Update Your Image

The other day I was getting dressed and opened up my vanity drawer where my make-up is stored. I’m not sure what prompted my disgust. Maybe it was hunting through the ten brushes for the three that I wanted to use. Maybe it was because the drawer didn’t want to shut properly. Anyway, I began to wonder why I had so much stuff in that drawer. Did I really need all of this? A radical question came into my mind. “What if I threw away everything in there that I wasn’t actually using?”

Maybe you can’t relate to an over-stuffed make-up drawer. Then try junk drawer, office drawer, garage, or toolbox. Is there any place in your life that you have some extra stuff hanging around? Now I’m a fairly organized person. I try to keep up with things. But inevitably things accumulate that I know longer use. In examining why I didn’t get rid of a half-empty container that I hadn’t used for six months, I came to the conclusion that I was afraid I might want it in the future and then it wouldn’t be there any longer.

This whole scenario reminds me of the facades we wear in life--the persona that we present to the world. Just like the make-up that women put on their faces, we put on a face to the world—an image that we show others. There are many ways that we do this, through the way we dress, the car we drive, our body language, our words, and our actions. Sometimes we can wake up one day and discover that we have things hanging around in our lives that no longer suit us. We haven’t used them in months and it no longer reflects who we are. It is time to get rid of some stuff.

What prevents us from throwing out ideas and behaviors that no longer reflect who we really are? Oftentimes it is fear that keeps us holding on to the old tried and true ways. Everyone knows what we are like, or what we’ve told them we are like, and we don’t want to upset the apple cart. People can get upset when we change the script. They depend on us being who we’ve always been.

As you pursue a personal relationship with God, you will find yourself changing from the inside out. You will grow and become a bigger reflection of whom God made you to be. This is a good thing! But not everyone will rejoice in your new understanding of the world or of your budding awareness. Most people like to keep a drawer full of stuff that is never used but is very familiar. It is a radical thought to throw out all of the useless stuff. It generates a lot of fear.

It is remarkable how similar our feelings are towards our material stuff and towards our psychological and spiritual stuff. If you want to get a look at how well you accommodate and accept change, then see how well you handle the material things in your life. Are you able to sort through your stuff and distinguish what no longer serves you? Are you then able to do something about it? Can you give away still useful items to someone else who might need them? Can you toss into the garbage what has really just become trash?

These things are easier said than done. We develop emotional attachments to our stuff-- even the trash. The same is true with psychological stuff. We become attached to old ways of thinking, feeling, and doing and can fool ourselves into believing that there is nothing we can do about it. This in turn keeps us stuck in life. It is like that too-full make-up drawer that no longer wants to close. It becomes difficult to navigate in life when you are packing around too much stuff that needs to be thrown out.

In order to clear some stuff out of your life it becomes essential to look at what’s there and face the fears that keep you from doing anything about the things that need to go. So what’s the worst thing that could happen if I threw away something that I might need again? I might have to replace it--probably not all that earth shattering or budget breaking.

What if you give up an old way of thinking? You could probably come back to it at some point if you find you can’t live without it. In the meantime, you’ve just gained a whole lot more space to live your life. Maybe not a bad trade off after all.

Well, back to that make-up drawer. It now opens and closes easily. I only have the three brushes that I use every day—well, maybe there are four. Numerous items went into the trash. Some are in a basket to give away to my daughter since they are brand new, and a few are in a “wait and see file” in the closet. It is a pleasure to open that drawer.

In my spiritual life, I am constantly giving up old ways of thinking—feelings of unworthiness, victimization, and insecurities about the gifts that God has given me. They are really old, worn-out views of myself and I’m sending them to the garbage heap. It’s always a good day to update our image. A Beautiful Child of God sounds like a good one to me.