[notice]A fortnightly column on marriage, family and relationships.[/notice]
There is a concept; a process; a principle that we see in all of life; a process that is VITAL to the very existence of life. Without this process a living being finds itself/himself facing a crisis or even death. This principle and process is the process of letting go; getting rid of. Depending on the environment this process takes many forms and has many names but at the core it is the same principle. Whether it is a gardener calling it pruning; a cleaning company calling it de-cluttering; municipal workers calling it “picking up the garbage” or human beings knowing that it is something that we must all do—“visiting the restrooms” we have to all get rid and let go of the dirt; the waste that is no longer beneficial in our lives.
Some reality shows are based on this concept of going through someone’s dirty, messy house to produce a beautiful clean home afterwards or to have someone made over by showing her before and through a series of processes from doing their makeup and changing a few things in the wardrobe she or he will at the end of the show be a better version of how they came to the show. These shows take many forms whether it is about a hoarder who needs to get rid of so much stuff, whether it is a contestant who is nominated by relatives and friends to go on a makeover show. At the core the shows share one thing the people that are nominated have to let go of a particular lifestyle, habit or TOO MUCH STUFF.
There are many references in the Bible to letting go of things that are not necessary or beneficial to one’s growth. Jesus says in John 15:1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2″Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3″You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.…”
In a marriage it is necessary to do a lot of pruning now and again. In the course of a marriage there will be some things that are not beneficial to the marriage that necessitate a process of letting go. There are many bad habits that people have that should be let go of. There are many unkind, piercing reminders, whether spoken or alluded to that should be let go of.
As I was picking up my five year old son from school just a few days ago there was a fly — a very irritating fly in the car and he made mention that flies like “stinky stuff”. So I said: “Well it must get out of our car because we don’t have stinky stuff in this car.” Without missing a beat he said “All homes have stinky stuff because all homes have garbage bins.” That is so true!! It does not matter how clean the house looks on the outside; it does not matter how grand it looks; how beautiful it is on the outside. Whether it is modern or whether it is old. Whether it is a mansion or a shack EVERY HOME HAS STINKY STUFF BECAUSE EVERY HOUSE HAS GARBAGE BINS! If a municipal area is managed properly the garbage, the “stinky stuff” gets picked up once a week.
We have found ourselves as a neighbourhood with a potential crisis when our garbage is not picked up due to a municipal workers’ strike. The sight of many garbage bins outside people’s yards with flies around them, smells coming out of the bins become an unwelcome reality as people have to have other plans on how “they get rid of the waste”. Waste has to be taken away. As you and I know, taking this waste inside the home is not an option. In the rural areas where municipal services are not as efficient they dig a big hole and dump the rubbish there.
Many spouses have become dumping grounds for the messes that happen in their marriages. They have become dumping grounds for the stuff that we do not want to deal with in our marriages.
Instead of throwing away the stuff in garbage bins we throw them at the people that are precious to us. When we are supposed to throw away rubbish we take the stinky stuff that belongs in the garbage bin and we throw them at our spouse or families. Most of us love clean surroundings. We clean our houses every other day of the week to rid it of dust. We sweep and mop the floors. How about we do a de-cluttering, a sweeping, a mopping, a purging and a pruning of whatever is dirty and stinky in our relationships so we can enjoy a “clean relationship” that is a blessing to everyone who gets to experience it.
Some garbage we throw in garbage bins and we let them sit outside to wait for the day when they are taken by the municipality. If something that is even in the bin OUTSIDE has a very bad smell sometimes it makes its way to the house. Which wrong relationships are you letting linger around you? It might not be inside the marriage but it is just around you. You may say that “There is nothing going on between me and him/her” but the fact that they are always around you is affecting your family. The Bible says we must abstain from the appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22). What “hobby” or activity takes up too much of your time? You might say “It’s not like I am having an affair!” but your obsession with that hobby; taking money that should be used in the house for that hobby will affect your marriage.
You have to purge; you have to prune; you have to let go. That process is needed in an effectively run home or building. The dictionary description of the word to purge, “From the Latin purgare, meaning ‘purify’, purge is used as a verb for removing impure things, whether they’re guilty feelings in a person or rotten vegetables in a refrigerator. As a noun, the act of tossing out the too-small clothes in your closet before getting new ones might be called a purge. It can be a very bad act, too, as when individuals have an unhealthy urge to purge or empty their stomachs after eating or when a military group decides to purge a certain ethnic group from a country.”
If we are to grow in our relationships we have to get rid of destructive habits and ways. Even our bodies have a way; a system of getting rid of waste and if for some reason the body can’t let go of the waste we have to go to the doctor to be checked. The body must get rid of waste. It is a function of a healthy body; healthy life and a healthy principle that we should apply in our relationships.
Do a thorough check in your marriage. If there is any resolution to be made this year it is to get rid of anything that is not beneficial to the health and the growth of your marriage.
Below some of the arears that we should time and again do a reality check on:
- Our words: What are some of the things we say to our loved ones? Are they words that build and uplift or do we tear down with our words? Are our words kind and full of compassion and grace or are they missiles tearing down at the very fabric of those we profess to care about?
- Impatience: Not everyone in your home is going to think like you. Be more patient with your family members when they don’t do the things that you want exactly the way you want them to be done or in the time that it would take you to do them. BE PATIENT!
- Not being trusted. There are many things that one can do that may lead to her not being trusted. In this day and age “äffairs” come in many different forms. On social media your constant communication with a certain gentleman “friend” or lady on their inbox sharing private matters that should only be for your spouse’s ears can lead to an “emotional affair”. Whether you are with or away from your spouse be trustworthy!
- In Proverbs 21:19 the Bible says it is better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife. Can we adopt a spirit of thankfulness? I have found that those who are thankful or who live their life applying the value of thankfulness complain less and less as they realise that in the grand scheme of things what they are complaining about can easily be solved if they are willing to wait and work towards a solution.
- Prayerlessness: With the world that we live in where evil and moral decay resemble the days of Noah and Sodom and Gomorrah where life is not valued we need to keep our families up in prayer. We need to be praying for their protection. Our marriages are under constant spiritual attack and we need to lift up our spouses in prayer.
For you to grow; for your marriage and for your relationships to grow to another level of intimacy and health you have to get rid of waste. You have to get rid of the messy things that are in your life. You have to get rid of “stinky stuff” that are happening in your life. Stinky stuff that just linger in the home; that just linger in your life! Let your marriage bear fruit that will last. For any tree to grow it has to be pruned. The gardener chops off anything that will stunt the growth of the tree.