I have a cranky bathtub. Seriously. The silly thing drives me crazy. My tub is sluggish, and it has a mind of its own. You see, about every eight months, it decides to clog. I can always tell the warning signs. When I shower, rather than disappearing, the water starts backing up. Days later, water is covering my toes. By the time the water level is up to my ankles, I know I have to do something.
Normally, a sluggish tub wouldn’t present a problem. All that’s needed to fix it is a chemical drain cleaner, right? Wrong. I have Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, and I can’t use most chemicals—including drain cleaner. That means when the tub decides to go on strike, I have to get down on my knees and use a plunger.
I don’t really care for plungers. They aren’t exactly my favorite invention. They aren’t particularly thrilling or exciting to use, and I always end up getting splashed. I don’t approve of being splashed. I think it’s nasty.
The other day, I was down on my knees plunging my tub. It went something like this: plunge, plunge, plunge, plunge, plunge, plunge—wipe sweat from brow—plunge, plunge, plunge, plunge, plunge—notice there isn’t any change in water level—plunge, plunge, plunge…
After about ten minutes of steady work, I decided to remove my mind from the boring task and turn philosophical. I wasn’t sure if any wonderful, spiritual lesson could be gleaned from a clogged tub and a plunger, but I was determined to find one.
Plunge, plunge, plunge, plunge, plunge—I thought about salvation. I couldn’t find a connection…
Plunge, plunge, plunge, plunge, plunge—I thought about worship, but it didn’t seem to fit…
Plunge, plunge, plunge, plunge, plunge—water splashed my face—I thought about my wet head.
Friends, you will be happy to know that there IS a spiritual lesson that can be gleaned from a cranky bathtub and a plunger. As I wiped water from my eyes, I realized that my brain is like my bathtub. Most of the time, the day’s events swirl down the drain and disappear, but every once in a while, something happens that sticks in my mind. An unkind word. A strange glance. A slighting gesture. When those things happen, if I’m not careful, they don’t disappear right away, and soon my mind is totally focused on hurtful things. When that happens, trouble always follows.
Jesus said in Luke 17:1 that opportunities to be offended are always going to come. In fact, Jesus said it was IMPOSSIBLE for offence not to come.
Proverbs 19:11 says, “A wise man restrains his anger and OVERLOOKS insults. This is to his credit.”
Sometimes, I tend to be like a dog with a bone when something hurtful happens. I gnaw on it. I refuse to let it go. I analyze it. I try to figure out why it happened. I try to figure out what I could have done to prevent it. I try to figure out who was at fault. I try to figure out if I said the right thing. I try to come up with the brilliant things I SHOULD have said. Sometimes, I do everything but the things I’ve been instructed to do. The Bible says I should OVERLOOK the hurtful event and FORGET it. In essence, I should let the offense swirl down the drain and out of my mind.
There was a time in my life when I was a very bitter person. I could remember every hurtful thing that was ever said to me–and I could remember those hurtful things in crystal clear detail. Soon, my angry, bitter thoughts started playing over and over in my mind. They were what I thought about before I went to sleep. They were what I thought about when I got up. They were what I thought about when I was washing the dishes or folding the clothes. My angry, bitter thoughts squeezed out any pleasant thoughts that tried to take root.
Was I happy living that way???
Are you kidding? I was miserable. Deep down, I knew that harboring grudges and holding onto hurtful memories was wrong, but I didn’t know what to do about it. I tried to justify my grudges by saying it was the other person’s fault—but I knew that wasn’t true. The other person wasn’t in control of my brain—I was. I was responsible for my own thoughts and attitudes.
Finally, I couldn’t stand the YUCK of my own mind. I knew I had to change my thinking. With God’s help, I began mentally singing a hymn every time a hurtful memory rose up to haunt me. I had to do it EVERY SINGLE TIME. I didn’t give myself any wiggle room. I did not allow any pity parties. I prayed every day for God to help me. I made cleaning up my mind a priority. It was incredibly hard, but after a year, hymns were playing in my mind rather than bitter thoughts.
Deliverance isn’t always easy or instantaneous. Deliverance sometimes takes hard work and determination.
I’ve been down the “Bitterness Road,” and I hate where it leads. It may seem harmless to rehash a hurtful conversation—it may seem okay to analyze a painful memory—but I’ve learned that it is incredibly dangerous. When rehashing becomes a habit, it always ends in slavery.
Ephesians 4:26-27 says, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil.”
I’ve learned that anger turns into poison after twenty-four hours. I don’t like poison. I try to avoid it. I definitely don’t play around with it or ingest it. After winning my freedom from bitterness, I try very hard to let hurtful things go as quickly as possible. I’ve learned that waiting for apologies is a waste of time—so is rehashing hurtful events. I’m so glad that God helped me use the “holy hymn plunger” to clear away my bitterness. I still try to sing hymns every day. I think of it as “preventative” spiritual warfare.
You know what? I wonder if preventative plunging would work on my tub? Maybe I should start plunging my bathtub once a month. Two minutes of monthly plunging would certainly be easier than an hour of extreme effort every eight months. Prevention. Instant action. Yes. That’s the key.