Love, Clutter, and Hidden Places

file0002139807118I’m determined this year to reclaim my house and yard.  As things settled in around me last year, things that strangled my soul–doubts, fears, negativity–I lost track of many of God’s truths in my life.  I lost joy, and I lost hope, and I was no longer useful to anyone.  I was defeated.

One outcome of that was that I no longer cared about my space.  My family complained that nobody cleaned.  True, every one of them is old enough to clean after himself, but the complaint went deeper, I think.  I’m the mom and the wife, and for years one way I’ve shown them love is by caring for the space they live in. It isn’t that they can’t clean after themselves; it’s that they wanted me to care again.  My spiritual and emotional struggles bled over to them by affecting even the physical surroundings.  I don’t think the complaint was the house.  I think the complaint was the level of love the house spoke to them.

After reading about a million articles, blogs, and books on simplifying, minimalism, and decluttering, I feel like I’m ready to fight through the mess and create a space where my family can feel my energy, my love, and my renewed hope and joy in God’s love for me.  It won’t be easy, which is amusing, because I decluttered right after my husband lost his job eight or nine years ago.  Since then, we’ve had little money.  I’m not a shopper.  I don’t hoard or even value my stuff that much.  I don’t know how it all got there, but stuff has taken over all the nooks and crannies.  Now it’s time to give most of it the heave ho.

All the books say to start small. I can do that.  Many suggest I start with obvious places, so I can see my victories.  I’m tossing that bit of advice to the wind, mostly because I know once it looks good on the outside, I’ll stop.  I’ve been living with myself for four and a half decades,  so I know won’t finish easily.  I’ll get distracted by something else, or I’ll get lazy, and I’ll quit, so I’m saving the good stuff for last.  First it’s the dark closets, the places under the bed, the closed drawers–all the hidden stuff.  Just two days and three small areas into my resolution, and I already feel freer.  For now, nobody can see what I’ve done, but I know it’s done. Restoration has begun. My reward for dealing with the hidden places is to see the pubic areas restored at the end.

I realize my spiritual walk will need treated the same way this year.  It’s easy to read Scripture and set aside some time for prayer and look good on the outside.  I’ve been doing that for years.  Not that I’ve been a pretender all this time–I can now, for the first time in a long time, say with faith that I’ve been a child of the King most of my life. However, I’ve been happy to work at less than full strength.  I keep a few closet doors in my heart closed, let a few cobwebs stand, ignore a few areas of sin.

Maybe even worse, I’ve ignored a few areas of confusion and weakness. Instead of fighting through doubts until I know for sure I am his, I have been happy to go through the motions.  Instead of trusting him 100%, I’ve set the bar at 86% and assumed that was good.  But all of those closed doors weigh down my soul and hinder what God can do with me.

So here it is.  This week, it’s closets and drawers.  An hour a day or even less, depending on how many trash bags I fill along the way.  I’m being ruthless and honest about what I need.  I did learn today that anything that says I love you, mom, no matter what it is, gets to stay.  When I found a colored/scribbled stocking made my oldest (now 25!) when he was little and I burst into tears, I made the rule that if it invokes tears, it gets to stay.

Here’s hoping I can be just as ruthless and honest as the Spirit and I tackle the dark paths and valleys of my soul this year.  What do I need to learn about God?  What wrong ideas about God do I need to amend? What weighs me down and what builds me up?  What will invoke tears, and what do I do with those reactions? And then, how do I use what’s left to build up others, because this is a kingdom thing.  I’m a kingdom girl on a journey, and everything I do needs to reflect that, even decluttering my house.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress.  And if I disappear, send someone after me, because the laundry room–I might fall in and never see the light of day again!

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