Cleaning Up My Act

Earlier this year, my friend Ms. Katy published a series of blog posts that caused me to take a long look at myself. They caused me to look at where I‘m at in my life from lots of different perspectives. My spiritual life takes precedence, followed by my family life. Then work, writing, social media, and other aspects of life fall into place as needed. One thing this self-assessment period did was, to my astonishment; show me how different I’ve become. There have been many changes in my life since retiring. Most for the better.

One thing that hasn’t changed is, I am still a “Hoarder of Things.” In some universe or language, I’m sure J.D. translates as “Saver of all things.” I’m also certain I could find the envelope containing my sideburns from my first haircut when inducted into the Army (don’t judge, it was the 70s). I remember the barber at Fort Jackson, SC asking “You want them sideburns boy?” “Yessir” I replied; he handed them to me in an envelope.

As part of this self-assessment, the Holy Spirit guided me to ask “How can I show God’s light in my life to the world wearing those t-shirts?” I decided it was time to attack my “Good t-shirt” drawer. Doesn’t everyone have printed t-shirts you save for special occasions versus the ones you wear every day? As my life has changed, I’m convicted some of my cherished t-shirts (such as If I’m Talking, You Should be Taking Notes) have got to go. Now some I don’t fit into anymore. Others, just send a confusing message to people I meet.

So, the purge began. As I unloaded the drawer onto our bed, it surprised me how memories for almost each one came flooding back. I remember being in Savannah at a conference with my friend Ms. Barb, whom I was grooming as my replacement. We had such a laugh at that saying. I remember my friend Gary giving me the t-shirt reminding me how I was once a sniper in the military; one who exhibited great shooting skill back then.

With each shirt I placed into the “donate pile” I sent with it two things. A prayer of thanks to God for changing me from the person I was, and a prayer for the recipient. I pray God blesses them with this provision. Throwing them away was considered, but it seemed wasteful. I thought perhaps another person will look at that old t-shirt and receive the same blessing as when I rid myself of that part of my history.

I call these witty sayings and put downs a part of my history for good reason. We should not forget our history. I don’t live in it or dwell on it, but remembering who I was helps me see who God has made me. We all need a baseline to measure our growth from. I expect God will continue growing and grooming me until the end of the age, as His word promises. Part of that growth is my exhibiting it in this world around me.

I’m not a sandwich board on the street corner with a “Repent” sign in my hand kind of guy. Instead, I pray God uses me each day to show His light in this fallen world. It might be in something I write or speak, or maybe just a smile or act of kindness towards another. However God guides me in serving Him, I try to accept His urging without question or hesitation.

I realize I can no longer wear a t-shirt emblazoned with “Did you have a bowl of STUPID for breakfast?” If I do, I send a confusing message to the person I am trying to witness to.

What message do you project to the world? Click To Tweet

I’m certain I’ll still ask “Whaddya think Sparky?” more than I should. And am just as certain I’ll mutter the phrase “I-D-10-T” or “YCFS” as I walk away shaking my head. In time, I trust God will guide me to leave these in my past as well. I pray you seek His guidance in what needs cleaning up in your life.

God’s blessings…

22 thoughts on “Cleaning Up My Act

    1. Thank you Ms. Candyce. I’m glad I made you think. Pleased if I was able to bring a smile or a chuckle; that’s joy in life. Thank you so much for reading and commenting ma’am. Much appreciated!

  1. I enjoy your messages J.D. I always find myself pausing and thinking about life. Yes, I am reflecting on the message I want to project to the world. I pray God will give me the words He wants me to share in my writing.

    1. You are so kind Ms. Melissa. I pray that same prayer ma’am; both for me and for you and my other writing friends. Mrs. Audrey Frank coined a term I’ve come to love. She said “… We are writers of light… ” What a great way to think of ourselves as we endeavor to show God’s light in this world my friend. God’s blessings.

  2. J.D.—Oh, boy! This one really spoke to me. It’s been only a few short years since our youngest child moved out of our home. We are left with a large house with “almost” empty bedrooms. The kids took what they wanted and needed, but left their discards. My husband and I have yet to begin the downsizing project. Needless to say, your post was not only inspiring but probably the much-needed kick in the pants we need to get started.

    I love your prayer over the “donated” items. I will use this as we begin the cleaning/purging process.

    Thanks!

    1. Thank You Ms. Beckie. It’s difficult to “let go” sometimes, that’s for sure. I must tell you though, reliving the memories as I sorted through my good t-shirts sure did bring back some wonderful times. For me, they were mostly good memories, but I was amazed to look at myself from long ago and compare to where I am (in Christ) today. Sometimes it’s hard to believe I’m the same guy. Then again, none of us ever are. God’s blessings ma’am.

  3. I love that you prayed over the items that you planned to donate. What an awesome thing to do! I’m going to remember that the next time I purge my drawers and closet. I can manage to get rid of old clothes fairly often, it’s the sentimental stuff that I hoard (kinda like your sideburns story). But, the deeper message is most relevant–What are those bad habits that I’m hoarding that interfere with me being a witness for Jesus. Time for self-examination!

    1. Thank you Ms. Katherine. My wife and I seem to make about three trips per year to church-sponsored centers that make gently used clothing available when needed. Late last year, I finally decided to give up forty years worth of business suits. Have a few (black, gray, and couple of sport coats), but I just don’t need them here on the ranch. 🙂 As for the sideburns, I have to wonder if my friend Mr. Pasour sported a set of “pork chops” too back in the day. Have a blessed week my friend.

  4. Love the idea of thanking God for growing me up as I let go of things from my past. And also, I can remember without holding on to those things. Great post.

    1. Maturing, or growing up, in Christ is a lifelong process I think Ms. Patty. Am sure grateful we serve such a patient God. I agree; it’s good to remember, yet we can still let go of our past. Thank you for your insightful comments ma’am. I love it when my readers add value like you just did. 🙂

  5. Loved this, JD. Praise God that I can look back too and see God’s process of transformation in my life. Oh, where would we be without him? I shudder to think.

    I can so relate to messages on T shirts being a strong witness for good and bad. As believers we need to be sensitive. What the world views as funny and harmless can send a wrong or mixed message. When my daughter was younger, someone gave her a T-shirt that read, “It’s all about me so get over it.” Needless to say, I never let her wear it, but I have used it for good many times while leading Bible studies or at speaking opportunities.

    Thanks again for the reminder that unspoken words often generate the most noise.

    1. What a great idea Ms. Starr! I never thought of how I might use one as a teaching/training aid. Thank you so much for the wonderful concept ma’am. Visuals only reinforce our message. You’re right; it’s amazing to look back and see how far we’ve come in Christ. For me, I find strength and encouragement to take the next step in my journey. God’s blessings ma’am.

  6. Oh man, you’ve hit me where I live. I struggle with an unhealthy and emotional attachment to things. I know this is an area God is calling me to surrender to him, but I find it so difficult. I found your post to be encouraging and I love the idea of praying over an item before you let it go. Thank you for posting this.

    1. I hear ya Pastor Joshua. It was a bitter pill to swallow but I’m glad I finally did. I think this has been on my mind for a while because all my shirts like that were the ones at the bottom of the drawer. Sometimes it takes us a while to act on what we’re hearing in our hearts, but we do.

    1. Thanks Ms. Loretta. I’m not sure if I grabbed conviction or it grabbed me ma’am, but am learning the “heed the call” my friend. Thank you so much and God’s blessings. By the way, you know I’m a rancher right? I grab things by the horns every day. 🙂 Your words brought a wonderful moment of joy! Thank you!

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