Columns share an author’s personal perspective.
Emotional healing can come from many places: prayer, meditation, Cherry Garcia ice cream by Ben & Jerry …
One of the most powerful sources is the feeling of having a clean slate.
That’s why The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, a book by Japanese cleanup guru Marie Kondo, has sold more than 8.5 million copies in 40 languages and is now a Netflix special.
Therefore, it feels good to confess in church.
That is why “Tomorrow is another day” is one of the most famous lines in film history.
It’s also why the Ohio Art Company made a fortune with the Etch A Sketch. As a mechanical drawing toy with a flat gray screen and a red plastic frame, you can draw something, then turn it upside down, shake it, and start over with a blank screen.
The lesson? No matter how much you screw it up, you can always start over. No wonder it’s one of the most popular toys of all time. It reminds us that we have the power to change.
That’s why we have to do a little bit of etch-a-sketching in life. Between soaring COVID numbers, government riots, difficult transitions and families not knowing how to feed their children, we could use a clean blackboard.
The good news is that an Etch A sketch isn’t the only mechanism that offers one. We have – in our collective possession – the strength that is needed for physical, emotional and mental regeneration.
For example, the mechanism of the human body is designed to regenerate naturally. Every time we take a breath and then exhale, we get a clean slate in our lungs. Each heartbeat gives us a clean slate of oxygenated blood that moves through our body and purifies it. Every moment we live, our cells are changing, regenerating, and growing, which gives us a cleaner state of health.
In addition to our human bodies, creation can offer us emotional renewal (if we take a moment to notice its lessons). Every morning, when the sun comes up, life begins anew – literally. Babies are born, oxygen is pumped back into the atmosphere from our forests, rain and sunlight bring growth. By nature, creation offers us the daily hope of a clean slate.
Perhaps the most powerful suggestion is on a spiritual level. The Bible is full of memories such as Psalm 51:10: “Make a pure heart in me, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit in me.”
And now let me say something that you’ve probably never heard of a Baptist minister: let’s look at pagan wisdom. The month of January is named in honor of Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and transitions, who is usually depicted with two faces – one looking to the past and one looking to the future. Janus is right – we have to consider both the past and the future to appreciate our course. However, at some point we need to let go of the past for the power of a clean slate to propel our future forward. It is like Marie Kondo’s philosophy of tidying up your house: if something is not fun, thank it for its service and let go of it.
Do you need a fresh start?
Do you want a do-over?
Are you longing for a second chance?
Take a look at the state of your physical, emotional, and spiritual home this week. If you don’t like what you see, shake it clean, look to the future, and start again. We all deserve a clean table. Just nibble on a little Cherry Garcia and watch the etch-a-sketching life.
Rev. Susan Sparks, a trial attorney turned stand-up comedian and Baptist minister, is the senior pastor of Madison Avenue Baptist Church in New York City. A nationally known speaker and preacher, she is the author of four books, including her new devotional book “Grace-Filled Gratitude: A 40-Day Joy Journal”, which is available on Amazon. Contact them at their email address [email protected] or their website at www.SusanSparks.com.