“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” - William Morris
Around this time each year something inside begins to nag and nudge me towards a brink. I briefly glance around the room and notice the all too familiar culprit: Too much stuff. I begin to notice those superfluous things that were once wanted, but never really needed, and now they have become unwelcome guests. Feeling closed-in, I have reached an edge and know it's time for action; time to show them the door. Like the shedding of an old snakeskin, I must begin the process of rolling out of the useless, tightening casing to emerge new. I feel an urgency for release and for airier, open spaces.
I am sensing this desire surfacing on the various folds of my life, the outer, more public ones and the deeply tucked away private ones. From my living room bookcases stuffed with old novels I will never read again, to things I keep deep inside of the walls of my conscience yet still need to release, I understand that the work must begin.
I start the purging process with the mindless and simple task of cleaning out the closets in my home, where I quickly bag up the unworn, and the no longer used or useful items. I actually enjoy the task of stuffing the back of my car for a trip to the local donation center. This always brings a rush of dopamine to my brain, like a new year's party surge at midnight; goodbye old! Let the new thing begin! Clean closets are my new jam and symbol of a fresh start. I resolve to keep them that way (once again). This is the year...I will do it this time.
Finally, when I have nothing left to distract me, and I know I cannot avoid it any longer, I must begin the labor I have been long-avoiding; the hard work of cleaning up the often neglected and tarnished areas of my spirit. I must do the heavy lifting, and the moving of my mind's furniture and raising up the musty rugs of my heart to discover what lies beneath. I hold my breath and peek with one eye closed. Whoa! That is under there?? Ew.
Honestly, I find it much easier and more pleasurable to load up bags and boxes of household items I can drive away and leave behind for good than to keep having to go back to the scary cobwebbed corners in my mind. Back to those places that hold rusted containers of things I hold onto like old high school trophies and ribbons I hate to part with.
I pull a few of those containers down from their rickety shelf and look at their worn labels, reading them out loud: "Critical spirit", "Cranky attitude", "Spitting sarcasm" and "Worry-wart". They sound more like ingredients for a witches' curse-potion than something I should be keeping around. They certainly are a far cry from the fruit of the Holy Spirit. I have often swept them out the door, but somehow they always seem to make their way back in, taking up precious space. Space meant for much greater things:
Psalm 51:10 - "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me."
This short and humble prayer rushes and ripples through me like a current of Living Water. Lord, I know You created me for this - a clean heart, a right spirit - aligned with Yours. I know that You and everyone else around me deserves this and wants this better way for and from me. Help me to purge the useless things and replace them with the pursuing of Your will for me today. Holy Spirit, power wash my spirit and purify me. Amen.
Daily cleansing our hearts and minds is sacred work, an immersion offering, a baptism of sorts; down with the old and the emergence of new and allows for God to do His edifying and refining work in us and through us. Cleared out closets are good, but a clean heart and mind is so much better. And, we were made for better.
Question: What is God asking you to remove and haul away for good so He can work in your life more easily? What spiritual clutter or unhealthy habit do you need to box up and hand over to Him today? Once you do, celebrate in anticipation of the new thing He will do in your life!