Spring Cleansing

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.

 

 

 

Spring Cleaning

I did some spring cleaning yesterday.  One of the ways to look at the condition of my heart is to look at all the papers and notes I have been keeping.  Due to some house renovations over the last several months, my desk looked like an avalanche of papers and notes waiting to happen.  So, in between my daughter’s insect project, I began to take apart the avalanche.

Part of the avalanche was a foot high stack of my dad’s papers that my brother brought me.  The stack included a lot of my dad’s business and personal notes from almost forty years of writing, bible study and running his business.  Most of you know my dad passed away into the arm’s of Jesus about three years ago.  Spring cleaning.  I pray that when my kids look through my own belongings, they find right there in black and white, my commitment to God, study of His word and evidence of introspective thoughts on living this life and serving God.  Just like my dad left for me.  Spring cleaning.

As I paged through and organized my own avalanche, I breezed through many notes from my pastor’s sermons.  I ran across a note that read like this – – Don’t give up if you find yourself doing the same thing over and over again.  Keep repenting and getting on your knees before the Lord.  One day, at just the right time, it will be over.  You will have victory.  This represents so many periods of my life.  I remember that, when my pastor said this, I had the very distinct feeling that I was not alone in my sin.  I became grateful that He is graceful and closed the book on a lot of my past.  Spring cleaning.

It wouldn’t be spring cleaning if I did not search my heart for a present change that I’d like to make.  I can sometimes be serious or stoic or cautious.  Perhaps sober is a good word for it.  It is very much part of my personality.  It works very well with my gift of encouragement, particularly to suffering sisters.  I take journeys with my beloved sisters through their pain.  I share their brokenness and pour into the exchange all of the love Christ has portioned to me.  And then over months, I see His divine touch on her life.  I hear her testimony of what God has done and we rejoice together over her healing and deliverance.  And, then, sometime later, I feel distant and lonely in my heart and perhaps even for my friend.  Because I am spring cleaning as I write, it is hard for me to say exactly why.  There is a part of me that misbelieves or remains cautious as to the victory.  That’s the part I want OUT.  There is a part of me that firmly believes the book is never shut on trials, testing and sanctification.  That is the part of me that I want IN.  Lord, help me to know You and me well enough to rejoice with my sisters and in your GREAT work.  Help me to never stop seeking to become more like you and let me be used as encouragement to my sisters in their journeys to do the same. Spring cleaning.

My avalanche is cleaned. My desk looks beautiful with stuff packed away in those pretty boxes you get at Michael’s. My projects are in four lovely stacks ready to be worked on. God is good. He is faithful and true, worthy to be praised, wholly reliable to fulfill all things. Thank you Lord for spring cleaning.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in the mirror, for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. James 2:22-25