I admit I create many piles in my house.
In my office, piles of papers from projects and “for future use” call out for attention.
Piles of mail clutter my counter space until I find time to sort through them.
In my closet sits a pile of clothes to be mended by me who feels awkward and inadequate with a needle and thread in hand.
Not long ago I visited with my brother, Bob, for quite a while on the telephone since he had plenty of free time as he recovered from total knee surgery. As we talked, I conquered piles in my home office. I felt exhilarated and free after I parted with item after item which in the past seemed vital, but on examination no longer held value to me.
As I thought of these piles recently, I remembered what I told some middle schoolers I mentor.
“Don’t let bitterness pile up in your life.”
These young people faced bullies, and we discussed ways to deal with them.
I noticed some tended to make piles of offences in their minds–memories of unkind acts by these foes. At times they communicated to me, “Let me recite to you what’s in my pile.”
Some proved to be ancient history as evidenced by the list beginning with, “Back in third grade…”
I discovered why some young people recover quickly from a bullies’ taunts and mean actions while others remain in torment, sometimes long after the bully or bullies move on to other victims.
The reason? Those piles!
Some forgave and moved on. Others clutched offenses and stacked them up.
For too long I practiced the destructive habit of piling up offenses in my mind. I wallowed in misery because of what people did to me. I repeated out loud their crimes against me with gusto. I sorted through them, rearranged piles, but I failed to get rid of them.
Along the way God showed me how to deal with these piles–through forgiveness, which came from Him and flowed through me to others.
I confess I slip back into the collection of piles. Not long ago in the prayer room at church, I reconstructed a pile of memories of Christians who should know better who hurt me over the years. None apologized for their actions. If only they would, I thought, then I could dismantle my pile. At the moment I realized Satan gladly helped me reconstruct those memories, even though I desired to forgive and even thought I had.
I needed to reject the resurrection of those rejections. So I went to the table where a bowl of water and a pile of thin strips of special paper presented themselves. I wrote the name of each person who came to mind and a short description of the offense. I placed the pile of papers one by one into the water, and watched them dissolve.
I thank God for this repentance bowl that our church provided.
I’ve done other symbolic actions to deal with my piles, but this proved to be my favorite.
We all hold to excuses for piles in our homes and in our minds, but after my instruction to these young people, and God’s reminders to me, my excuses ring hollow.
Ephesians 4:32 comes to mind as I contemplate the removal of all negative piles from my spiritual life.
“And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” NASB
What joy comes as I follow this instruction from the Lord.
I thank God that He does not hold on to piles. And for His help to deal with mine.