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About the Writer:
Angela Nazworth

Angela is the mother of a four-year-spunky little girl and 1 year old boy. She and her husband Napp, a professor of political science, have been married for 8 ½ years and reside in South Carolina. A former award-winning public relations professional, Angela uses her writing as a ministry. In her blog, Becoming Me, she shares personal stories and insights about God’s working in her life.




Trash Day

Cleaning Up The Messes in Your Life--Even if You Didn't Make Them

By Angela Nazworth

Courtney’s least favorite day of the week was trash day. A tried and true pack rat, she waited until she heard the squawk of the garbage truck brakes before she hauled her refuse to the curb. The large black plastic bag stuffed into the coffee streaked ivory trash can overflowed with Little Debbie snack boxes, fruit peels, candy wrappers, Styrofoam take-out containers, and gobs of  UGO’s--  unidentified gooey objects.

She pulled the bag out of the trash can and schlepped it next to her refrigerator. Using her right hip to hold open the refrigerator door and her left arm to secure the monstrous bag of grime, Courtney added plastic containers of molded food and a carton of cracked eggs to the pile. With an empty box of cereal found lying on the floor between the refrigerator and the pantry, she smashed the garbage as far down in the bag as it would go and dragged the bag across the kitchen toward the back door. Before tying the bag she raced upstairs to grab the trash can from her bathroom not noticing the trail of tissues she created.

On her way back to the kitchen she grabbed a few old newspapers and magazines. Pushing the extra trash into the overstuffed bag, Courtney pulled the red handles as tight as she could and barely formed a knot. With both hands she tugged the strings, panting as she pulled the bag she now called "Jabba the Junk" closer to the door. The screech of the garbage truck alerted her that Steve, the truck’s driver, was next door. Leaving the bag behind she raced out screaming, "Steve, Steve, wait, I’m coming, I’m coming." Steve laughed patiently, "I’ll give you an extra 60 seconds today Mrs. Gunner, but then I best be going, there’s a big storm on its way and the wind is really picking up." "I'll be super quick, Steve. Promise.” The screen door slammed behind her and she made a second attempt to drag "Jabba" to the door.

As she dragged, Jabba spilt, first at the bottom, then at the sides until Courtney found herself in a double pile. One made of trash another from her own tears. Three houses down from Courtney’s home, Dana Kannon jogged into her living room, monitored her pulse, and gulped from her water bottle before sprinting upstairs for her morning shower. Dana’s trash bags, along with the two containers of recyclables, were taken out that morning before her daily run. Knowing that meteorologists forecasted wild weather, Dana made certain that her containers were secure. As soon as her fingers touched the white laced shower curtain, chill bumps raced up Dana’s arms.

The fierce gnarling wind rattled the windowpanes, and Dana’s sense of security. Suddenly, another sound swung her from a state of shakiness to one of quaking trepidation. Shattered glass. Dana couldn’t recall walking downstairs, but the scene that awaited her would be shackled to her consciousness. Garbage. A gargantuan pile of someone else’s rancid dross had been wind flung through a window and served on her Granadillo formal dining table. What was once pristine was now covered in filth.

Two women with differing personalities, philosophies, and habits with one stinking similarity, each owned a mess to clean up.   As I examine my life I can recall times when I was like the fictitious women in this story. Like Courtney there have been messes caused by my negligence, sins, and mistakes. The mirror of my past reflects broken relationships caused by insecurities, a mountain of debt resulting from overspending, and a marriage off to a rocky start. I’ve spent years hiding myself wreckage in a dark closet of blame and excuses.

There also have been times when I’ve been a Dana, living how I should be living, but blasted with another’s trash heap. Verbal attacks, betrayal, and deception have been hurled at me just like the bag of trash catapulted through Dana’s window. And I put those into a box labeled “victim” and hid them. Or, at least I tried to hide them. Where the trash came from makes little difference at clean up time. Refusing to clean up a mess that someone else made or started to make doesn’t hide the smell.

Stamping my feet and wailing, “it’s not fair,” may garner sympathy but it won’t rid the stain. There are lots of things I can do with a mess. I can analyze it, call an expert to examine it, investigate its origin, and give it a fancy name like “dysfunctional matter.”  I can even cleverly arrange a few pieces into abstract art. But, I absolutely cannot expunge it from my life unless I hold my nose, dig in, and toss away every last crumb. Even a morsel left behind will rot and mold causing a stench permeating through the soul. It takes more than a twitch of the nose and a bottle of bleach to cleanse life’s heavy-duty messes: a marriage marred by infidelity, a career desecrated by deceit, an innocent one shamed by scandal, and a family smudged by divorce.  

When overwhelmed by chaos, how can order be restored? It starts with a powerful cleansing agent. As a Christian I have been washed clean by the blood of Christ. He bore on His prefect frame every sin ever committed and ever to be committed from every Adam to the last human to draw his breath on planet earth. When we mess up or when someone else dumps a mess on our turf there is no cleansing agent more powerful than the truth of God’s word.

In Joshua 1:5 God promises “I will never leave you or forsake you.” I’m glad I don’t have to go about my cleaning by myself; because when I do take that approach I just end up making a bigger mess. Cleaning up with God isn’t exactly easy. He is thorough and the labor is exhausting but you better believe the job gets done right. When the smell of the trash makes my stomach queasy, my back ache from the toil, and my eyes sting from salty tears, my Prince of Peace is beside me each step of the way brushing back my hair, holding the trash bag, and whispering “draw closer sweet one, you can do this. With me, you will see the beauty underneath this garbage. I promise.”  

Some trash piles take longer to clean up than others. Many appear obliterated but small spores left behind fester and grow into a bigger mess. Sometimes it takes years before a mess is noticed or owned. Regardless the heap’s depth, stickiness, or odor, it is cleanable. And there is no scent more fragrant than the distilling love of Christ.

“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”  - I Corinthians 15:56-58.




Copyright © May 2008 – Angela Nazworth. All rights reserved.


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