By Bindu Adai Mathew
As I began to prepare to move out of our downtown condo that has been our home for the last 8 years, I realize that I’m not just cleaning out the clutter of the last 8 years of my life… I’m also cleaning out the clutter that I brought with me when I moved in 8 years ago as well.
As I sit, literally sit, in my walk-in closet and reach for the stacks of notebooks and paper that have remained hidden in the corners of my closet, I begin to quickly feel overwhelmed, realizing that what should only take me a couple of minutes is actually going to take me hours. Part of my brain rebels and reminds me that since I hadn’t looked at them in that many years, then I should probably just grab it all and chunk it into the abyss of the oversized trashbag next to me. I should, but a still, small voice booms louder than my conscience. It is the voice that has ensnared and imprisoned me for years and labeled me as a “packrat.” I give in, as I always do, and start digging through the stacks. An electricity bill from 2007. I hesitate for a moment… “But what if I need it?” I shake my head at myself, ashamed that the thought has even crossed my mind. Before it can repeat itself, I thrust the paper into the black abyss. Some receipts from a store purchase that I won’t even mention the year they’re from. I assure myself since I no longer plan to return those items, yes, these receipts can go into the trash as well. A journal from my single days when I was lamenting the woes of unrequited love. Yes, this one is a keeper and could be potential inspiration for my next novel! Not to mention it’s my journal, for goodness sake! I set it aside to my right, creating a new fresh pile of keepsakes. On and on, I go…I’m embarrassed to know that yes, while the contents of my trash bag grew so did the pile of keepsakes. While some things were easy to let go, others were painful, even if I knew I no longer needed them and probably wouldn’t have the time to look at them until I had to clean my closets yet again. I consider just throwing these keepsakes into a moving box to reckon with them later. After a heavy sigh and the feeling of dread, I look at my keepsake file and begin anew, making another pile of things I can’t part with. I slowly whittle away at the original keepsake file and soon it becomes something more manageable. While it has been painful, tedious, and long, I have to admit, I do feel more free…less burdened…
In my quiet time later that night, God prods my heart. No…not my heart, too, Lord! Wasn’t my closet enough for today? I sigh, knowing that my spring cleaning isn’t complete. If I don’t purge my heart as well of the unnecessary clutter, I will carry that with me indefinitely as well. As I pray, I began sorting through some of it. The betrayal of a once good friend. The letdown of another. The critical words of an inlaw. The stinging words of a sibling. The disappointment of a setback. Yes, there are countless things that I have hoarded and held onto in the dark recesses of my mind and heart. Things I should throw out, things I should let go of…but like the piles of paper in my closet, I have allowed myself to hold onto it, allowing it to fill unnecessary space in my life, clouding it, crowding it. I want to feel that freedom I felt earlier when I looked at my closet and saw the cleanliness and tidiness of it after my spring cleaning. Yes, it was time…more than time to spring clean my heart as well.
Forgive me, Lord, for being so unforgiving. Help me let go of the hurt, the pain, and the bitterness of some of those memories. Cleanse me, Lord, and renew my spirit. Lord, you’ve promised me joy for my ashes. You’ve promised me that you will use everything, even the bad, for my good. Lord, I choose to believe that. I choose You over my hurt and bitterness. Renew me, Lord.