When we bought a house in Arizona, we inherited a well-used ugly old-style carpet, the kind that crumbs and little beads like to hide in and sharp objects disappear into, waiting to take their vengeance. My husband had placed a few rugs in strategic places before I arrived, to dress it up and hide a couple old stains. For a long time I didn’t even notice all the flaws, because the color wasn’t bad and went with the walls, and I had been living in a church parsonage basement for a couple years. And it was nice to actually have a carpet.
But as months went by and comments went on (especially from our daughter and husband in promotion of the beauty of hard-wood flooring) — I began more and more to see that oversized rug called a carpet for what it was … an ill-shaped, outdated contraption of yarn, hiding who knows what from its former days. And meeting up with the tiled kitchen and hallway at an odd juncture, then sweeping back alongside and behind the living room couch, it shaped the living room into a big square attached to a short-changed rectangle.
One day I took a peek under the carpet at a corner spot where it meets the tile. I found an old, unraveling pad still trying its best to cover various strips and pieces of wood tacked down in an effort to raise the carpet’s elevation toward the tiles. And with hand parked firmly under that loose piece of carpet, I was ready to rip up the whole thing right then and there from that spot.
I didn’t care what sort of mess or strange articles I would find uncovered. But my husband, looking on in horror, said “NO”. You can’t do anything about it until we are ready to deal first with what’s underneath.
We couldn’t dig up and replace that exterior covering until we had something ready to replace it with. But as things have been going, who knows what — or WHEN that might be? So I continue to vacuum that carpet, and to pick up those rugs and scrub those spots and stains. And guess what? They all come back, up through the carpet from underneath … right in that same spot.
But I guess that’s the nature of a stained carpet.
So what can I do? Throwing a rug over the top of those stains and flaws will do no more than cover them up — make things look better on the outside — but won’t get at the root of the problem. And to put a rug over the more-traveled places won’t improve the appearance of the matted-down carpet underneath. Yes, you can’t just sweep everything under the rug and pretend the carpet is fine.
And it’s the same with us human beings.
Like an old carpet, our old stains and spots keep coming back. And we can’t just cover them up with a rug and think they won’t surface again and manifest themselves in anxiety or addictions, or express themselves in anger or depression. It’s like laying a new carpet before you deal with what’s lurking underneath the old one. And sometimes that rug just gets in the way.
But there is hope.
God offers us the ultimate stain remover — redemption and new life in Jesus Christ. He sees the debris and the mess that lies hidden beneath the facade we present to the world. And we can almost hear him say, “Pull up the rugs and the carpet and don’t be afraid to look at what’s underneath. Bring it all to me, and together, we can make everything new.”
“If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)