After moving to Grand Junction Colorado this last year, I began working as a chimney sweep. Since then, I have cleaned quite a few chimneys. And you may find this surprising, but cleaning chimneys has been an enlightening experience.
A chimney allows us to burn a fire indoors without smoking ourselves out. If we want to enjoy the blessings of a heated home, then we must make sure that our chimneys are cleaned and inspected regularly. And cleaning chimneys–just in case you didn’t know–is a dirty job. If you are going to clean a chimney you are going to get your hands–and likely the rest of you–very dirty.
Every stove and chimney presents a different problem to solve to get it clean, though the tools used to solve each one will be the same. With a little bit of ingenuity and work, a chimney sweep cleans out any blockages that have developed or may be developing in your chimney. And by the end of the day, a chimney sweep is covered with soot. He is dirty, yet happy. He’s spent his day opening up the channels that will allow others to enjoy the blessings of a heated home.
In our lives, however, no one can do the ‘dirty work’ for us.
If we want to experience the blessings of success, love, health, peace, and happiness in our lives, then we need to get our hands dirty as well. We have to put ourselves to work.
So what is life’s ‘dirty work’? And how will ‘getting our hands dirty’ bring us what we want?
Life’s ‘dirty work’ is whatever work is required of you from moment to moment. ‘Getting our hands dirty’ could mean doing things that are uncomfortable for us–things that will involve changing what we do and how we do it. It could require us to improvise on the fly. We must learn to work through all of the ‘dirt’ and discomfort if we want to have the blessings that result.
This ‘dirty work’ will keep us all in physical, mental, emotional or spiritual motion. Someone once said that “he who rolls up his sleeves and goes to work is seldom without a shirt.” I’ve always loved that saying.
Are you willing to ‘get your hands dirty’? Are you willing to roll up your sleeves and go to work?
Here are five areas of life which should be routinely evaluated to make sure that no ‘plugs’ developing, but that everything is ‘clean’ and running properly. This list can help all of us determine what we need to ‘get our hands dirty’ working on. Regularly evaluating each of these areas will assure that the channels remain open, so that the blessings we seek flow into our lives.
1. Career: If you want to be successful in your career, you can’t sit back in your chair and expect the world to come to you. You have to get out there and knock on doors, shake hands, make sales, crunch numbers, develop software, and do whatever else your career of choice entails. In short, you’ll have to work. Success only comes with work, and the amount you achieve will be proportionate to how willing you are to get your hands dirty.
2. Family: If you want to have a happy family and be a part of loving relationships, you will definitely have to get your hands dirty. A happy family takes time and communication to build. It requires making regular time to play, snuggle, and talk amidst the other demands of each day. You will need to play with your kids–run in the mud and rain, tickle them, wrestle with them, throw a ball–garden together, and read books. You will need to roll up your sleeves and raise your children instead of just letting a screen do it for you.
3. Health: If you want to be healthy, you can’t just sit in front of a screen or buy a gym pass. You’ll have to stop buying prepackaged food or frozen dinners. Being healthy requires more than just thinking about it or wanting it. If you want to be healthy, you’ll have to sweat. You’ll have to change the way you shop and eat. You’ll have to pick up the weights, run the miles, and do the sit-ups. You’ll have to crack eggs, measure ingredients, cut vegetables, and wash dishes.
4. Spirituality: If you want to experience and possess the deep peace that comes from spirituality, you must make the time to meditate, ponder, read, study, pray, and journal. You will have to get down on your knees, wherever you may find yourself, and take the time required to develop a relationship with your Creator. You will have to think about the things that you learn from Him and from the sacred texts you read.
5. Community: If you want to experience the satisfaction and happiness that comes from being part of a community, you must take care of your neighbors. You must serve others. Being part of a community will only happen as you apply yourself, pay attention, and get your hands dirty helping those who surround you. You must be willing to help the elderly cross the street, do yard work, shovel snow, play with and tend children in the neighborhood, vote, buy from local businesses, and keep an eye out for your neighbors’ needs.
So, are you willing to ‘get your hands dirty’? Are you willing to roll up your sleeves and put yourself to work? What will you do to ‘get your hands dirty’ today?