Cleaning House

Tonight I did a very courageous thing. I looked under my bathroom sink and pulled out the stuff I have been pushing backward into the dark for years. I brought it into the light one bottle, jar and packet at a time. I looked each one over carefully, opened a few, smelled the contents and tried to decipher smudged labels to determine how long I’d had it.

Then I did what I have been avoiding for a long time. I made a decision. I began to toss those fancy plastic packages, one at a time, into my little green waste basket until it positively overflowed.

There was a lot to sort through. Most of it landed in the now bulging bin: mousses, masques, gels and creams; lotions, potions, waxes, oils and spritzes, even a few cute but empty containers. The brands were varied: Body Shop, Avon, Arbonne, MAC, Mizani, Neutrogena, KeraCare, Cream of Nature, Eucerin, Body Shop, Bath & Body Works, Victoria’s Secret.

A lot of wasted money. Some of that stuff, I’m not proud to say, had hardly been touched. Some of it felt slimy when I rubbed it on, broke out my skin or flatly didn’t deliver on the advertising claims. Finally, I let it go.

As I finished my little chore, spontaneously begun as I searched for something practical like a bottle of alcohol, it dawned on me that what I have been doing with cosmetics is a metaphor for what we sometimes do with life. We collect a lot of costly baggage over time only to realize later – if we are honest – that much of it is worthless garbage. Spiritually toxic waste.

Instead of discarding it, we keep it hidden in the back closets of our minds and hearts. We know it’s there, taking up space better reserved for more honorable and productive things. Getting rid of it would mean having to face our bad choices and poor judgments head-on, reliving some of our worst moments.

We would finally have to accept hard truths. We might have to admit that we picked up things along the way – things we thought we had to have, couldn’t live without – only to learn that they were poison. We know now what we are loath to admit: “I was wrong. I made a mistake.”

Confession is hard, but it’s also good for the soul. To confess simply means to agree with what we know to be true, to concede the point, declare it openly… no more denial.

Proverbs 28:13 says, people who conceal their sins won’t prosper, but those who confess and forsake them will have mercy.

I don’t know about you, but I need a lot more mercy and much less hidden junk. So, while it may be the dead of winter, it’s as good a time as any to clean house. I invite you to join me in getting into those dark places and starting to deal with your stuff. Time to start fresh. The best is yet to come!

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