Last Sunday was one of the worst days of my life.
I can say with very little Kent Brockman hyperbole that Sunday, February 14th will live forever on my top ten list of worst days ever.
I had a pastrami sandwich, ironically named “Ari’s Dilemma,” that just destroyed me. I woke up on Sunday morning and threw up about 10 times. That alone is unfortunate, but if I was at home, that wouldn’t be that big of an issue. I’d crawl back in bed and sleep the day away. If, I was at home.
Unfortunately, I was in Tampa, Florida, roughly 500 miles away from home.
So me, my wife, my 6 year old daughter L.E. and my four year old McRae piled into our car for what would turn into a bit of a death match up 75.
Every 45 minutes or so, while laying down on the third row seat, I would sit up, grab one of the kitchen trash bags my wife bought at a gas station and start throwing up. I don’t know how you do that, but when I throw up, it sounds like I am being murdered. It is a horrendously loud, full body experience.
And every time I did, my 6 year old would automatically burst into tears and release a blood curdling scream of “I hate this trip! I want to go home! Roll the window down!” But when my wife rolled the window down, my kitchen bag of vomit would flap in the wind, which is even less awesome than it sounds. My wife would then crank Ray Charles’ greatest hits as loud as it would go to drown out my daughter’s screaming and my vomiting. We’re all going to need therapy. Probably both group and individual if I had to guess.
The crazy thing is that during one of those moments, right in the middle of feeling like my ribs were going to explode from my torso, I thought to myself, “I wish I treated sin like my body treats puke.” That’s a crazy thought, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt like it was true.
You see, with throwing up, there’s no middle ground. There’s no casual element to throwing up. There’s no half heartedness to food poisoning. With a violence rarely exhibited, your body expels some toxin or wrongness from your stomach as fast as it can. There is little room for debate or discussion. It happens and it happens with a swiftness.
But when I try to turn away from the spiritual toxins in my life, I often approach them much differently. I sidle up to them. I spoon them a little. I debate back and forth about whether they’re really all that bad. I make excuses. I argue and ponder and stall and drag my feet. I don’t expel. I throw away and then return to the garbage to rescue hours later.
The best example is the one that’s had a choke hold on me for two decades, porn. As I’ve mentioned a bajillionity times before, that’s something I’ve struggled with since I was a kid. And with the Stuff Christians Like book coming out and the pressure to succeed creeping in, I feel the temptation of porn renewed. But to tell you the truth, I haven’t really done anything to expel it from my life. Unlike a body completely focused on rallying against the wrongness of a poisoned pastrami sandwich, I haven’t done anything. Ultimately, only God can heal wounds like porn, but I haven’t looked at my life for the broken windows that are allowing it to seep into my heart. I haven’t repaired fences or reached out to anyone.
So the other day, I decided to sign up for X3 online software from XXXchurch.com. In the past I’ve used Safe Eyes and Covenant Eyes (Why does everyone use eyes in their name?), but with a newish computer, I wanted to try something new. So a friend I trust and love is going to get a report of everything I look at online. It’s not a silver bullet. It won’t be magic, but I think it’s a step to throwing up a poison I clearly struggle with.
How about you? Is there a toxin you’re slow dancing with right now? Is there a poison you’ve let build a warm nest within your heart? If so, maybe today you need to throw up. Maybe today is a good day to vomit. (I think Joyce Meyer once ended one of her shows this exact same way.)
So what do you say, is there anything you want to throw up today?