Saturday, April 6, 2019

Spring Cleaning

At last, winter is over, the Christmas decorations have long since been stashed in the attic, and the empty space in our living room and on mantels and hutches seems to invite more mementos, for nature truly does abhor a vacuum.

Time for spring cleaning! Sometimes when I go on a cleaning streak, I fool myself that I’m accomplishing something meaningful. Sometimes I organize and clean the things in my life to give myself the illusion of control, which is far more feasible over things than it is over circumstances or negative attitudes.

My husband often jokes that our house looks like a museum, not because its contents are of great material value, but because we tend to collect and display many things. I attribute such proclivities of mine to genetics. My aunt left me her collections – spoons, teacups, Hummel figurines; and my mother her collections of books and Russian Easter eggs. I guess I am just too sentimental not to display them. And of course, my husband and I had to add to this by collecting books and spoons of our own, and Christmas ornaments unique to every place we have visited.

The upfront cost of these trinkets was minimal, and they do bring smiles to our faces when they trigger the associated memories. But they take up wall space, and drawer space, and make dusting seem like an endless task. As you might imagine, I tend to put this off for special occasions or for when we are expecting company. No doubt our allergies would improve if we didn’t have so much to dust!

My husband got the bug for collecting from the beach, which at least has no additional monetary cost beyond the expense of traveling there. First it was shells, then sharks’ teeth, and now fossils that delight us as we marvel that petrified horse toes, ankle bones of a camel, and other rare finds wash up on the shore!

He has run out of space for these in the collector’s chests I bought him one Christmas. (Yes, one of the problems with having a lot of stuff is that you have to buy more stuff to organize and store it). So now the best of these treasures find temporary lodging there until they are relegated to the garage, replaced by newer and more interesting specimens.

Speaking of the garage, its musty corners have been the bane of my existence lately as I continue the never-ending chore of sorting through old stuff. Stuff that got dumped in boxes, moved to a paid storage facility, then from one closet and garage to the next. It followed us, binding us like the chains of Ebenezer Scrooge, as we moved from one home to another, as I closed my private practice, and as my mother closed her gift shop and moved from Pennsylvania to Florida.

When our son outgrew his childhood things, went to college, moved into his own place, and got married, guess who was left holding his unwanted stuff? When my mother and then my husband’s mother moved from their homes to an assisted living facility and then passed into eternity, we became curators of their remaining stuff.

At first I justified this by rationalizing that we are documenting our family history and preserving family heirlooms for future generations. And sometimes I do enjoy opening boxes for the thrill of perhaps discovering some lost treasure, or awakening a joyful memory that has slumbered through the years, or wondering about people I don’t recognize in old photos of family get-togethers.

Yet some memories are best left undisturbed, and the reminder can be as troubling as finding a silverfish scurrying across a dainty embroidered napkin. When I am being honest with myself, I realize that the costs of holding on to these unneeded things can be stifling and oppressive. The expense of a storage facility, in retrospect, was totally unjustified as I have recently opened cartons only to find that their contents are obsolete, damaged by time and the elements, or not worth saving in the first place.

Yet we are not alone in this folly. In 2014 alone, with rates on the rise ever since, there were approximately 52,000 self-storage facilities in the U.S., occupying a total roofed area three times the size of Manhattan, and generating more than $5,200,000,000 in revenue each year, renting to one of every ten U.S. families!

Not to mention the intangible costs: clutter, lack of access to space needed to maintain a home workshop or to protect vehicles, potential for injury and fatigue from repeated moving of heavy boxes, and exposure to allergens causing respiratory or skin issues. Or even tripping over a wayward box and falling. At first we may think we enjoy owning a lot of stuff, until we realize that the stuff owns us.

Too much clutter has invaded other areas of my life. The DVR is in constantly warning me “97% full,” even though I delete programs as soon as I watch them. As I only play these programs as background while exercising, sorting through mail, or cleaning, will I ever get through them all? On a more worrisome note, my Inbox is filling up so rapidly and I’ve accumulated so many downloads that now my computer is crawling at a turtle’s pace.  It’s time to clear those out too, before it crashes altogether.

Dealing with all this junk reminds me of the need to release the spiritual burdens in our life. Jesus was the perfect, sinless sacrifice Who died on the cross to pay for all our sins (John 1:29; Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2; 4:10). So why do we refuse to lay down our heavy burdens of guilt over past mistakes at the foot of His cross and just leave them there?

He is risen from the dead (Acts 17:3; Romans 8:34; 1 Corinthians 15:13-14, 20) so that all who trust Him as Lord and Savior will have eternal life with Him in Heaven (John 3:16), and even now are elevated to heavenly places with Him (Ephesians 1:3; 2:6).

So why do we needlessly carry around the weight of a bad attitude, unthankful spirit, unclean heart, or fear? He has liberated us from this spiritual clutter, cleansed us from our sins in His own precious blood (1 John 1:7), and robed us with the pristine garment of His righteousness (Job 29:14; Isaiah 61:10).

As we tackle spring cleaning, whether it be just vacuuming and yard work, or more vigorous measures like pressure washing the driveway, or finally parting with cumbersome baggage, may we not neglect the need for spiritual cleansing. Scripture tells us to cleanse daily by washing with the water of the Word (Ephesians 5:26).

If we neglect this, God, as our loving Father, may see fit to do some pressure washing, first using the Word as a two-edged sword to cleave apart joints from marrow and soul from spirit (Hebrews 4:12), and then applying physical pressure in the form of trials to chasten us (Hebrews 12:6).

God wants to bless us with His best gifts (Matthew 7:11), but as long as our arms and hearts are filled with the junk of our life before we were saved, He will not replace this with His abundant blessings (Philippians 4:19) His burden is easy and His yoke is light, so why do we stubbornly cling onto our old ways? He invites us to come to Him for respite from our burdens and to learn from His servant’s heart, and He promises us rest (Matthew 11:28-30).

Being yoked together with Jesus (Hebrews 13:5) ensures that He will help us, and that He will not only carry our burdens (1 Peter 5:7), but that He will carry us. Learning from Him to have a servant’s heart means that our priorities will be in the right place, on loving and serving Him and others (Luke 10:27), and not on hoarding excess things that weigh us down (Luke 12:15-34). Peace comes not from having earthly riches or provisions, but from storing up treasures in Heaven, where we can enjoy them throughout eternity (Matthew 6:19-20).

Suddenly I feel motivated to rummage through the remaining boxes in the garage, armed with a huge trash bag for most of the contents and cleaning supplies for those items that can be salvaged and given away. More importantly, I vow to cleanse myself daily in the Living Water (John 4:10) of His Word!

© 2019 Laurie Collett



Brenda said...

Hi Laurie,
I must admit that I am not a hoarder of any kind, except all my little notelets that I write for my blog posts in my work room. My husband tells me that my room is a 'junk' room because of all the notelets I keep. His garage, I have to say, is immaculate :-)
As far as what is most important in my life that I hoard, it is the teaching of the Holy Spirit concerning God's word that can transform me in to what I can become as a child of God. The rubbish is in the carnal mind, and what is in the mind of Christ is all that I want.
God bless you for sharing this Laurie.

Tanza Erlambang said...

yes, I think that my "arms and hearts are filled with the junk."
Thank you for your post. Have a great day

Laurie Collett said...

Hi Brenda,
I can't imagine an immaculate garage! :-) The garage is my husband's territory, but even my study is filled with piles of books, collections on display, and papers (which, by God's grace, are a lot more organized than they used to be!)
I agree completely that once we are saved, we have the mind of Christ through His Holy Spirit within us, transforming us and teaching us through His Word. May we embrace His truth!!
Thank you for sharing your insights and experience, and God bless,

Laurie Collett said...

Hi Tanza,
You're very welcome, and thank you for your comment! May you have a wonderful weekend!
God bless,

Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie,
Quite an interesting article you have written there, quoting your husband's jokes on how your home looks like a museum.
Perhaps I can identify with that, except that our lounge resembles an art gallery, or more appropriately, a photo gallery.
All around our four walls framed photos of my pre-marriage travels are on display, along with destinations my wife and I had been to together.
However, I don't have any wishes to be called a fool by God (Luke 12:16-21) for the want of building bigger barns - only to die that same day!
Instead, I see those photos as a reminder of the goodness of God in our lives and therefore giving a springboard to thank him for so many undeserved blessings and to acknowledge his goodness.
An excellent post about clearing out unwanted stuff from our minds and spirits.
God bless.

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Frank,
Collecting memories is a reminder of God's goodness, and photos are an excellent way to preserve memories. The warning in Luke 12 is a great lesson on how God's material blessings are not intended for us to hoard, but to share with others so that we can be a channel through whom blessings flow.
Thanks as always for your encouragement and for sharing your insights and experience.
God bless,

Donald Fishgrab said...

Thanks for the great reminder. We can trust God, and don't need to hoard all the physical and spiritual junk just in case we might want it some time in the future, or even to remind us of all the details of the past.

Laurie Collett said...

Amen, Donald! He is all we need.
God bless,

Aritha said...

O what a good spiritual lesson is there in you blogpost! Thanks for the reminder.

Laurie Collett said...

Thank you, Aritha, for your encouraging comment! God bless,

Tanza Erlambang said...

I thought you have a new post.
Have a great day

Laurie Collett said...

On Saturday, Lord willing! Have a great weekend!

Wise Hearted said...

Laurie, your post was interested for it brought reminders of how my life for years was filled with stuff, physical and sin. Christ started cleaning me up from the inside out and years later I begin the process of decluttering my life. Little did I know God was getting me ready to really get rid of stuff. We owned a house which housed my husband and I and our two children. We had all the trappings that made us looking like we were living the American Dream. But it was not fulfilling. As we grew in Him He begin to ask more of us and we kept saying yes everytime then He directed us into over seas missions and that is where I learned to not horde stuff. We called it living on a one way ticket. One can only take so much for that kind of living. The first country we live din was Bolivia, SA and we took 19 army duffle bags full of everything it takes to set up house. WE came home 9 years later with a few less bag. WE step out for a while and moved back into our rented house and started living the American dream, filled our house with all the seemingly things others had, only to finally sell our house to go serve in another country, Papua New Guinea. This time it was just my husband and I, we took so little for we had learned it takes so little to live. I am not one of those people who think we should live without just to do it for the sake of saying we could do it. I love convenience things such as paper plates, Walmarts, running water, washer and drying etc., all the modern things we take for granted in the states. have no keepsakes because I cannot take any of with me to heaven. Both our children do not want any nick nacks or anything from us but our bibles. We do not own a house, our car is old but runs well. I do get the itch to buy a small place for us when we retire. But I have a feeling it's will not be God itch for us. Both are parents are gone and those in heaven would tell us we are sure to enjoy stuff but don't let it keep us from making Him number one and serving Him. Now I need to get on your dancing site, wish I could see you dance and I will see if you are on youtube. Keep cleaning.

Laurie Collett said...

Thank you so much for sharing your awesome testimony! Truly all we need is Him, and to be in the center of His perfect will for our life. Thank you for the encouragement to keep on clearing out the clutter, both physical and spiritual.

Yes, we are on YouTube, and if you search "Richard and Laurie Collett" you will find many videos. Here is a link to one called "Save Me, Jesus" danced to lyrics I wrote and the vocal I recorded:
God bless you,