulled down by the burdens of this world that seek to entangle and ensnare us.  So we must continually keep handing those Hefty’s over to the Grace Garbage Disposal, until one day we will be forever with the CEO whose home never ever creates anymore trash for all eternity.  The streets may be paved with gold, but there is no need for any trash receptacles, especially on Hollywood Boulevard.   

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