The first thing people do when restoring old chairs is strip — strip right down to the bare wood. They do this to see what the original might have looked like and to determine if the thing is worth doing over. They strip away all the years of grime, the garish coats of paint piled one on top of the other. They get rid of all the junk that's been tacked on through the years and try to find the solid, simple thing that's underneath.
I'm like an old chair needing that stripping process. Every now and then I have to take a really hard look at the illusions I've built up in myself and my society, see what I've gotten myself into. Illusions? Yes, illusions; the excess baggage I carry around, the unnecessary, the socially expected, all that keeps me living off center too long. Stripping myself of all this is an intentional letting go of these illusions. It is a spiritual act of personal forgiveness. God lets us let go.
It's hard work to let God forgive me. I have to discover the original under all these coats I've added, strip away all the cynicism and anger I've build up, get rid of the junk I've taken on, defy my disappointments, and find what is real again.
-- Donna Schaper from Stripping down: The Art of Spiritual Restoration