Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cleaning out the Corners

All of yesterday and today, I've had a thought that I can't get out of my head.  Another one of those "strange" ways that God has grabbed my attention. 

I'm a neat freak.  I'm a germ-a-phobe.  I thrive on organization. 

Granted, I live in the real world.  We are busy.  I have three kids (two are boys, enough said!).  I do part-time childcare.  My kids are always home since we homeschool. 

Maintaining the "order" my brain craves isn't always easy.  As a matter of fact, it's so hit or miss it's better described as miss.  Everyone in this house knows that Mom is in a drastically better mood and fun to be around if the house is up to "my" standards.  Because I value my kids and husband above those "standards", many days we are living in controlled chaos. 

Unfortunately, I have a VERY bad habit of making junk piles.  I "need" my main surfaces clean or I have trouble focusing on the task at hand.  So the solution when I'm pinched for time is to just start a stack somewhere.  My intention is to come back to it and put it up later.  "Later" doesn't happen and the piles just start to grow.  The biggest hot spot is our master bedroom.  Almost every corner ends up with stacks of paperwork, crafting projects, books I'm reading (which can be 10 or more at a time), kids projects, binders of meal planning/household projects, card writing supplies, church supplies, and ALL things you can imagine that is school related.  Those little piles become massive stacks and then I find myself too overwhelmed to sort it out and put it away.   As I sit on our bed at the end of the day, trying to clear my head of the stress of the day and to switch gears to focus fully on my husband, all I can see is that though the main part of the room is clean (typically dusted at least every other day, vacuumed multiple times a day) the room is a mess because of the overreaching piles.  They "creep" into my thoughts and I allow them to overtake my heart. 

One day last week, I attacked those piles.  I cleaned out every last one of them.  I put each item where it belonged and purged (donated, tossed) as much of it as possible.  There is not a single item out of place in our bedroom.  Nothing hiding in the corners.  No stacks of anything.  No overflowing drawers.  No wayward items that don't belong.  Carpet is in full view around every piece of furniture. It was overwhelming in the beginning, but as the day went by and the piles got smaller, I began to relax and take a deep breath.

Coming back into our room now brings about such peace and serenity.  It's no longer a library, school-room, all-purpose room, office, etc..  It's just "our" space.  It has made the most amazing difference.  All because their is nothing lurking in the corners "screaming at me".  (Obviously it's just the voices in my head---but they can get pretty loud!!!)  It's incredible how much of a difference it makes emotionally.  I can enter our room calmly, with joy, and not see or feel chaos. 

All because I cleaned out a few corners.  The room itself was typically spotless and clean. 

I realized yesterday and today that my heart is the same way.  Surely, you guessed by now I was going somewhere with this besides talking about cleaning!

My heart is typically fairly clean.  I can do a pretty decent job of keeping the bad things out and keeping things clean on the surface.  Good things in, good things out.  Striving to live less like this world and more focused on spiritual matters helps keep the surfaces acceptably clean.

Oh, but those corners.

 A little pile here.  A little pile there.  A little junk stack here.  A little junk stack there. 

Before I know it, those little piles are big ones that spill over and out.  A little bit of bitterness.  A little bit of unforgiveness.  A little bit of jealousy.  A little bit of listening to the lies of Satan.  A little bit of disobedience.  A little sin here.  A little there. 

Before long, those "littles" aren't just hiding in a corner.  They have overtaken. 

Just like I can't relax and switch my focus very easily when the piles over take the corners of my home, neither can my heart hold it's full capacity of Christ's love. 

I want more of Him and less of me.  Yet, if I'm not careful...I'm not leaving enough room for Him. 

He can't operate fully in my life with the corners full of junk.  I might can keep things fairly clean on the main surfaces, but if those corners are full of junk...my heart is too. 

Here is the good news.  Getting rid of the piles of junk in the corners of my bedroom just took a little bit of work.  Not accepting excuses.  Taking responsibility for my actions.  Putting things where they belong and getting rid of things that don't belong their in the first place.  Forming new habits.

If I give Him full access----no hiding the corners with a blanket (ahem....)---He can clean, restore, and shine ALL the surfaces.   Give Him all the filth.  Let Him sort out what belongs and what doesn't.  It might be a painful process.  Getting rid of some things isn't always easy.   Sometimes it might feel easier to hold onto that last bit of unforgiveness or hold onto a lie because it's easier to believe than the truth.  Yet, we know the reality.  Filth is filth.  Junk is junk.  You can dress it up.  You can organize it.  But it's still junk.  Junk still prevents there from being enough space for the good things to go. 

Just like I can now go in my bedroom and fully relax and enjoy being in there with things clean, not just on the surface, my heart will have the same benefits if I let Him do the cleaning.  Every corner.  Every hidden area.  Once it's clean, there will be room for Him to put what He wants there.  I will hear Him more clearly.  I will not be hiding in shame, but living in the light.  I won't be afraid to let others see the real me, because they will be seeing Him.  I'm pretty positive those results would be amazing!

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