Dare I say we have finally made it to spring? I fear that if I actually write that statement, we will get another snow! The white fluffy stuff fell from the sky a few more times than on a typical year – and it’s been a roller coaster year of temperatures. The flowers are in shock. The birds are chirping through freezing rain. And in any given week, North Carolina boasts all four seasons.
Alas, I put away all the coats and gloves, believing it is actually spring. With coats and gloves being shoved into various drawers and empty closet space, I began to realize the need for a more deep kind of spring cleaning. Shoes I don’t wear. Clothes I don’t need. Bags and bags and bags galore that I don’t know how, but they just keep piling up. And why does anyone need this many linens? Don’t even get me started on the Christmas wrapping paper section of the back closet…
So this past Saturday, a rainy and chilly one, I set out to spring clean. I even joked with some friends that I felt like I was in a good emotional place and could get rid of things without being too sentimental. I border somewhere between “I may need it one day” (which lands in the realistic, frugal category, right?) and “I paid for it, so I can’t get rid of it!” (which, too many steps toward this one and you get an episode of Hoarders…).
First things first, I had to pull it all out. Then look and see what’s there. And what doesn’t need to be there. What has just piled up because I haven’t had time to deal with it? What is misplaced and should go with another group that is just like it? What worked when I put it there and now doesn’t make as much sense? My dog, who follows me everywhere, eventually settled himself amongst a pile of things since I was moving from room to room so quickly, delivering things to the place in which they felt like they belonged.
After a few hours, I was satisfied with my work and though I didn’t pull together as many bags to give away as I envisioned, I ended up with three pretty well organized closets. Yet, pretty soon into the closet clean out process, I began to realize that cleaning out closets is a lot like cleaning out your heart.
Occasionally, we go through seasons where, if we will allow him, God will work on specific things in our hearts. He cleans out certain caverns of our hearts and moves us towards healing in other areas. Sometimes it can feel like spring cleaning – and unending cycle of piling up, then cleaning out, then piling up. A few thoughts I had about how closets and hearts are similar:
- Closets require regular checks – no one wants to open a door and have things fall on them. Our hearts require regular checks. We are all on a heart journey. Mine doesn’t look like yours. And yours doesn’t look like mine. But I truly believe that because of the state of the world we live in, our hearts require regular checks. And we need to make time to do this. Within community and with the power of the Holy Spirit, we can check in with our hearts and see what’s awry, what’s supposed to be there, and what’s hurting. And I believe God is willing and able to guide us and heal us in the process.
- There’s a good chance that, unless you’re pretty close to me, you’ll never know I cleaned out my closets (however, now all of you know!). In a lot of ways, that’s like heart clean up, too. Unless we are in constant community and have a place to tell people of the things God is cleaning up in our hearts, there’s some chance the outside world will not know. And let’s be honest, not everyone is invited into our closets. Nor is everyone invited into the heart work God is doing. But let someone in. It’s better that way.
- The back corner has things that can be thrown away. I have a general rule: “If it didn’t get used in the past season (or year… or ever) – throw it away, or give it away”. Our hearts are like that. We bury in the back, deep, dark corners things that we would rather not deal with, or they’re inconvenient to us at this time, or we just plain don’t like them. They may be past sins. Or heart postures. Or wants and desires we have allowed to be pushed away. We bury them deep because we don’t want to deal with them or to experience the pain of dealing with them. And most likely, we don’t want people to see them.
However, unlike our closets, where we can hide things and toss them aside, potentially never to be dealt with again, our hearts are the most important part of us. We are told to guard it, for it is the wellspring of life (Proverbs 4:23). The word heart is used over 700 times in the Bible… It must be pretty important! Just like those pesky closets when it’s getting warm, take some time to give your heart a check. Allow the Holy Spirit to show you what needs tending. Then knock out the cobwebs, pack up some baggage to give away, and walk fully into spring.
It’s worth it!