In one of his many books, author Max Lucado tells the fanciful story about what he supposedly did one time while he and his family were living in Brazil. They had gone on a week-long summer vacation and returned home to find that Max had inadvertently unplugged the freezer instead of the radio. For seven days this freezer full of food had sat there in a very hot apartment with the power off.
Max was soon identified as the culprit and, therefore, given the clean-up responsibility. He knew exactly what to do. He got a bucket and a rag and started washing the outside of the freezer. He was sure if he polished it up really nice that the horrible smell would go away. When he got through he opened the freezer door, but the rotten mess of spoiled food was still there.
So then he decided that what that freezer needed was a few friends. What a sorry social life it had as the lone appliance in a utility room. It wasn’t easy, but Max managed to round up a number of other stoves, refrigerators, and washing machines. They practically filled the apartment. What a party! They played games (pin the plug in the socket) and told microwave jokes. Max just knew that all this social interaction would cure the inside of the freezer. Yet when he opened the door again to check, the stink was even worse!
The next idea Max came up with was a winner, or so he thought. He figured that this freezer just needed some status–a little prestige to raise its self-esteem. So he got a Mercedes sticker and put it on the front. On the back he stuck a “Save the Whales” bumper sticker and even installed a cell phone on the side. He sprinkled a little cologne on top and gave it a credit card, too. This was one classy freezer. Max stepped back and gazed with admiration saying, “You might just make the cover of Popular Mechanics!” The freezer just blushed. Expecting to find the inside all nice and clean as well, Max was practically knocked over by the odor when he opened the door this time.
Max (you’ve got to admire his persistence) gave it one last try. He decided his freezer was really in need of some high-voltage pleasure, so he got it several copies of Playfridge (you know, the magazine that has full-color photos of freezers with the doors open). He rented some videos featuring sexy appliances. A few days of all this supercharged entertainment should have done the trick, Max thought. When he opened the door, he nearly got sick.
By now you’re thinking, “What kind of idiot would waste all this effort on the outside when the problem was on the inside?” But wait a minute, don’t we do the same thing?
A homemaker is struggling with depression. What does her friend suggest? Going out and buying a new dress! A husband has an affair and finds that it only leaves him with a huge burden of guilt. The solution? A new set of friends! Start hanging around with people who don’t make you feel guilty. In a hundred different ways, we fix up the outside while ignoring the inside. The moral of the story about Max’s silly antics is clear: “You change your life by changing your heart.”
—- The Applause of Heaven by Max Lucado. Word, 1990. Pages 122-125.