It was a usual night. The dinner dishes were washed and set aside to dry and all surfaces were wiped clean. I began the final descent of my kitchen duties by reaching for the switch to the garbage disposal. I flipped the switch but quickly turned it back off when I heard a loud grinding sound. The sound of metal on metal coming from the abyss in the sink is never good.
I slipped my shoes on and ventured out into the freezing cold garage to retrieve my big flashlight. I came back to the area of operation and shone the light in every angle, but I could not spot anything. I turned the disposal on and off real fast to get whatever it was to move, then searched with the light again. I could not see anything that would cause that horrible sound.
In my search for what was causing a disruption to my disposal ability, the light in my hand began to uncover some other hidden stuff. I really did not want to acknowledge what I was finding. A big part of me just wanted to put the cap back over the hole and pretend I was still clueless. I was a little more than frustrated at this addition to my chores. It was late, and my body ached from a medical procedure the day before. It was a bad night for this, but really, is there ever a good time for such an interruption?
I like to think that I’m a clean person. Some of my friends even like to tease me about being a little OCD. I’ll admit, if I had the time and energy I could allow myself to be, but I have met OCD and that I am not – not entirely anyway.
Despite my exhaustion, I needed to find what was grinding down in the hidden parts of my trusty garbage eater. I began to reach in – not happily – and pull out the several layers of rubber rings that fit snug beneath the black cap. Just to be clear and for future reference, I’m speaking of the black cap that I bleach often. What I discovered underneath was disgusting! The bottom side of those rings, that was hidden from my eyes, was growing something. Though, I’m sure it had eyes staring right back at me. Stuff was blooming in every crevice. Every fold had something that was mutating and it held a very tight grip to those rubbers seals. Something unpleasant had taken up residency and was not about to let go easily. I tried to hose it off with hot water, but it was not budging. It was gross, and I had no choice but to reach in and pull those seals completely out in order to get rid of the unwanted invader. So in my hands went, and out came all the stuff as my stomach did a flip-flop. I submerged all the parts in a bowl of strong vinegar and water overnight. What I’d hoped would be a quick fishing job had just turned into a much larger one man expedition. It needed to be done if I wanted a healthy environment.
The next morning, I walked out of my bedroom and was punched hard in the nose with the strong odor of vinegar. It was not pleasant! To clean up can really stink things up for a long time. It takes a less than pleasant smell sometimes in order to detox a toxic area. I began to rinse off what I could, but the layers of unwanted stuff was strong. It was going to take a whole lot more than a soak to clean this now exposed mess. I put everything back in the bowl and reached for the bleach. The vinegar killed the unwanted fungus but bleach was a must to release its iron-grip. It was really getting stinky now!
Several hours later and a house overwhelmed with the smell of a vinegar and bleach cocktail, I was finally able to chisel away the growth and put everything back in its place – healthy.
As I dealt with this detour in my routine, I couldn’t help but think of how often we need to dig deep into those hidden places within ourselves. God, in His mercy, will allow a less than comfortable wrench, like “metal on metal,” to be thrown into our lives in order to bring awareness to a deeper issue, a toxic thought or action that needs to be aired out. He allows us to smell the stench of our own selfish pride and arrogance, or to draw attention to how we’ve allowed fear and hurt to grow into something that keeps us from having the joyous life He longs for us to have.
We’re all in a constant need of transformation. The only way to hand God our not-so-clean self, is to remove our caps that appear so polished. Remember my black cap that gets bleached often? We must allow Him to scrub us, chisel if He must, so that we can truly be healthy, inside and out.
I did not want that job. It was gross and inconvenient, but it was necessary if I didn’t want the toxins to keep growing. If we ignore those hidden places, they will eventually make us (and those around us) sick. The only way to get healthy is to expose the yuck to the light. In the case of my garbage disposal, it was the light from the flashlight in my hand. In the case of our hearts, it is in the light of Christ’s truth that we can be thoroughly cleansed.
By the way, there was nothing down in my disposal. There wasn’t anything to cause such a racket. Miraculously, once I cleaned the stuff off those rubber seals, the other noise stopped. Sometimes it takes a scare, an unwanted interruption to our routine, and a major stink in order for us to truly be healthy – nontoxic.
At times, I can really stink! I can’t even stand to smell my own polluted self. Pride and insecurity reek, and there’s not a shower hot enough to rinse that disgusting odor away. Give me time. God is peeling away those toxic layers and marinating them in His cleansing light. In His mercy, He is scrubbing me (sometimes chiseling me) and washing away all of the yuck, so that the Shannan He created can shine – healthy – in His light.
Go ahead, reach your hands in and dig it all out. It’s going to be ok. God will help you and those who love you will be with you the whole time.
It’s a great day to release your stinky!
“All who do evil hate the light… But those who do what is right come to the light…” -John 3:20-21