Our region of the country suffered the worst ice storm in years just last month. The disarmingly beautiful ice sheaths encased everything that stood still, creating a wonderland reminiscent of something created in the Disney studios.
Unfortunately, as we have learned anew and will not soon forget, ice is heavy, and trees and power lines are not meant to support that kind of weight. For days, crashes and cracks echoed through the air as trees, branches, and even power lines broke and fell to the ground. Thousands upon thousands of people lost electricity for days on end, and only once the ice melted could the full scope of the damage be seen.
That was a month ago, but storm damage remains. On the curb in front of houses and businesses everywhere in town, massive piles of sticks and branches await pickup by crews called in from all over the state to aid in the cleanup. The chorus of chain saws has faded, but now piles of firewood sit outside houses, waiting for someone to split them. Houses are largely invisible from the road, their owners having cut and hauled the detritus to a place where it will be out of their way.
As I drove through town the other day, that word – “detritus” – came to mind. No…..it’s not a word I usually use, nor it is one I ever thought I’d write about. But on that particular day, and in the days since, it seems a rather appropriate word for what has been happening around here.
People everywhere are dragging their old, unwanted, broken debris out to the road, where it sits in piles until someone – anyone – will come take it away. The salvageable wood has been taken out, and all that remains is wreckage. Garbage. Useless scraps.
The storm both caused new damage, it seems, and brought to light the fact that routine cleansing needed to be done. Dead limbs….rotted trees….broken fences. It’s all brought out into the open, and there it sits until it is finally hauled away.
Watching people haul it to the road, you can almost hear their frustration as they pile it on: “Please. Somebody. Take it. I’m DONE. I don’t want to deal with this any more. I don’t want to look at it another day. Get it out of here.”
And I think I can hear very much the same cries ringing out around the internet, as people from around the country are hauling their own wreckage to the road, laying it where everyone can see it, and saying, “Here it is. I’m done with it. Just take it.”
The Love Idol Movement is making waves in social media, but more importantly, it is making waves in lives. Real lives, like mine and yours and your friend from car line. Women (and yes, a few men) have been rooting through the proverbial storm damage of their lives, identifying the things that are dead and broken, and pulling out the things that just cannot remain any longer. It’s a good thing to do periodically, and the introspective season of Lent is a good opportunity. In this season and the weeks leading up to the book, Love Idol: Letting Go of Your Need for Approval and Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes , by Jennifer Dukes Lee, we are launching a full-on assault on the idols in our lives that have sought and earned our affections.
And friends, lives are really being changed because of it. Here, in this space, I’ve seen it happening. And deep in a place I can’t see with my eyes, I feel it happening to me. My posts lately have been pretty monopolized by my own journey of casting down my love idol, and I feel – at times – that I am eclipsed by my own detritus I’ve hauled out into the open. Everyone can see it now, and while I continue to work through it, it sits in a heap at the forefront of my life. (And yes, because it is something so personal that has been made so very public, the enemy has played on my weaknesses and self-consciousness, making me wonder if maybe this whole thing has been a mistake because, well, now what are you all going to think of me???)
But the promise is still there, friends. The promise that when we haul that stuff out, it’ll get taken away. Though it may feel like it, the limbs and branches won’t sit on the side of the road forever. And though it may seem that way, my own wreckage won’t be an issue forever. God is working through it, smashing down the things that I simply don’t need any more. Even more importantly, though, He is salvaging from what is left. If scraps of wood can be used for kindling a fire, these scraps of idols and heartache can be used to kindle something that burns brighter than I’ve ever seen before.
He’s pulling out things I have long since forgotten about and using them for powerful redemption stories. He’s shining light on things I didn’t know were there and making sense of what used to be a jumbled mess. He’s gently sorting through the weakened places in my heart, removing the things that have caused pain and ultimately making those places stronger.
These things don’t happen overnight, though. This kind of cleanup takes time. Homeowners here were promised weeks ago that their limbs would be hauled away, and now, because they’ve sat for so long, dead grass is being uncovered as it is finally taken away. And those trees that remain? They don’t look the same, and they probably won’t for a very long time, if ever. And for my own wreckage removal, I don’t expect God to work on my time table. I don’t expect that come Easter morning, when I pull out items of clothing I haven’t worn in weeks, the issue of seeking approval through my clothing will be completely resolved. As these things tend to do, they’ll likely come back for a visit now and then in the future.
We can’t very well prepare for the destruction of an ice storm. Trees and branches and power lines will fall. The next time my spirit feels stormy and old, familiar detritus shows itself, though, I’ll be ready. The next time, I’ll remember. The next time, I’ll be fully prepared and I’ll know just what needs to be done.