Saturday, August 25, 2012

Head Trash

A few months ago we signed up for Netflix and have been enjoying it immensely. For only $7.99 a month we have unlimited access to all their on-line titles through the Internet. Through their simple “point and click” approach, we can watch thousands of movies and TV shows with ease. It’s great to get on the Internet, request a show and boom, you’re watching it. There more than enough for us to choose from; we especially like the TV classics (Monk, Magnum PI, Star Trek) British TV (Downton Abbey, Doc Martin) and movies (Shakespeare in Love, An American President) just to name a few.

In order to use Netflix you need a device to receive and share the show with your TV. I had an old, out of date laptop in my office that seemed perfect for the task. It was a good idea that I had written down the ID’s and passwords when I put the laptop on the shelf because I can’t remember the last time that I used it. So I got the laptop out, literally dusted it off and started on a journey towards easy, unlimited video entertainment all for $7.99 a month (or so I thought).

Do you remember how slow PC’s used to be; well this one was from the pre-Mesozoic ice age. It took more than 27 minutes to initially turn it on, download, install and reboot to apply a ton of software updates. After rebooting yet again, the desktop eventually appeared so I could launch a browser. The Netflix web site appeared, the laptop was excruciatingly slow, taking another 4 minutes just to load the landing page. Not exactly warp speed.

In case you didn’t know, my education and employment have always involved computer technology. I really enjoy having the latest “bleeding edge” technology, warts and all, cracks and all, lock-ups and all. I’ve always been an early adopter; I was one of the first people in the insurance industry to use e-mail, networks and traveled with a “portable” PC – it didn’t have a disk drive and weighed in at 30 pounds (no wonder my right arm is 3½ inches longer than my left).

My life and office are filled with technology;
  • a world-class desktop computer with 2 extremely large monitors, high quality mic/stereo speakers and video conferencing
  • state-of-the-art laptop with 3 oversized monitors, video conferencing, high quality mic/stereo speakers including high-end audio and video studio software
  • Latest iPad with apps galore, both cell and wireless networking
  • Latest Android smartphone with every conceivable option and app

So, as you can imagine from this list of tech tools, this Neanderthal laptop with Cro-Magnon performance was really bugging me. The other night, I just could not take it any longer so I broke down and gave it a tune-up. Just like you put a car up on a lift for a tune-up, I put the laptop on my lap and went to work.

For this tune-up I deleted all unused and unnecessary software, which required 7 system reboots and took about two hours. I then cleaned the startup folder, all pointless data and temporary files; another hour. The final 3 hours were spent defragged the disk. After one final reboot, I was ready to restart the laptop and take it around the block for a spin, seeing what kind of performance we would get.

While the machine is not on par with my new laptop, speed and overall performance was much, much better. It’s now about 2 minutes from the time I press the power-on button to Netflix launching, and this includes the disk security and encryption program. Not bad.

But unlike the car tune-up that requires parts and dirty hands, this tune-up only required software utilities, time and clean hands (which is good for me because I’m a bit of a clean freak. Mary Ann once asked me to go for a walk in the woods but I hesitated because it would get the bottoms of my shoes dirty).

It’s amazing when you get rid of all the unnecessary “stuff” on your computer how much better it runs. And the same can be said about our lives. We all have “head trash” filled with bad memories, questions, insecurity, guilt and shame. We were not built to carry the weight of this internal trouble; it slows us down, weighs us down and shuts us down.

It doesn’t take a deep look inside to see and feel the “head trash” and pain that most people experience in this life. I was talking with a friend the other day and he told me about a painful and broken relationship that was fueled by broken promises. He tried to keep his promise to love and provide, but he continually gets kicked in the teeth emotionally. And the awful tragedy is that he feels guilty not for what he does but for what is being done to him.

Growing up, I first thought that the only way to resolve this “head trash” was to be smart and perfect. So I made it my business to know everything, telling everyone in the process how smart and right I was (a.k.a. how stupid and wrong they were). Needless to say I had loads of friends…NOT! I then started to drift into self-medicating myself to ease the pain. These worked for a while, but not long enough. Coming to the end of my rope I found that there was only one conclusion – I could not fix myself. I needed someone to take me in, clean me up and start emptying my “head trash.” And that person is Jesus Christ.

I see Jesus leaving the comfort and safety of smug religious leaders and hanging out with people who, like me, were on the outside. They needed relief and Jesus came to help, heal and save. When asked why he hung out with those rejected by society, Jesus said “I desire mercy, not sacrifice, I came not to call the righteous, but sinners[1].”

When Jesus says “righteous” he’s referring to all who arrogantly think they are self-sufficient, able to fix themselves, keeping themselves clean, doing the right things, checking off all the right boxes. Maybe this definition really resonates, a stark reminder of our pride and who we are in ourselves.

So, when our “head trash” starts to overtake us, we need to take it to Jesus. He doesn’t just “empty” us; he cleans and fills us with new thinking and power to live for him. Now that’s real trash removal and salvation.

Blessings – Chet

Chet Gladkowski writes and speaks on practical topics that touch culture, life and faith.

[1] Matthew 9:13 - email, Facebook & Twitter - blog
GladAssociates - YouTube

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