On the surface, my home looks neat and tidy—most of the time. But I have a few favorite closets and cupboards and crannies where I like to stuff things. You know, all those things you aren’t using but don’t want to get rid of, things you conveniently shove out of sight and promptly forget. Curious and unwary visitors open the doors to these hidden places at their own risk. And that’s the problem, you see. We’re putting our house up for sale in a few months and these are exactly the kinds of places that prospective buyers will want to peek inside—to see how much space they’ll have to hide all their stuff.
Unwilling to risk an avalanche or a bodily-injury lawsuit, I’ve been cleaning out these catch-all places for the past week. For inspiration, I watched an episode of the reality TV show, Hoarders. It did the trick! I’m now motivated to clean house.
The TV show taught me to divide everything into three piles: the stuff I want to keep, the stuff I can give away, and the stuff that can be thrown away. This might seem obvious but it’s harder than you think. What may appear to be junk to an observer often has great sentimental value to me—like the crafty things my kids made for Mother’s Day. Or cards and keepsakes from loved ones. Or household items that I’ve had ever since I married, 43 years ago. (These last items come in lovely shades of avocado green and harvest gold and are probably antiques by now.)
But I have bravely set to work making slow but steady progress. The local landfill will be a little fuller this week. The nearby Bibles for Missions Thrift Store may earn a dollar or two from all my junk. And the trip I took down memory lane as I sifted through my possessions was sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking.
I feel lighter now, and freer. And that was the point. I’m moving into a new chapter in my life as my husband retires, moving to a smaller home and a simpler lifestyle. So while I’m at it, maybe it’s time for me to do some soul house-cleaning, too. I need to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” so I can “run with perseverance the race marked out” for me in the years ahead (Hebrews 12:1).
I have a page full of New Year’s resolutions I hope to accomplish in those years, copied from the January 2014 issue of Indeed magazine. Among them are:
· Have enormous dreams, visions, and goals.
· Give yourself to repairing and restoring His world.
· Be relentlessly merciful.
· Seek and expect miracles.
· Speak life-giving words.
· Don’t wait to enter His kingdom someday; bring His kingdom to earth now.
· Heal and comfort the brokenhearted.
· Be wildly creative.
· Never, ever give up.
· Dance, laugh, rejoice, live, love.
I can’t keep even one of these resolutions without God’s help. And that’s where my own, personal “house cleaning” comes in. I have crannies and cubby holes in my soul that are filled with junk. Things I have stuffed out of sight so I can look good on the outside. Attitudes and habits that I know God wants me to get rid of but that I haven’t been willing to relinquish. Worries and fears that I’ve toted around for years instead of giving them to Him.
Sorting through these hidden places requires hard work and a lot of prayer. I’ve found that a good place to start is David’s prayer in Psalm 139: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Step by step, one item at a time, my soul-closet can be emptied and cleaned and filled with good things that can be used for His glory.
And now, back to work. I have some hidden faults that need to go to the dump. And does anyone out there need a lovely, harvest-gold fondue pot?