Max Lucado in his book Just Like Jesus originally describes our troubles as trash. Unwanted garbage comes our way and we are handed a bag of trash. The first thing the world wants us to do is to hide it. Because the world, the culture has taught us that it is bad to not be okay, it is bad to struggle, it is bad to be vulnerable. You put the trash bag under your coat or under your skirt; of course this won’t fool anyone. Nevertheless, we trick ourselves into thinking it will because we aren’t all that different from the little kid that thinks that if he only covers his eyes no one will see him. Soon the hidden trash bag will start to smell; soon family troubles will start to show up at work. However others are too polite to say anything, that it’s ‘none of their business’. Therefore this isn’t just about the ones who hide their trash, but also about the ones who don’t say anything. Someone to talk to, a sympathetic shoulder to cry on, a note of encouragement, a prayer can be the help that someone needs to face their struggles. Caring enough to listen and act can be the stepping stone for a person to start on the road to recovery and stop being resigned to “soul sickness”.
Instead of hiding their trash, others paint the garbage bag green and pretend it is a beautiful tree. They tell their neighbors how gorgeous the tree/garbage is and how blessed they are. They water the ‘tree’ to keep up appearances and to have the luxury of sorrow. They look at the tree everyday and replay over and over the heartache. You look at old pictures of a time that will never be again, you look at the empty crib, you look at the foreclosure papers again and again. You indulge in the sweet self-torture called, What If? Because the garbage hasn’t been resolved only painted. Those memories, those longings, those bills, will catch up with you, and your beautiful tree made of a painted trash bag will start to reek. No matter how good it might feel to paint your garbage or to replay the heartache, there is no closure.
Others don’t hide or paint their trash but openly show it, but don’t want anyone to do anything about it. They go around and complain, but when help is offered, they refuse, still having that strength and ‘do it yourself’ mentality. However to have maturity and well-rounded strength you need to address and realize your problems and be willing to do something about it.
We may look at our trash bag and ask why God hasn’t lightened our load, why He hasn’t done anything. The answer may be that we don’t want him to. Because the pain of abuse is easier than the difficulty of forgiving the one who wronged you. Because the broken memories are easier than the difficulty forming new ones. God won’t fix what we hide, what we paint, what we complain about, or more importantly what we hide from; not because He doesn’t have the power, but because He is respecting our wishes.