I don’t have to haul my trash to the curb like some folks do. Where I live, the city has strategically placed dumpsters in alleys and behind businesses. Since I live outside the city limit on a county highway, I’m not near an alley. I haul my trash to town and drop it in any available dumpster.
A few days ago, I sacked my trash and threw it in the trunk. It had snowed the day before, and when I pulled up to the dumpster I usually use, I discovered a considerable accumulation of snow. Since I was not wearing proper footwear to negotiate a pile of muddy snow, I sought a more accessible dumpster.
In the meantime, I ran a couple of errands. The next day, I purchased a few items at Wal-mart, located about twenty miles away. I opened the trunk wide to deposit my purchases, only to be confronted by that bag of trash I had completely forgotten to dump the day before.
I rapidly lowered the trunk lid and cast a glance toward surrounding cars in hopes no one had seen my bag of trash! I threw my items into the back seat and headed home, fully intending to dump that trash as soon as I arrived back in town.
However, somewhere along that twenty mile trip home, the trash was forgotten again and did not get deposited in a dumpster until the next day. Thank goodness the weather has stayed below freezing!
This incident reminds me of the trash we carry around in our lives, the not so pleasant things we sack up but don’t quite get rid of.
Some of it is harmless, like our hurt feelings when someone demonstrates unkind behavior or the embarrassment we experience on a bad hair day. These incidents are easy to dismiss and can be dumped from our memory anytime.
They serve as an annoyance, like junk mail, empty bottles, and plastic containers we encounter on a routine basis. They won’t really cause harm if not disposed of immediately.
Other trash is much more toxic. The deep-seated harboring of anger, resentment, and jealousy, when confined in the “trash bag” of our bad memories and left in the “trunk,” begins to grow and eventually affects the relationships in our lives. The garbage of those negative thoughts poisons our entire outlook on life.
When we open a refrigerator to find wilted vegetables, sour milk, and spoiled meat, our appetite is squashed. A selection of fresh fruit, bottles of sparkling water, and a variety of sandwich meats triggers our huger. Our emotional landscape can render the same result.
If we enter new situations full of moldy and sour thoughts, we deprive ourselves of a healthy relationship with our Creator and those who are an integral part of our lives. Filling our hearts with forgiveness, love, and understanding renders us a worthy servant of God and a source of encouragement to the other lives we touch.
Just like physical trash, when the temperature warm up, the stench of our emotional trash affects everyone around us. We can attempt to hide it, like I did that day in the Wal-mart parking lot, but if we fail to dispose of the unpleasant memories, outdated ideas, and hurtful experiences we accumulate over time, we find that every encounter is tainted with self-doubt, envy, and pessimism. Others shy away, because our attitude just plain stinks!
What emotional trash will you dispose of in 2017?