About ten days ago I was on my way to clean a house when my friend, El, from Running for Hell with El called me. As we chatted, I told her that I felt blocked in some way, but I just could not put my finger on what it was, or how to clear it. She agreed with me, saying that she had sensed the same thing in me and she told me when she had been there herself she wrote her way through it. We ended the conversation and I went in to do my cleaning. I know the family that I was cleaning for very well and was happy to see their grandson there. He has been very good to us over the past year.
I was downstairs dusting when something hit me out of the blue and caused me to pause in my tracks. You see, in my lovely screened porch at home I had a huge pile of trash that had overtaken the porch. Back when I could not drive, it was impossible to get to the dump, and when someone dropped over it seemed less than hospitable to say, “Thank you for dropping by. Would you mind taking a bag or two of trash with you when you go?” Many people had offered to help me, but those offers kept falling flat with no results, so I became afraid to ask for help and went into paralysis mode. My molehill of literal garbage had grown into a mountain and I had no idea what to do with it all. I hid it. I walked past it as quickly as possible. I stopped cleaning out my refrigerator because I did not want to add to the pile.
It was avoidance of the highest degree. I was afraid to ask for help because I had needed to ask for help so many times the previous year that I did not want to feel like a burden again. Yet, no one had ever told me I was a burden… They had been telling me that they missed that time we had together with them shuttling me around. Suddenly, as if I had been overtaken by some other force, I bolted up the stairs, sat down at the table with the grandson and blurted out, “Matt, I need help!” I explained my situation, and his grandmother waved us off in his truck after we had grabbed some black garbage bags and work gloves.
Getting the garbage bagged up and into the truck was messy, smelly, business. It was all in kitchen trash bags, but things had started to get into the bags. Some bags leaked all over us and clear through our work gloves. I picked up one leaky bag that had a stench that could only be one thing. I tried to assure Matt that we do not throw out our own bodily waste, but the smell was unmistakable. As Matt kept telling me he had seen, and cleaned up much bigger messes, I thought back and realized that while our cat had not used the litter box in over six months, at some point I did have to clean her litter box regularly. Bingo on the smell, and damn to the dawning of just how long I had been hiding from my garbage all because I did not want to ask for help yet again. As we prepared to leave for the dump, I ran inside and gutted the contents of my refrigerator, and grabbed clean clothes and shoes. We took my trash to the dump, and back at grandma’s house, I changed my clothes and washed my other clothes and shoes while I finished cleaning her house. I already felt so much lighter and while I knew I had a big clean up job once I got to my own home, I was excited!
Once home, I munged out the porch area, which was no easy task, but it was fully cleaned, floor washed and all, by the time my son got home from school. He was happy to see the change. I then embarked on the refrigerator clean up, which was relatively quick and easy, then I washed that floor. After my son left to go with his father that evening, I took the most blissful shower, knowing that I was actually filthy for a change. It felt so good. I made dinner and celebrated by dancing in my porch that night and sitting out there and looking at the stars. I went to bed truly exhausted and sore, but happy…really happy.
The next day, as I was driving along I found myself doing something I had not done in some time. I was noticing the beauty all around me, and proclaiming it out loud to myself. I passed a few trees starting to turn for fall–“Oh, those are so beautiful,” I exclaimed out loud. As I passed this or that I kept hearing myself commenting out loud. “Oh, I just love that!” popped out, and “That is so neat.” On it went as I drove back home. The block was gone and what was being blocked by my mountain of garbage and my fear of asking for help was my true and natural ability to appreciate all of the beauty in life. Let’s face it, who would not be blocked in some way by a mountain of garbage they were pretending did not exist, yet we do it all of the time. Be it literal garbage, or the metaphorical garbage that we let pile up in our lives, most of us do it.
We hold onto the past far too long. We nurture anger, hurts, grudges, and tolerate bad behavior in others far after those emotions and people have anything to offer us. We get so stuck and so blocked by all of the garbage we carry around inside of ourselves that we find it impossible to move forward in any meaningful way. We feel tired all of the time, stressed, unhappy, and we stop seeing the beauty all around us because our view is so tainted by the garbage we are working so hard to ignore. Trust me, it takes a lot of work to ignore garbage, be it literal, or metaphorical. It can suck the life right out of us, but we avoid it, and we are afraid to ask for help to get rid of it because we do not want to be seen as weak, or less than perfect, or we do not want to burden anyone, or a combo platter of the three.
Yet, we were created to be relational beings. We were created to help each other, and we were created to make mistakes and have emotions that we need to share with others so that we can fully get rid of them. I know how much of a blessing it is to me when I can help someone for no reason other than to help them. I had forgotten what a blessing others get by being asked to help. Whenever we fail to ask for help in getting rid of our garbage we are withholding the chance for another to bless us. That other person could be a friend, a clergyman, or a counselor. It makes no difference what their title is, or their role in your life. If you are avoiding a mountain of garbage that is obscuring your view of the all of the beautiful things in life, ask someone for help. Life is simply too absolutely gorgeous to waste a minute more trying to hide from your garbage. Take a chance. Be bold. Be a blessing and bless someone else. Ask for help and take out the trash. Whatever you have allowed to become a mountain is water under the bridge but it continues to block your view. Get rid of it. The view on the other side of the mountain is magnificent!