I have been thinking about this metaphor of “taking out the trash” from the Barbie and Ken series. If you missed part two of the series, it is a pretty simple idea. Ryan dispelled the myth that when you get married your significant other will suddenly change for the better. Instead he contended that “Preparation Trumps Promises” and discussed “taking out the trash” in our lives before the right person comes along.
It is a pretty profound thing for us to unpack. Many students, myself included, were really challenged to focus on “becoming the right person not finding the right person”. When I think about addressing sticky issues like, debt, unresolved family issues and addictions in our lives, I think of something more strenuous than taking out the trash. When you take out the trash you just make a concerted effort to get rid of it and then drop in on the street corner. The truth is, changing those spending habits, healing from family of origin issues, or recovering from that addiction or idol in your life will not be resolved so quickly.
So what are we to do? How do we tackle these issues if we have resolved to change? Here are some reflections on taking out the trash that I hope will be hopeful or encouraging:
It’s like taking out the trash and pulling up weeds.
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.
Romans 7:18 (ESV)
Ryan is fond of saying that the life of faith is a process and not a pill. But sometimes it is reassuring to hear it again. That we are not alone in struggling to change. Taking out the trash is a great analogy, and I want to propose another that might help: making these changes to become the right person is also like pulling up weeds. Weeds often pop back up time and time again. Which is a lot like our sin issues. What’s more when you go to pull up a weed sometimes you realize that it is a lot more then you bargained for. Often there are a whole network of roots hidden below the surface that you could not see. When you go to dig out the weeds addictions and habits, to pull out destructive surface emotions, or to yank out misplaced identity be prepared for deeper issues to surface and take those to God. Know that sanctification is a process and not a pill. And that is okay. The important thing is to keep pulling.
Taking out the trash is about the little things.
One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.
Luke 16:10 (ESV)
When we are in our seats moved by sermon or out of them responding to an altar call, it is easy to envision what taking out the trash will look like. Often a montage flashes through our heads of becoming the right person. The problem with these idyllic, sepia-toned images is not that we cannot change, but that change rarely consists of the grand gestures we envision. Making lasting changes to become the right person requires small, consistent disciplines and yielding the little things to God.
Taking out the trash is a lot harder alone.
Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.
Proverbs 13:20 (ESV)
In the book of Proverbs, Solomon also says that “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” In the series Ryan discussed forming a “board of directors” with “experts in different fields”. If you are going to tackle the thorny issues of taking out the trash you will absolutely need to consult with wise individuals who have been down the road you are on and can help you in ways to take out the trash. Getting serious about becoming the right person will absolutely be impossible without acknowledging that you need help and need to do life with other believers. Get a mentor, get plugged into accountability and get in community. Because taking out the trash is much easier with a team.
Taking out the trash is only possible with Christ.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV)
As difficult as it is to “pull out the weeds” or to “take out the trash” in our lives, it is possible through Jesus’ resurrection. I am always challenged by what he says in Luke 18, that what is “impossible with man is possible with God.” He desires for us to lay these things down and not of our own strength, but by the power of the Holy Spirit it is possible. We can only take out the trash when we understand that taking out the trash cannot come from us or from a desire to be in a relationship with the right person but from a proper understanding of the gospel.
Author: Marshall Sandoval