March 10, 2015: Do You Need a Junk Drawer?

Posted on : Mar 10th, 2015 | By | Category: Still Speaking

Lent is a time to spiritually clean out the old and make space for the new.

I’ve noticed in my life, it is very difficult to “clean out the old.” Stuff has a way of accumulating and taking over all my space. Cleaning it out takes time; more time actually than it took to pile the junk in the first place.

However, the reality is that there are limits as to how much junk we can accumulate. If we hang on to too much stuff, we soon run out of room. If we want space to live, sometimes we have to make that space. We have to clean out the old to make room for the new.

Same thing happens to us spiritually. How much of your faith is old stuff? Stuff you’ve carried around for years that you should have let go of – dumped – years ago? Old hurts, insecurities, childhood teachings about who God is and how God is present in our lives; teachings that are no longer relevant or healthy? When is the last time you made room in your head or heart for a new word from God? As we say in the UCC, “God is still speaking.”

This past week I was having a conversation with a younger colleague. He was depressed and feeling burned out.   He felt his ministry was not very effective in actually changing people’s lives. I shared with him that I’ve spent a lifetime trying to get people to dump bad religion, bad theology (beliefs about God), and bad understandings of the Bible; and it’s never gotten any easier. Not one bit.

The vast majority of us Christians still believe in a violent, vengeful, punishing God. We believe we are more sinful than good. We believe we are more judged than loved, more put down than raised up. All of which is bad theology which came right out of the middle ages (roughly 476 A.D. to the 1500’s).

I agree with Donna Schaper in her meditation below. We all need a junk drawer – a spiritual junk drawer – where we dump all our old stuff – at least temporarily. Then, when the drawer is full, it’s time to dump it completely and start filling it up again.   The only way new beliefs about God, ourselves, the value of our lives as the beloved ones created in God’s image – the only way these new beliefs are going to become real in our lives, is by first junking the old destructive ones. If you’re not ready to give them up completely, stick them in a junk drawer – so you at least have room to begin thinking about and believing something new and good about God and yourself.

We are now at the half-way point in our journey through the Season of Lent. If you haven’t started cleaning out old worth-less theology (theology that says you are worth less than you are), bad religion (religion that is abusive, self-deprecating, shaming) or reading the bible in such a way that it allows God to speak to you with words and insights that are relevant to your life today, now’s a great time to begin. Need more encouragement? Read on.

Lenten Blessings,






Do You Need a Junk Drawer?
Donna Schaper

“Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days.”   – Jonah 1:17

I have never been in the belly of a whale but I have often felt enclosed, eaten up, devoured with a lot of no exit sign kind of feelings. They happen in mundane ways, even though there is nothing mundane about the way most of us live in a time-famine. That time-famine is a combination of over-stimulation, stupid economies that cause commuting on behalf of real estate, dumbed down work on behalf of other people’s profits each joined by the way we can’t imagine how not to participate in them.

My time management consultant told me I needed a junk drawer, a place to put everything that I didn’t know what to do about. I wanted to tell her that I’d need a half dozen drawers, not just one. Then I realized she was pushing me to focus on what was really important. Again, the road to the important is paved with detours. All that being said, I have decided to try softer not harder to find the still life. I know there is a picture above my desk that has a lovely still life in it. Mine is an unstill life. Perhaps a junk drawer is my way out of the belly of the whale. That way I’d have more time to imagine a different, more humane economy. Strikes me as important, right?

O God, when we feel devoured by detail, give us a new thought and let us put all the old ones in the junk drawer.


Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Her latest book is Grace at Table: Small Spiritual Solutions to Large Material Problems.

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