Removing the Messy Plate

Have you ever tried to clean up a toddler after dinner? I have a little practice here. The other night I made lasagna. As dinner ended, I began to clean up my 1 ½ year-old daughter. I wiped her face, then her left hand. As I went to her right hand, she stuck her left hand right back into the plate that was still covered in sauce. I moved the plate out of her reach, then cleaned her hands-AGAIN.

You would think that by baby #5 I would have learned this lesson.  I can’t clean my child up while the mess is right there for her to play in. But I haven’t.

The same is true in my own life. I can’t clean up my life while holding onto a “messy plate” … a guilty pleasure… a secret sin…

Drama… that’s my not-so-secret guilty pleasure… gossip… drama… it sucks me in… like a bad soap opera… I can’t take my eyes off it. I want to know all the juicy details. I want to know who said what, and everyone’s side as to the details.

This was the first of many areas that God wanted to clean up in me. This was blatantly obvious once I had started my REAL walk with Christ. (Yes- I had a fake one.) God could not clean this area up while I was holding onto all the drama I allowed in my life.

God had impressed upon me the need to cut out television. This was just for a season, but it was absolutely needed. I needed that time I was spending engrossed in reruns of television shows to embrace quiet… to quiet myself down…to open up His Word… to change my entertainment focus to books and music that would improve my relationship with Christ.

Once I was able to take that step back from the loudness of television drama, I was able move forward and clean up that area.  (Please know I am not telling you to cut out television. This is something personal each person must decide for him/herself. My husband never had the conviction to turn off the TV, and it has not negatively affected him. But for me, it was absolutely needed.)

I like to look at this as God removing the plate from in front of me so that I wouldn’t keep sticking my hand back in it. Now it was time to clean up the mess. For far too long in my life I preferred the noise, but the noise was getting in the way of my peace. It was letting in conflict and unnecessary drama. I used to think that there was this secret conversation that was being unsaid, so I tried to dissect conversations. I tried to read between the line. By doing this, I was creating more drama. But more importantly it was preventing me from being present.

As I have learned to embrace quiet, it has actually improved my relationships.  I have learned, that most people do not need me to interject into their stories, conversations, or problems. Most people say what they mean, and there’s no “between the lines” needed to be read. Most people just want to share their experience. Most people want to be heard. When I can quiet myself, without adding my own thoughts to a situation, I can be a better wife, mom, sister, and friend.  And then there’s also much less drama.

This is not an area I have fully perfected.  I need help from the Holy Spirit. I can still get sucked into Facebook drama. I can still listen a little too intently when someone shares gossip with me. But I am growing in this area. I am learning to take time away from Facebook when my attention is in the wrong spots. I am learning to redirect conversations that are centered around talking poorly of others.  I’m learning to walk away when I cannot change it. I’m learning that my words have power and using that power to build people up is far better than stirring up conflict.  I’m learning to follow the little nudge at my heart. It is a process.

Words have power… so do carefully chosen words… and so do words not spoken. I had to realize- life is not about me. Life is about glorify God. I can do that when I use my words to build His kingdom rather than trying to “one-up” the next girl or bring her down by spreading gossip. We are all in this life together AND ladies- we are not each other’s enemies. We need to stand together and fight the true enemy. Satan wants us keeping our eyes on the noise, the drama, and the gossip. Because then our eyes are not on God. If we are not building God’s kingdom, we are building our own kingdom here on Earth.

As I am typing this, the TobyMac song “Speak Life” is ringing through my ears. If you don’t know this song, you should definitely do a Youtube search and watch the music video. It is powerful! Words have the power to breathe life into someone or steal their joy. I will strive to choose life and love by using my words to build His kingdom and show love!

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Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)

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