Getting Rid of Dysfunction
What is dysfunction?
In this series, we’re talking about dysfunction and how it affects our lives. When we have dysfunction from our family of origin, it causes us to be stuck. We exhibit behavior that isn’t honoring to God. In the book of Proverbs, the Bible puts it this way: “A wise person is hungry for truth, while the mocker feeds on trash.” Proverbs 15:14 TLB
When my wife and I first moved to the Dallas area, we rented a U-Haul to take all our stuff from our old house to our new location. When all the furniture and boxes had been loaded, all that was left was a few garbage bags of what I thought were clothes.
We arrived at our new home on Friday and didn’t begin to unload the truck until Monday. As it turned out, one of the bags contained the trash from a huge dinner we’d hosted to thank everyone for helping us move. As you can imagine, the smell of the garbage was enough to singe your nose hairs.
Why are we dysfunctional?
Trash stinks. It has an odor. It’s rotten. Fun fact: Did you know that Americans produce 4.3 pounds of trash a day?
The Bible says we have a fallen and fallible condition. We got it from our original family of origin, Adam and Eve. It could be that you are living in your own garbage dump.
Signs of dysfunction
Could it be that you have trash in your life? Maybe some character trash. Some stuff that’s stinking up your life. It could be pride, envy, or anger. How about gluttony, greed, or slothfulness? We generate character trash because we have this sinful nature.
In prior posts, we’ve talked about the baggage we carry around and how we may deny it’s there. We discussed the way we get stuck and the importance of curling your toes over the bow of the boat, jumping in the water, and finding those character stumps that can sink our boat if we’re not watching out for them.
How can I heal from dysfunction?
This next step is one of the most crucial. We need to regularly empty the trash. We have a tendency to build our lives around our dysfunction, our sin. As a believer, I have to be specific about the trash I’m dealing with.
For instance, let’s say anger is your issue. Rather than saying, “Lord, I get angry. I’m sorry for that. Forgive me, God.”
Instead, I challenge you to be specific. “Father, today I’m going to be in a meeting from 9:00 until 10:30 am. I’ll have a tendency to rage, to be defensive, to be arbitrary, to one-up people, to be mean-spirited, condescending, and just get angry. Over this time period, please give me your strength. I’ll rely on it. I can’t change, but your power will push me through.”
You’re prolific when you’re specific. That’s taking out the trash.
When we get specific about our trash, freedom happens. Because the thing that’s keeping you and me from the freedom that God wants for us is this trash. If you don’t deal with the trash, the issues, the sin, where will your life be in five years? It will stink like the garbage in the back of my U-Haul.
Letting go of our dysfunction
In the Bible, the disciple John tells the story of when Jesus went to this giant pool where all the crippled people went every day. Jesus sees a crippled man lying there on his mat, and he asks him, “Do you want to be healed?”
Why do you think Jesus asked this guy that question? I’ll tell you why. Because there’s a tendency in your life and mine to build our lives around our infirmity, to build our lives around our dysfunction. Maybe he liked that he didn’t have to get married. Maybe he liked that he could just barely survive. Maybe he liked that he could lie down by the Jacuzzi every day.
So I want to ask you the same question. Do you really want to take out the trash? Do you really want to change?
The first thing you have to say is, “God, I can’t change. I can’t.” Second, “You’re about change, God.” Third, “You have a purpose and a plan for my life, and today, God, I regularly want to take out the trash.”
5 ways to overcome dysfunctional behavior
- Tackle each character defect or each piece of trash one at a time.
- Focus on one victory at a time.
- Rely on God’s power, not your willpower. “For it is God who is at work within you, giving you the will and the power to achieve his purpose.” Philippians 2:13
- Associate with people who will help you, not hinder you. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man or woman sharpens another.”
- Pursue progress, not perfection.
Philippians 3:8 says, “Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage so that I can gain Christ.”
See, that’s the beautiful exchange. If you want to talk about recycling, here we give Jesus our trash. And man, I’ve got trash, and you have trash. Four pounds of trash—4.3 pounds of trash—per day, but I’ve got a lot worse trash in my life than that and so do you.
Regularly, as a believer, I’ve got to be specific about the trash I’m dealing with. Because remember, we’re going to be prolific when we’re specific.
“Lord, take my trash. Amen.”