We live in close proximity to a dumpster. Actually, we live in close proximity to two dumpsters. Our commitment to a trash-free environment consists of the following steps. 1) Remove bag from trash can. 2) Walk bag 50 steps to dumpster. 3) Open lid, insert bag, close lid. 4) Turn around and walk 50 steps back to townhome. 4) Place new bag in trash can. All-in-all, it takes about 120 seconds.
It may seem simple, but this chore is fraught with deadly dangers and apparently unconquerable obstacles. Rather than risk tripping over a blade of grass, we pile on the trash like a game of Jenga. “Did it topple? No! Phfew, I don’t have to risk my life outsmarting the dumpster lid.”
But, when I head towards the kitchen, the Leaning Tower of Refuse mocks my peace of mind. “Just ignore it! Walk on the other side of the pathway! Don’t let the airstream as you walk past topple the precariously balancing milk jug or you’ll have to face the menacing fresh air on the walk to the dumpster!” What a silly thing.
“Instead of balancing that empty carton, why not just take the trash out?” I say to my husband. He’s much braver than me when it comes to stepping off that scary curb during on the journey to the dumpster. So as to not be hypocritical, I break down the box I’ve just emptied and stuff it down into the bin, far below the rim.
And so it goes until one of us breaks down and is willing to risk life and limb– for the other person, our future, our dog, to keep us rodent-free– and traverse the fateful trek to the dumpster. And when he or she returns, both rejoice and celebrate together! Hoorah! The pathway can be avoided for another indeterminate period of time! The evicted trash no longer haunts our dreams!
The pile of rubbish is replaced by a beautiful new, empty bag and I suddenly don’t think about trash again…until it reaches the rim of the trash can.
Sometimes, I realize my soul’s bin is overflowing–usually, when stuff starts tumbling off the top. “Where did that come from?” I wonder. And then, I realize I’ve stuffed so many things down that there’s nowhere left to stuff. I need to empty the soul trash.
Busyness Soul Trash
Sometimes my soul is cluttered by frivolous busyness trash. I rush through life validated by my state of busyness. Don’t you see how much I have to do? I am very important. I am so busy. I am also chaotic, run ragged, and grouchy, and not getting meaningful things done.
Sorting out sheer busyness from intentional purpose definitely fills up my soul trash can. Simplifying feels victorious! I love having a moment to be spontaneous, to breathe deeply…or to think about the things of God.
Idleness Soul Trash
Sometimes my soul is cluttered by idleness trash. Usually this happens when I haven’t emptied the busyness soul trash. I feel like I deserve a break…only I never stop taking that break. I don’t feel outright lazy, because my fingers are still engaged—perhaps while scrolling through social media for hours on end.
Idleness soul trash crowds out motivation and promptings. It spawns selfishness and pride because not only can a soul full of idleness soul trash not be bothered to think or look outwardly to help others, but it becomes aggressive and defensive about any request whatsoever.
Unresolved Emotional Trash
Sometimes my soul is cluttered by unresolved emotional trash. Surprisingly, sorting out misunderstandings, hurt feelings, or disagreements can happen relatively quickly! I used to just bury them deep in the bin where they festered and molded. Not pretty or healthy.
Anthony and I made a plan to never go to bed angry. That ended up being a no brainer because neither one of us can sleep when we’re upset, but we recognized the impact communicating-to-understand had on our marriage. Now, instead of even carrying the emotion around all day until evening, we’re getting better in the moment at just saying, hey, I have this feeling….
And if I feel someone withdrawing from me, it’s ultimately easier to just approach the situation right away instead of wondering and festering and nursing a grudge. Grudges definitely need to be tossed from souls.
Sometimes my soul is cluttered by sin. Aak. I make tons of mistakes—and typically the same ones repeatedly. The quicker I recognize a sin in my life, the easier it is to toss it out of my life. Some sins become habitual and it’s much harder to toss those out, but the Atonement makes it possible. Some sins require the Savior’s surgical skills to extract the sin from our souls. It’s painful and may require a lifetime of effort. But, Jesus promises that nothing is beyond His ability to reach.
Shoulda Coulda Woulda Trash
Sometimes my soul is cluttered by disappointments and what ifs. While repentance cleanses us, we still have to live with consequences of choices. Some consequences may not be from sin, but maybe from bad choices or extenuating circumstances. Life changes are made based on our best judgments and hopefully while conferring with the Lord. But sometimes those roads don’t lead where we expect.
Focusing on shoulda coulda wouldas of the past drains creativity and problem solving in the present and hope for the future. We miss positive opportunities. We can become bitter.
Take a look at those disappointments. What can you learn from them? How can the failure become a success? How can that weakness become a strength? Ask the Lord for help to see new possibilities and toss the rest.
Strip Yourself of Uncleanness
“Be wise in the days of your probation; strip yourselves of all uncleanness” aka, just empty the trash.
Aside from feeling free and liberated, the real reason to even worry about soul trash is because no unclean thing can dwell with God! Moses told the children of Israel, “For the Lord thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.”
God’s kingdom is a soul trash free zone. His works are endless and with purpose. Love, mercy, forgiveness, and righteous judgment define His relationships. He eternally conquered sin, doubt, and fear.
Emptying the soul trash makes room for better things, sanctification, grace, change. Alma asked his friends, “And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?” Have you? Have I?
Jesus said we should be like Him. As we’re willing to make room for Him by emptying our soul trash, He will teach us how to become one with Him and the Father. “Jesus…said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 64 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.