Saturday, July 19, 2008

Cleaning out the Fridge

Yep, I did it. One of the hottest, most humid days so far this summer, and I cleaned out the refrigerator. It's a little embarrassing, but I can't seem to get to those out-of-the-ordinary-routine type jobs nearly as often as I should. I usually think of them when I am in the throes of some other, more immediate task, when I can't really stop and take care of other things. And so I really cleaned out the fridge -- shelves out, throw away anything remotely questionable, scrub the whole beastie inside and out. The subtitle of this blog is "a journal of God's grace in a mom's world." It could only be grace that allowed me to see myself in the sticky, cluttered mess that was my refrigerator, and lead me to better understanding as it was transformed into a clean, shiny, and fresh-smelling chill-chest (props to Alton B.!).

A refrigerator serves a specific purpose. It keeps stuff cold. That capability may be applied for a family's groceries, an office staff's lunches, beverages, or fishing bait. There's virtually no limit to the applications, but the essential function is always the same. We also serve a specific purpose. The Life of Man is to know the only true God and to know Jesus Christ whom he has sent (Jn. 17:3). We come forth by His will, and we return to Him in His time. There are innumerable variations in just how we accomplish this, but the essential function is always the same.

A refrigerator isn't nearly as effective if it's not clean. Sticky stuff on the shelves or pooled in the bottom make it less efficient. Too much stuff in the doors or stuff not put in neatly will keep it from closing correctly, or block vents it needs to move and cool the air inside it. Dust on the coils can really cause can shorten the life of the fridge, burning out the motor before its time. And in this knowledge (bandied about with the Aquinas and Chesterton I had been reading), I came to better understanding of what sin does in the life of a Christian.

When I lose my temper, speak unkindly or disrespectfully, let my thoughts wander where they shouldn't (this list could get really long), it gums up the works. It puts stuff between me and the performance of my essential function. When I neglect my spiritual needs and put other, more immediate (read "noisy") issues ahead of time to pray, time to read scripture, time to stop and see God's hand in my life, it gets my vents and coils dusty. I can't breathe; I'm likely to burn out.

Sad but true, this little metaphor goes even further. My refrigerator has humidity adjustment for each of the crisper drawers, and it has removable shelves on the door. I broke one of the shelves, because it was sticky and I couldn't remember how it was supposed to come out, and I don't have a foggy clue which vegetables like what level of humidity, so I'm not using that feature to its potential. But I'm not using all of my features to their potential, either. I get a little roughed up emotionally when I try to muscle things in the direction I think they go, rather than easing them in the direction they actually go. A little time devoted to learning something new, and I could bring a little finesse to the way I do my job.

I have to admit, I was a bit grumpy while I was cleaning the fridge, muttering about the pickle juice that had dripped down the back and the sticky iced tea that had spilled when the jar leaked. I knew darn well that the job would have been easier if I hadn't put it off. I also knew that I could have put it off longer, but that would just complicate things further, and that my much-needed (and appreciated) icebox would keep plugging faithfully, but at a diminished capacity, eventually burning out and becoming useless.

I have to admit, I'm a bit grumpy taking stock of the dust and sticky stuff I've let into my life. I know darn well that the job would be easier if I weren't so attached to my pride. I also know that I could put it off longer, but that would just complicate things further, and my commitment to my faith would keep plugging along, but at a diminished capacity, eventually burning out and rendering me useless.

Then someone put an open can of soda in my nice, clean, fridge. It spilled.

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