Clean, Baby, Clean — September 23, 2011



Cars are lucky. Even if we become busy or too lazy to wash them, God sends the rain to help out. We, on the other hand, don’t sit in parking lots all night waiting to be cleansed. We hide away inside, both physically and  emotionally, to disguise our dusty and dirty parts. So unless we purpose to “get clean” we just shuffle our dirt around like used furniture, trying to make it seem artful instead of cluttered. It’s our problem.  And once you accumulate enough trash in your home, it’s no longer really a house, now, is it? It’s just an indoor dumpster.

Here’s the problem:  because religion, politics and corporations do not accept the fact that humans are emotional creatures, most people’s feelings are toted to the back of the basement or stuck in the attic. We assume that once we set these feelings aside, they won’t bother us anymore. But instead, they continue to call out for resolution while we pursue our spiritual journey if we’re religious, our mental journey if we aren’t, and our physical journey if we’re young enough to still believe that we can be active.

But the heart is the center of it all. It is out of the abundance of that heart that we speak; it is where we keep our treasure. It is where we evoke the passion to either do or deny the need to perform. So if it’s not clean and it gets gummed up by doubt, dismay and disgust, we start becoming nasty to those around us, eventually finding ourselves quite alone, feeling even further rejection and becoming emotionally distraught.

So what’s the answer? If we haven’t been dealing with life as “daily bread,” and instead, have been hoarding our manna–only to have it turn into “stinky worms”–what can we do now? Can I give you a simple solution? I know sometimes I may frustrate theologians and even those who believe themselves to be intellectual, by how I break things down into tiny nibbles instead of full-course meals, but I’m not so sure that life is a banquet. I think it’s more “snack and run.” You pick a little up as you go and use the energy from that experience to get you through the next endeavor. If you wait for the five-course meal before you sit down and eat, you probably will finish your soup–but end up nuts. Here’s what I suggest for those of you who really want to get back onto the daily bread of emotionally dealing with your life in a twenty-four-hour period. Are you ready?

If I can, I will.  If I can’t, I won’t.

You only have to make ONE decision.  Can I or can’t I?  Please stop participating in the foolishness of thinking that you should be trying to do things you can’t. I don’t care whether you’re afraid, intimidated or even defeated by it. If you have discovered you can’t do something, don’t frustrate yourself by continuing to attempt to pursue it out of some sense of stubbornness.  It is not only aggravating; it is debilitating to the human emotions–to always fall short of your aspirations.  If you want to live a clean life, just simply look at the situation set before you in the day and ask yourself, “Can I do this? Can I address this? Can I be part of this? Can I start this, not finish it and still feel okay about myself? Can I be proud of this when I’m done?”

If the answer to those questions is yes, then jump in. But if the answer to those questions is no, or “I’m not sure,” step away. You are not responsible to solve all of life’s problems–just the little boxful that’s handed to you. The reason that worry enters the human experience is that we start lamenting things we can’t do and try to figure out a way to overcome our lack.

People often ask me, “Do you worry about your children?”  No.  Do you know why? Because everything I could do with these young men–all seven of them–I have already accomplished.  What I can’t do is follow them around to make sure they follow my philosophy exactly as I wish they would. So what I can do, I do.  And what I can’t, I don’t. This alleviates the need to be overly involved because I’ve already assessed my responsibility in the situation.

It is the practical application of Jesus’ telling us to “count the cost.” You will not be good at it at first. Here’s why: we have been taught that worry has a function, and that the function is simple: it supposedly shows that we care. But honestly, we know that we care when we do what we can, walk away from what we can’t and put it into the hands of those who can, or if nobody is available, in the mighty mitts of God. You will not live a clean, emotional life until you are able to find what you can do and do it–and discover what you can’t do, and avoid it.

But what are you supposed to do when these unaccomplished tasks taunt you? What should you feel when worry tries to seep into the corners of your spirit and mind? This is where the doctrine of good cheer comes in.  It is just as easy to laugh at worry as it is to participate in it. For verily, verily, I say unto you, I am hilariously incompetent.  Now, not in everything; I do have gifts. But the things I can’t do are so obvious that if I were to attempt them, the hilarity that would follow should make the entire planet chuckle in joy. So for me it’s easy to be of good cheer when I feel that incompetence creeping in. I will not allow my insufficiency to taunt me into believing that I should try stupid things.

Today is sufficient. I don’t need anymore. And if you want to be clean, you must learn to find what you can do and do it.  Discover what you can’t do and avoid it. And then develop a sense of good cheer over your shortcomings. You will discover at the end of the day that problems that seemed to be insurmountable and beyond the scope of your talent can be handled by other folks–if you aren’t bungling them yourself.

One of my most effective weapons in aiding the planet earth is being able to turn to my friends and say, “I don’t have any idea on that subject.” Without this admission, they do not feel they can intervene for fear of interfering. But once they know I have laid the ball down, they feel the freedom to come and dribble.

If I can, I will. If I can’t, I won’t.

Isn’t that simple? Is it so simple that you won’t try it because it does not possess the complexity of moving parts that we normally equate with great intelligence? Or are you like me–tired of contrived answers that don’t have the quality of human ease?

  • Live in the twenty-four-hour period.
  • Use your daily emotional bread and set it aside when it’s over.
  • Don’t let the stinky worms of doubt, dismay and disgust wiggle their way in.
  • And finally, get clean, baby, clean. If you can, then you will. If you can’t, then you won’t.

Here’s to cleanness–because the only people who actually get to see God … are the pure in heart.

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