Out with the old and in with the new! A fun motto that is cheerfully chanted while ringing in the New Year but a motto that ignites within me a cleaning out frenzy like no other. Closets, drawers, storage rooms—they are all on my hit list.
But I must say, it’s a love/hate relationship I have with this task of decluttering and deep cleaning. I start off excited, highly motivated and ready to conquer the excess in my home but by the end I am tired, overwhelmed and can even be downright grumpy about the whole thing.
Perhaps this short glimpse into how it all went down last week might help explain why it’s bittersweet for me:
Day One: I ferociously dove in determined and even excited to declutter and to begin the New Year fresh and organized. So I decided on the first day to take on one of the biggest challenges—my closet! Looking back, I’m not sure that was the best starting point for the simple fact that the time it takes to remove everything out of a closet, sort through it all, try on stacks of clothes and then put them back in such a way that would make Martha Stewart proud is enough to make anyone crazy! I’m embarrassed to say that I still had a few items in my closet from college days! And I should also mention the pair of blue paisley pants that truly could have passed for drapes. And if that’s not bad enough, I had a number of pants that I’m pretty sure I could have fit both legs into one side. I couldn’t help but think what in the world was I thinking holding on to all of this? But maybe what I really should have asked myself is what in the world was I thinking ever wearing any of it?
Day Two: Hall closets and bathroom cabinets—another daunting task that required fortitude as I ripped into all the hair products and makeup that I clearly must love to collect. (I’ve decided that I’m going to blame it on Y2K. I’m quite sure that I would not have survived without a cache of hair waxes and serums, so it’s always best to be prepared and stock up). But I have decided that if I buy one more Clinique or Estee Lauder bonus I really do need therapy.
Day Three: The kitchen pantry, cupboards, AND tupperware drawer. It always amazes me how many cans of cream of chicken or mushroom soup I think I need to have on hand. Or how about all the extra bottles of barbecue sauce or grape jelly that I buy because I forget when I’m at the store that I already have 5 bottles of said item sitting in my pantry? I find that deep cleaning is such a great task just to reacquaint me with what I already have! One thing is for sure though—if I never see another random lid-less Take Along container in my plastic container drawer I will be one happy girl!
Day Four: The last frontier: my daughter’s playroom. Anyone that is familiar with Emma’s love of animals will especially appreciate this undertaking. We dumped bins of her stuffed animals into the middle of the floor and one-by-one painstakingly determined if each one would stay or be donated to to the children of Guatemala. I must say that it was a tough decision since every animal had a name and a special place in Emma’s heart. “But mom, that’s Happy Cat. He’s part of the family. We can’t give him away,” she would say as she looked at me with her big imploring eyes. Needless to say, her family of stuffed animals is still going strong, but thankfully we were able to say our goodbyes to some and downsize her clan and even spread the love to those who have never had a Happy Cat, Bob the Duck, or Bucky the Horse.
Day 5: Operation Take the Christmas Tree down was launched followed by putting the house back together after a week of being in a tornado’s path.
So, there you have it—a short diary of 5 long dust-filled days. But the more I have thought about it, those 5 days actually went beyond decluttering and served as a great reminder to me of some important principles for other areas of my life:
- If I want to accomplish anything of significance, I must be willing to work hard and do what is necessary rather than just what is fun and easy. I love what Ann Voskamp says about this:
When we don’t want to tackle hard things each day we must remember that we are meant to do hard and holy things because they are the next thing to get to the best thing God has for us!
- Sometimes things must get worse before getting better and that is when I must practice tunnel vision—staying focused on the goal rather than the difficult process.
- It’s important to sift through that which clutters my life so I can make room for what really matters.
However, what has been resonating most in my mind over these last few days is the importance of not just ringing in a New Year with an immaculate house but much more importantly making sure I take the time to thoroughly search my heart. Insecurities, lies from the enemy, jealousy, fear, greed, selfishness, and laziness are just a few of the things that can creep into the hidden places of the heart and crowd out the purposes and plans God has for me. My prayer is that I will not let a day go by without asking God to empty me of me and fill me with Him. May I fervently seek His face and keep my heart pure so that I won’t take one step out of His will or miss out on one opportunity to make a difference in this world for Him.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10
So here’s to a new year, a fresh start, and a clean heart. God, I ask You to do a new work in me this year that only You can do. Help me to be diligent in not allowing anything to clutter or harden my heart in any way. May I unswervingly follow You and honor You every single day of my life.
Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it springs the issues of life…Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you. Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left: remove your foot from evil. Proverbs 4:23-27