Inside the junk drawer

Posted on Tuesday 23 May 2006

Most folks I know have a junk drawer, and I’m no different. The first drawer closest to the kitchen door is the one – and a not long ago, it refused to open. At first I ignored this inconvenience, but in a fairly short time I realized that although the contents of my junk drawer are a random assemblage of uncategorized “stuff”, I open it a lot. Because you never know. The odd thing I’m looking for just might be in there.

When the unavailable contents of my junk drawer began to really torment me, I stuck my head underneath the cabinet to see if I could fix the problem. The drawer had simply fallen off its “track,” and needed to be pulled out completely and set right. It took awhile, but I finally removed it.

When I did, I decided it would be a good time to take inventory of my junk. Everything was in full view with the drawer out – even the stuff at the back that I hadn’t seen in, well, years.

Stuff like an unopened deck of playing cards – cellophane wrapper still intact. A half-used roll of duct tape. A few petrified pieces of Halloween candy. My dog’s first tiny puppy collar, just big enough for my own wrist. A Polaroid photo of an old friend and me – taken in a living room I didn’t recognize. Three glue sticks, all half-used. Snippets of ribbon and two packages of dark brown shoe strings. (I don’t own any dark brown lace ups.)

Then it struck me what these random things had in common: I didn’t need any of them, but at some point, I couldn’t make myself throw them away.

My heart has a junk drawer, too. I wish it would get stuck more often.

I visit it when I’m looking for reasons why God shouldn’t love me. When I feel lonely or useless or discouraged. And I find odd pieces of my own history that shouldn’t matter anymore, but sometimes do – some of them far older than a few candy pieces gone bad.

Secret sins, confessed – forgiven – but not yet removed from inventory. Words I wish I’d never spoken. Words I wish I had. Failures. Lapses in kindness. Moments of misplaced shame. Old hurts I still pick the scabs from. Scars I like too much.

I don’t need any of it. God’s done with it. It’s long been forgiven, or redeemed, or transformed, but still I hold on. It’s junk. So the next time this invisible drawer gets stuck, I mean to let it stay that way. I can do without its contents, and its time I decided that I will.

“Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God – or rather are known by God – how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?” (Galatians 4:8-9, NIV)

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (II Corinthians 5:17, NIV)

© Leigh McLeroy, 2006

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