The weather warms up. Flowers start to bloom. Gardens get planted. Birds start chirping. All seems well with the world as we begin to thaw out from the winter months. Spring is finally here.
Along with all the glorious things spring brings, the not-so-glamorous spring cleaning also rolls around.
This year I started in big. I’d been reading up on books about minimalism and had lots of ideas. One lady I read went so far as to suggest eliminating any kind of wall art in an attempt to de clutter her house. I chose a few of her less extreme practices and kept my picures.
I started tackling sections of the house at a time, making sure to open every drawer and every closet. Some closets could be looked through with ease. Others had to have all of the contents removed and only the keepers returned. I went through very kitchen cabinet and got rid of the random kitchen tools that I had two of or never touched. Mugs, glasses, books, games, clothes….you name it.
Slowly but surely, the house was organized. Clutter was gone. I knew what every drawer and every closet contained. The old saying was coming true “A place for everything and everything in its place”.
One thing the crazy no-picture lady recommended was getting all the extras out of your bathroom. The extra mousse, half empty shampoo bottles, lotions, bars of soap, back up make-up, bubble bath, toilet paper rolls.
Instead, she suggested getting a tub and to put all of those extras in, and get it out of your bathroom. You don’t have to throw it away, just put it somewhere else. Neatly. So I got out everything that I wasn’t using, and it was amazing how much space I had! I even moved the towels from the hall closet and put them under the sink. Figured I’d save myself from another “Kala!!!! I need a towel!!!” screaming incident. She may weirdly hate pictures, but this lady understood bathrooms.
Do you know what the biggest eye opener for me was? Just how much stuff I had. I felt like I had looked at every single item in my house to purge old, unused things. But somehow, I kept on filling up trashbags to donate. After the umpteenth car load, I asked myself ‘Where did all this stuff come from?’. I personally can’t stand clutter, so there isn’t a lot of stuff just sitting around. But all that stuff was crammed somewhere. You’d think I lived in a hoarder’s house based on the amount of stuff I was getting rid of.
As I was pondering this, I started to see how it lined up with some things we’d been talking about at church. Our pastor had been preaching on being a Romans 12 Christian- about not conforming to the pattern of the world, but renewing our minds. The only way we can do that is to spend time soaking up the precious words of the Bible. No other method out there works. The question posed one Sunday kept rattling around in my brain- “Is there something you need to get rid of in you life so that renewing you mind can be a priority?”.
How do we do that? We have to find what it is in our life that needs to go so that chasing Jesus can start to move up the totem pole of importance.
First, we need to clean up the obvious trash. What do you have sitting in your house that you know you need to deal with? I think of that one giant cookie sheet that my husband loves to use when he puts both wings and pizza in the oven. It’s so convenient because he can get everything on one pan. But it’s a giant pain in the you-know-what to wash. So I kind of rinse it, then just let it sit in the sink. The next day I contemplate cleaning it, but just throw some more water on it. And the cycle continues until a week or more later, and it starts to smell.
In our lives, these are the obvious issues that we just don’t want to deal with. An attitude. Unhealthy amounts of screen time. A grudge that’s been held. A bad habit that’s gone on too long. TV or music that isn’t godly. We know it needs work, but we just don’t feel like actually doing it. Soaking and scraping these things our of our lives is work, but if we don’t do it, we’ll just smell like dirty dishes left in the sink for too long.
Then there are the sneaky things that don’t necessarily smell bad, but still need some attention. For me it was jeans. I found a pair of jeans that my daughter discarded that actually fit me. I was excited about adding to my jeans collection! But when I went to put them in my closet, I realized that I had several similar pairs. After some debate, I decided to donate them, even though they were a perfectly good pair of jeans. They were an unnecessary duplicate, and just going to take up space.
When it comes to us, we can fill our lives with things that aren’t exactly harmful, but may be unnecessary. Our calendars are the prime place to see these. It’s so easy to say yes to too many perfectly good, and even helpful, things. Before we know it, we’ve not allowed ourselves time with our families, our spouses, and ultimately our Heavenly Father. In the grand scheme of things, the baseball games, girls nights, music lessons, TV shows, and household projects are all good things…in moderation. But when they distract us from the things that God says to prioritize, then they become something that is unnecessary and needs to be purged from our lives.
Then there’s the basement. I’m talking about the creepy storage part of the basement. Mine has spiders and the occasional mouse in it….gross. It’s where I store things that I don’t need on a day to day basis, but may need occasionally. But I’ve learned that even my storage area needs some spring cleaning. Recently I found a few kitchen appliances that were stored down there as ‘extras’. But I hadn’t touched them in years, so I obviously had no need to hang on to them.
We need to evaluate our own lives, and make sure that we haven’t stuffed things down in our heart’s basement, just to get it out of eye sight. Maybe it’s some guilt we hang on to instead of dragging it up the stairs and out to the trash. Maybe it’s some insecurities that we let sit just below the surface. Maybe it’s some misconceptions about our church or friends that we let influence how we relate to them. Maybe it’s a defense mechanism learned early on that stays on your shelf. Whatever it is, make sure to skim those shelves on a regular basis and see if there isn’t something that God is asking you to pitch.
What this all comes down to, really, is our heart. If we really love Jesus and follow Him like we claim, getting rid of some of this junk wouldn’t be such a big deal. We would understand that the life that Jesus breathes into our soul is bigger and more eternal than anything that we keep around to feel satisfied. His love and the prospect of know Him more should make rearranging our priorities a no brainer. What spring cleaning to do you need to do to make room for the One who has called you into a more abundant life?