On the farm we learned to drive in the fields before we could drive on the road. In my case that led to overconfidence and poor judgment.Once, before I was old enough to drive I decided that it was foolish to ride my bike to the store when momma‘s car was parked in the garage. I didn‘t realize how much harder driving on a road would be, until I buried momma‘s car in a canal. I tirelessly worked pulling her car out of the canal with a tractor, then washing, waxing and cleaning it so that no evidence of my wrongdoing remained. Hours later, I left for ball practice with my friends confident that my parents would never know.
That was the worst practice I ever had. I couldn‘t remember the plays, keep my hands on the ball or even make decent blocks. I lost my starting position that day because I couldn‘t stop obsessing about keeping my secret. I returned home just in time for dinner. I found an extra helping of my favorite meal in front of my seat. I choked on every bite. My stomach was in knots wondering if they knew. Finally, I looked up and said, “Daddy, I wrecked momma‘s car today while you were gone.” “Really?” he said. “Why can‘t we tell?” When I had confessed the whole scene I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders. It didn‘t matter what my punishment was going to be. It would never be worse than the heavy conscience I had before.
In the fifth chapter of Matthew, Jesus speaks about un-resolved feelings and issues that damage our relationships. He says, “This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.” His point is simply that it is difficult move forward with our lives (physical or spiritual) until we have made peace with others for our actions and theirs. The feelings of fear, anger, guilt and resentment will consume our hearts and minds leaving little of us to enjoy God and the joy of life around us.
I still remember my father nearly laughing as he said, “I wondered how long it would take you to tell us. We already knew.” Often times we create more problems by ignoring life‘s issues. It would be helpful to remember that we will not be free to enjoy this journey until we‘ve unpacked our dirty laundry from the last one.