Suck it Up!

Sometimes the most unexpected lessons can come from very common sources. The only thing we need to receive these great lessons is to just be open to them and … NOTICE.

As you well know, it’s a good idea to periodically vacuum your carpet and floor space. After all, this where you live, and every time someone enters the room, they bring a little bit of the dust and dirt that the world offers, into your living space. Including you.

This morning when I opened the closet door, and grabbed my vacuum, I noticed (Once again) that my vacuum seemed unusually heavy.  And if I’m not mistaken, I had actually thought of that before AND wondered why it wasn’t cleaning as well as it use to. (duh)

Because my vacuum is one of the newer type models where you never have replace your dust bags, I guess I took a few things for granted and never once considered that periodically I had to dump and clean out the canister. (Yeah, I know.)

It’s so easy to get way too busy with the day to day business and things that press in and demand my time. So much so, that little important things often slip from view – or consciousness.

This time, however, it wasn’t just my vacuum that needed a new cleaning. There was something much more important to clean than that.

For the past couple of weeks I’d been quite aware of wrestling with dark, oppressive thoughts – you know them … thoughts about my age, my singleness, my work, my lack of “me-time”, the bills that come faster than the work (paying work) … and on and on.

Then tragedy hit my state with a horrendous massacre at a local movie theater. Precious friends had a relative there and other stories began to emerge from other friends of people they knew who had been killed, or horribly wounded. We’re still waiting to hear whether these innocent people will recover, and what the quality of their life will be.

As with many in our city, the news of this has impacted us in a very deep and personal way. I found myself suddenly not able to work and weeping softly for no reason. My subconscious brain would search for a reason and then settle on the daily challenges, or more commonly, past experiences.

The all too familiar pattern of grieving over lost dreams would surface along with the realization that life certainly didn’t turn out the way I had assumed it would as a child. Yet at the same time, I would ask myself why I kept going there, because I wouldn’t be who I am now, nor would I have the answers I do now, or the capacity to love, as I do now … if it weren’t for those experiences.

As I’d reflect back on what I’d accomplished during the week, I’d see that I was still accomplishing things I’d planned and was marveling at some of the conversations I’d been blessed to have where I could encourage someone else and offer support and answers that in their words, “changed their life.”

Nothing that I could think of justified my dark and oppressive mood. Even this morning, before leaving for church, I struggled with thoughts of just quitting .. not not knowing what would come next … after quitting.

Knowing that it’s MY responsibility to cast down vain (worthless) imaginations, I began to change my internal language and to change surroundings.  The lovely drive through the country side always helps me here as I drove to work and spoke words of praise and thankfulness (a more desirable mindset). By the time I reached the church I was receptive to healthier activities and attitudes.

After returning home, I decided it was time to do a little spring cleaning … which brings me back to the over-burdened vaccuum cleaner. (ahem)

Much to my horror, the vacuum was so full of dust and yuk that I could hardly remove the canister – and certainly not without dumping contents on the floor. Immediately I noted the similarities between the vacuum and myself … and those who serve others.

People who serve others … counselors, pastors, medical personnel, teachers, police, etc., are people who are not only are dealing with their own internal chatter and life experiences (dust that we all bring into our house from living in this world) They are also the ones who go in to clean up after everyone else’s messes.

Like the vacuum cleaner, we enter another person’s life to teach, encourage, support, direct, heal, etc. and like the vacuum, suck up all of the pain, sorrow, drama and troubled thoughts that others are struggling with.

The problem is, if we don’t notice just how heavy our world is becoming and we continue to push and “suck it up” (pressing in through our own efforts) we not only become weighed down by daily events, our emotions, and mind become seriously bogged down by dark and ‘dirty’ thinking.

If you find yourself grumbling and complaining or grieving without a solid reason, or if you are easily angered and impatient, it’s time to check to not only see how much of your own dirt you can rid yourself of, but what dirt are you carrying around that originally belonged to someone else?

Begin with your vacuum, or you as a person, then extend it to other areas. The world around us is a reflection of OUR choices that we have made. The order of our drawers, our closet, our garage or storage unit, the condition of the sink … all of it reflects our approach to life.

Clutter, dirt, stacks of paper are all a sign of slipping into captivity of the ‘victim’ sort … which comes from not making decisions or being realistic about the daily maintenance and balance of our lives.

After all … why do you think that Jesus had a HABIT of leaving early in the morning to be alone with His Father? I’m sure He had a few things to get off His chest from time to time.

What makes us think that we don’t have to? Why are we driving to press in and present ourselves as perfect and blameless to those who know darn good and well that we aren’t?

Oh wait … I know the answer to that. It’s because we were created in the image of God … and we have a tendency to think that we ARE god and can do better (without God’s help.)

We’re a mess! Time to pull apart a few things and do some deep cleaning … without guilt … it’s just normal maintenance.


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