Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Clean Your Side of the Street

I woke up this morning thinking on this and knowing-- it's time. I've put this off for nearly an entire month now but my Higher Power is no longer interested in excuses, it's time for honesty. It is time to clean my side of the street. For the past few years I have developed the ritual of using the New Year as a time to do some inner housekeeping. It is my time to look back on the previous year and take an inventory of my contributions both good and bad to the disasters and successes of that year. I have learned it is especially important for me to find my part in the areas where I was hurt by others.

As readers of my blog know, my Higher Power is God, and I find lots of simple and valuable instruction in the Bible to help me with this process. Psalm 51, verses 1-3 say, "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me." For all other recovering Baptists, Methodists, or Catholics who feel an inner wall of defense rise at any Bible verse with the word SIN, allow me the space to translate into palatable terms. What this verse is saying to me: "God, I am willing to get honest and KNOW my mistakes. Here they are for you. It's been littering my side of the street and the job of cleaning it is just too much for me! I've been told you make this powerful cleaning solution that takes out any stain and that you've done some great work on other street corners, so would you mind stopping by today for a little cleaning session with me? Thanks!"

It is really that simple! Well, not really. The easy part is that God does the cleaning, the hard part is getting honest about each and every piece of junk lying out there on my sidewalk. This is my springboard for honesty and please do not be alarmed if this seems a bit much for the Honesty Beginners. I think of the instances when I was most hurt and angered by other people in the last year. Generally, I have already listed a lengthy and detailed inventory of every piece of garbage on THEIR side of the street. Now I take an honest look at my own part in that situation. How did I contribute? How might I have been particularly vulnerable to that type of situation happening to me? Did I make it worse? Was I quick to judge and slow to offer solution or personal change? Do I harbor resentment for what he/she did? Did I retaliate and make things worse? How did I enable that person to continue that kind of behavior toward me? How is my failing to take responsibiliy maintaining an unhealthy pattern? Ouch, ouch, and ouch.

There are several reasons why this arduous process is necessary. First of all, completing this makes me happy. Psalm 51 goes on to say, "wash me and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice." Having a clean conscience feels so good. Secondly, cleaning my side of the street renews my energy to begin other important tasks, "Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me."

"THEN I will teach transgressors your ways and sinners will turn back to you," explains Psalm 51:13. Translation: "after you get honest about yourself and ask God to clean you up, you will become a happy, peaceable person. You will become productive and willing to participate daily in honesty." When you live this way, other people in your life almost have no choice but to change with you. They are not put on the defensive by your assaults or criticisms, because you are keeping the focus on yourself. They see you happy and productive and begin to want that for themselves.

For anyone trying to figure out a way to bypass this process, let me save you some time, you just can't do it. Trust me, if anybody could have solved her own problems on her own with the right books, the right friends, and taking the class-- it would have been me. Your Higher Power alone is able to do for you what you cannot do for yourself and that is heal you of your own weaknesses. "You do not delight in sacrfice, or I would bring it: you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." Psalm 51:16,17

So, I have a little time set aside today to go through the junk on my street. I am prepared that it is probably even worse than it looks from up here in my ivory tower, but I am not overwhelmed. I have a Higher Power who has been just waiting for the day when I would ask for some help in cleaning this. I've been told He has some great plans for what we can do with my little street corner.

Photo found here:


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