Upheaval!

Stuff from two bedrooms, my study, and the hall jam-packs the dining room in preparation for new carpeting.

Let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God. –2 Corinthians 7:1 NLT

 My entire house is in a state of upheaval.

Blame it on the much-needed new carpeting. While I knew everything – and I mean everything – had to be removed from the three rooms and hall, I was clueless how much stuff we’d accumulated over the years.

My study was the worst. A year ago I started cleaning and organizing it. I got as far as packing things in boxes and creating a pile of I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with, I’ll-get-to-it-later stuff. The disorganized mess got so bad I closed the door when company came and ignored it the rest of the time. Which was getting harder to do since the only clear floor space was a narrow walkway from the door to my computer desk, a distance of three steps.

When the time came to prepare for the new carpeting, I simply dumped the stuff into boxes and bins and transferred the chaos to the dining room.

I know it’ll take time to go through it all, so I’m practicing patience. After all, it was impatience that bred the mess. Little by little, box by box, bin by bin, day by day, I’m sorting through everything – and asking myself why I held on to all that stuff. Most of the items I’d forgotten I had.

We all have areas like that, don’t we? A closet, a room, an attic or basement (or both), a garage, a shed . . . we squirrel things away thinking we may need them some day. Or we hold on for sentimental reasons. But either we forget we have it or by the time we get around to pulling it out of storage, it’s outdated, rusted, or otherwise useless. Or we’ve forgotten why we saved it.

Our spiritual houses need regular cleaning, too. How often we hang onto things better let go: a twinge of envy, a smattering of jealousy, a thoughtless remark, a moment of discontent, an act of selfishness, a surge of anger, a word of gossip, a root of bitterness, an unforgiving attitude, an exaggerated truth, a time of disappointment, discouragement, doubt. In and of themselves, they hardly take up room. But added together, compounded day after day, year after year, they usurp the room we have in our hearts and souls, leaving little space for the good stuff.

Like kindness, compassion, forgiveness, gratitude, gentleness, humility.

How to tackle such a colossal task?

First, decide to do it. Determine, “I don’t want to be this way any longer.”

Then dig in. Confess your shortcomings, weaknesses, and failures to the One who knows all you can be, who created you to be far more than you can imagine, who’s waiting to fulfill His purpose for you.

Accept His forgiveness and cleansing and let go of every ugly thing, every wart, every blemish. And don’t go back to the garbage heap and pull them out again.

Finally, know this will take time. God isn’t going to wave His hand over you and poof! all your imperfections disappear immediately.

Little by little, day by day, let Him change you, purify you, transform you into the person He created you to be, into the image of His Son. Remember, He who began this good work in you will keep right on helping you grow in His grace until His task within you is finally finished (Philippians 1:6 GNT).

Yes, it’s a time of upheaval. But like the road construction sign says, “Temporary inconvenience. Permanent improvement.”

A clean and organized study/writing room gives my muse room to dance!

Dear God, grant me the ruthlessness to pitch what I don’t and won’t need, the insight to discern what to keep, and the long-suffering and energy to sort through it all. Amen.

Read and meditate on Ephesians 4:23–32.

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

 

Stuff, Stuff, and More Stuff!

 

The status of my writing room/study presents an overwhelming de-cluttering project!

“Travel light.” –Jesus, as quoted in Luke 10:4 The Message

 When my mother-in-law passed away 19 years ago, I didn’t want the stuff my husband carted up from his former home. I had my own stuff. And I wanted my home to reflect me and my tastes, not his mother’s. But I love my husband and knew he didn’t want to part with something that was his heritage.

Circumstances of late have led to another season of transferring stuff (mostly from the attic, which was neglected the first time) to our house. So while DH is going through boxes and seeing dollar signs (“I wonder how much this old book would be worth on ebay?”), I’m growling inside. I want to simplify my living space, my calendar, my work schedule, my life. To him these things may be valuable, but to me they’re just clutter.

Clutter not only takes up physical space, but also usurps emotional and mental space we could be using for better things. It raises our stress level and takes its toll on our spirits. Even if we think we’re ignoring it and we say it doesn’t bother us, it does. It won’t go away until we do something about it.

So let’s look at some ways we can de-clutter our lives – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Pray. This is the first step. Ask for wisdom, insight, discernment. For courage to do what needs to be done, say what needs to be said (in love). For the Holy Spirit’s enabling.

Prioritize. Determine what’s important to you, what you can and cannot live without. Prioritize things. Prioritize your time. It, after all, is most precious and irreplaceable. What things do we do that we don’t feel called to do? That we said yes to because we couldn’t or wouldn’t say no? When you’re fulfilling God’s purpose for you, the joy will just spill out – you won’t be able to contain it. It will energize you.

Prioritize relationships. Which ones build you up, encourage you, energize you, uplift you? Which ones suck the joy, life, and spark out of you? God says we’re to love one another, but that doesn’t mean we’re to allow toxic relationships to poison our inner peace, infect our outlook and attitude, siphon the joy out of our spirits, and deflate our hopes and dreams. Pray for that person, but limit your time with them. Learn to say no. Firmly and politely.

Pay attention. Be alert for red flags – circumstances, gut feelings, advice from a trusted, godly friend or relative, or someone who’s learned lessons in the school of hard knocks, who’s had more experience than you. Seek God’s guidance. Remember Proverbs 3:5–6 and Psalm 37:23.

Pitch. De-clutter, Discard. Dispose. What haven’t you used or worn for a year? What are you hanging on to because you might need it someday? Can someone else use it? Pass it on, then. If not, pitch it.

Plan to live simply from now on. The best way to do this is to learn to say no. To yourself: “No. I don’t need it.” To others. Don’t accept anything merely out of kindness or guilt. Be gracious: “Thank you for thinking of me, anyhow.” Or accept it and put it in the box you have designated to give to charity.

Once you’ve de-cluttered your life, you’ll be amazed at how free you feel, how much joy you have, how much more clearly you’re thinking.

Clutter is a disease that infects not just our physical space but our minds, hearts, and spirits.

Trust God to provide you with what you need. Anything else is just stuff.

Lord, teach me to live simply. Amen.

 Read and meditate on Matthew 11:28–30

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.