Soon after some of the extra demands of my Easter schedule had passed and the weather started getting a little milder for some reason I got in the mood for Spring Cleaning. That mood rarely comes so I decided to ride the tide while the wave was breaking. This year’s Spring Cleaning was about getting rid of things that are just taking space in my home. A friend of mine is moving this week and wants my help. In the process of moving he plans to get rid of stuff. Every time I move I revisit all the stuff that I have collected and re-examine whether certain stuff is a keeper or something to surrender at a Garage sale or offer up as a donation to the Salvation Army. God forbid I would simply ship stuff to the landfill, my ecological conscience kicks in. When I bought my home in Mount Joy it came with a shed out back…sheds out back can quickly become a storage center for all extra’s or the “I don’t know what to do with this” items we carry with us.
As I began Spring Cleaning, I dared to start with my shed—I pulled everything from the shed into my yard—did careful examination—loaded the pick up truck with a wide variety of old lawn chairs, unused wood, torn screens, unused storage boxes, unneeded shelving, a few old lamps, a few gifts that never did get re-gifted, and a few spare tires. After the pickup truck was full—and the excesses were either donated or disposed of—I was then able to blow out dirt and excess dust in the shed and then neatly reorganize. When it was all said and done I had eliminated an enormous amount of clutter and created much needed space. The process involved energy and an honest facing reality check over what was essential verses what was just taking up space. In the end it was liberating, and well worth the tedium and effort.
I couldn’t help but think of parallels from Spring cleaning to good living. How often I would benefit from a careful examination of my life. Taking a step back and examining the inner dimensions and priorities of my life. In truth this is not a seasonal need but would help daily. I wonder how much unnecessary baggage I carry around: I wonder how my life would feel more ordered and liberated by being more selective about what I give my heart, my time, my careful attention, my passion to. I think about some of the bad memories, hurts, or tragedies over which I have no control—time to pack them up and dispose of them. And what about that short-list of hurts inflicted by others whom I have struggled to forgive? What about some of the guilts, shames, failures, or squandered seasons of my life? Would it be time to no longer give them graceless residence in my thoughts? The more I get liberty by getting ridding myself of space-wasters in my home—the more I want the same in my heart and mind. It’s amazing how things accumulate over time—both in our natural and spiritual lives—but frequent and honest self examination—taking internal inventories under the guidance of God’s word and spirit will lead us to choose wisely about what to embrace and what to discard.
I have often believed that the traditional 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (and other recovery programs) offer some great principles in the re-examining and re-ordering of life for all people not just the Alcoholic. As an example just slowly read steps four through seven for example. 4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. 5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. 6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. 7. We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. Imagine applying these principles as well as the other eight on an ongoing basis…it leads to an Internal Clean Out and Clean Up that has a liberating impact. It reminds me of David’s prayer in Psalm 139:23,24 “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; and lead me in the everlasting way.” I guess you could call that the ultimate Spring Cleaning Prayer for the longing soul—and we’d be wise to offer that prayer every day and in every Season—but not just at Spring time. He told me to tell you.