In 2014, Stephanie and I were presented with two treatment options to deal with her renal failure. After we chose home hemo-dialysis, there were some adjustments we had to make to our home to accommodate this new therapy. We had to create space for the supplies, choose a venue for the treatment, adapt our plumbing, and purchase a new recliner because Stephanie’s treatment would last about 4 hours 5 times a week, so it was important for her to be comfortable. We purchased an inexpensive “pleather” recliner from Walmart and had it delivered. It had to have an impervious surface due to the nature of the treatment.
After Stephanie passed away, the dialysis equipment and supplies were quickly removed, and I even retrofitted the plumbing in my bathroom, but the recliner remained in my bedroom. It became sort of a catch all in my room. It held the superfluous pillows that once were carefully placed on our bed each day and the casually removed at night, so we could go to bed. It also held the “throws” or smaller blankets that Steph liked to have cover her during treatment. And it held the various items of clothing whose future I was trying to determine: laundry or one more wear. (Hey, I’m a bachelor now – new laundry rules apply.)
My daughters would come home and see that the recliner was still in my room and would gently challenge me about it. Finally on Father’s Day weekend, they got a somewhat firmer with me, asking if I liked the recliner, was attached to it or saw a future for it in my house. I had to answer “no” to all of their inquiries. For them the recliner was associated with Stephanie’s illness, and its presence bothered them.
Out of deference to them I took the chair outside and put it near the curb with a sign that read “FREE”. Within a couple of hours that recliner found a new home, and my home was free of the last vestige of Stephanie's illness. It was good to have that chair gone from my house, and I admitted to my daughters that they were right. They have a greater sensitivity to space and objects than I do. It surprised me how much better the room felt without that recliner. It was as if I said my final goodbye to Stephanie’s illness.
In Ephesians 4:22-24 we read: You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
There was nothing intrinsically bad about the recliner. It was a necessary part of my caring for Stephanie, but it represented a difficult chapter in my life, and in order for me to enter my new life, I needed to get rid of it. In our spiritual lives, there are certain things that are detrimental to our growth, and it's important to eliminate them from our lives. We can all identify what those things are, but as long as we hold on to them, we’ll never be able to move on.
Hebrews 12:1 instructs us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles”, (so we can) “run with perseverance the race marked out for us”. I threw off that old recliner, so I could move forward in my healing journey, and it helped. What in your life do you need to throw off, so you can make progress in your spiritual journey? It’s a good question to regularly ponder and act on.