Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A cup of clean.

“Why is this thing so stinkin’ heavy?” I ask myself this same question every couple of months. Some of you ask yourself this question as well. I have a handful of good friends that probably don’t, they are neat and orderly…not scattered like their good friend Ali. What was so stinkin’ heavy? My purse!!! Let me say that I do not “change” purses. Right before my second child was born, my mother-in-law and I ran all over town looking for the perfect backpack/diaper bag/purse. We found it, I love it. I have had another baby since then and this bag has held up beautifully. So, I took a minute to clean it out. The contents made me laugh and question my mental state…here are a few of my findings:
6 sanitary napkins (how long was I going to be gone???)
1 tampon
6 pens
3 pencils (2 unsharpened?)
3 grocery lists
3 tubes of lipstick
One bag of coins (must have been the end of the month and we raided the change)
A few invitations
Some phone numbers
Of course my wallet and checkbook filled with receipts that may or may or may not need to be recorded
The wipe case
The missing sippy cup
1 diaper
Random trash
Then at the bottom my fingers touched this green, I can’t even describe it, it was sort of like pencil eraser stuff. Sort of like powder. I’m not sure what it was! I had to take the entire thing outside to shake it. I then put the few things that did actually belong, back in and was quite satisfied that I had accomplished a task. (I'm sure that there were 10 things that went undone because of this!) As I put it back on my shoulder it still felt heavy, but I figured at least it was clean. I guess it’s just going to be heavy for awhile. Then I’ll purchase a ridiculously small, glittery bag that only my wallet and keys will fit into. That’s my plan. As usual…I considered some other things that needed to be cleaned out.

Lately I have been burdened by a lot of things. Life in general can often times feel burdensome. Not in a bad way, just busier than you’d like it and you don’t get to do everything you want to do. My husband and have had some really tough, but really good conversations, and I’ve been challenged in what are my responsibilities. What do I say “yes” to, and what do I avoid? Am I the only one? Well, I’ve been walking with the Lord for 11 years now and I know that when things get a little bit tough, I can expect some refinement. Let me say that I do welcome it. I do not wish to stay the same for the rest of my life! I started thinking of what it would be like if I could clean out my heart like I cleaned out my purse. Maybe it would be something like this…

Oh mercy, how long has this been in here? I thought I got rid of this bitterness a long time ago, now it opened up and leaked all over the inside of my heart. How am I going to get that out? Now look, hello issues from being a teenager. Seriously, I thought I disposed of that mess a long time ago. That garbage even smudged a few of my relationships as an adult. I suppose I can get rid of that now. Oh, look, what are these numbers? Those are the codes for the buttons that I can still push with my mom and husband. I wonder if I’ll need those again? Nah, I think it should be fine if I tossed them, well, maybe I’ll keep them. Nasty, what is this? Nice, it’s pride. It’s all over the bottom of my heart. The problem is that every time I move it gets all over the stuff that is supposed to be there. I’m just going to have to take everything out and take it outside and shake it. There, that’s better. Now to put all of the things back that actually belong in there…let’s see, commitment to my husband in good times and in bad, for richer for poorer (come on richer!); check. Compassion for those who are hurting; temporarily misplaced…will check on that.. Unconditional love for my children even when they show out in front of company; check. Unyielding and unwavering faith in the One who holds the universe in place…where did I put that? Oh, that’s just little; it won’t take up much room at all. Good thing it only has to be the size of a mustard seed. That ought to feel better, oh, still a little heavy, but at least it’s clean.

I’m so thankful that God refuses to leave us as “good enough.” The truth of the matter is that we are not capable of cleaning our own hearts. Left to our own devices, we would self-destruct. In college we sang a song based on Psalm 24:4. Some of the lyrics were, “Give us clean hands, give us pure hearts, let us not lift our hands to another (or maybe we said idol). Oh God let us be a generation that seeks, seeks your face Oh God of Jacob.” That is my cry. That God would give me clean hands and that I would have the energy and ability to destroy the idols that I worship on a daily basis. A verse that a wise woman passed on just a few minutes ago brought me to tears, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10. I must ask for a clean heart. I cannot will for my heart to be clean. I can’t serve my little heart out in hopes that my heart will be cleansed from my iniquity. There is no amount of “rightness” that can outdo my “wrongness.” Even if there were I think I’d be exhausted trying to make up for all of the times I have fallen short. The fact that I was born a sinner doesn’t make things that much easier, either! Isaiah tells us that our most righteous acts are like filthy rags. Outside of Jesus I am sunk! That is the bottom line. So, I’m going to ask God to do what I find impossible. I’m going to ask Him to change my heart. He’s done it before. I do want Him to do it again. My heart may still be heavy, but at least it will be clean.


Linda said...

My GOODNESS, Ali - you just pour out words and they flow so easily to fill a cup that quenches a thirsty soul. Your blog IS aptly named. I can't imagine how thirsty I have been for so long, not hearing the things you say.

Your analogy to a purse and a heart...WOW. Girl, you better be writing a book soon....

NOW I know where I'm coming to get devotionals to put into my MOPS newsletters next season. No need to search the internet...

Reading this reminds me of how much I miss hearing you talk...I can SEE and HEAR your enthusiasm bubbling to the surface...your absolute LOVE OF GOD.

boy, did I need this!

SB said...

Hello. I am here via Linda. She's right: you're a natural blogger.

I'll be adding you to my Bloglines.


Suzanne Moon said...

This is so awesome, Ali! I needed to hear this really bad and it was God's perfect timing.

Kim said...

Couldn't have said it better! Now I KNOW you're going to think I'm crazy, but this entry too is soooooooo scrapable! Wouldn't your kids love to read this years from now beside a picture of your cleaned out purse (ok...maybe not your sanitary napkins)? Complete with the scripture "Create in me a clean heart...." In fact, I think I'll use that idea if you don't mind. I love you, Ali. You have a gift with words.

Anonymous said...

Okay- this is my first blog comment ever and I cannot think of any blog more touching or real than yours Ali. You allow God to use you to write about things that reveal so many things in my own life that I've pushed to the bottom of my "to-do" list and always encourage me to seek my Father's word and time with Him.