Saturday, October 7, 2017

Saturday Scriptures: House Cleaning is Hard

Clean Up On Aisle Three
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. 
Psalm 51:10 (KJV)

This week I have spent more time continuing to clean out "stuff" that has accumulated over the years. During my years of teaching, I had only enough time and energy for keeping up with the cleaning that had to be done like the usual laundry, vacuuming and mopping, cleaning toilets, etc. I thought I had done deeper clean outs during summers, but there are still so many things that have accumulated over the years and have become such a part of our house's "landscape" that I scarcely have noticed until I take the time now, in retirement, to do a really deep cleaning. To be honest, this is really hard work and I get discouraged easily. Trying to decide what things to keep and what to throw out or give away is not easy for me. Some items I use over and over and it is easy to find storage containers for those items. Other items, I like, but do not love, and yet it is hard to part with them. I especially struggle with letters, notes, cards and remembrances written or kept years and years ago from people I once knew who have either died or are long gone from my life. I sat on the floor yesterday re-reading Christmas letters that I had stuffed in an old address book written by a lovely woman I knew at a church years ago. This woman was a retired missionary, who supported me as a young woman working in the church on various projects and gave me her time, energy, wisdom and mentoring. The letters I had saved were not written to me personally, but were those newsy type of Christmas letters meant to be sent out to everyone you know, catching them up on what has happened in the previous year. She did write a personal line or two at the end of the letter to me and signed her name. These letters brought her to memory and I think that was my purpose in keeping them. What if I forget her? What if, in throwing these letters out, I also am throwing something away which will serve on some future day of bringing up her memory again? Clean up on aisle three is not so easy. It involves looking at things stored away on shelves and closets that bring up memories, digging through old boxes, and making decisions about what to keep and what needs to be let go. 

In a similar way, I sometimes need to do a clean up of my heart. What old hurts, irritations, thought patterns and grudges are lurking in the dusty boxes and shelves of my mind? I find myself wondering if there is a part of me that actually likes holding onto these old boxes of my mind that I don't really want to part with? After all, as long as these boxes are there, I can open them and take out the memories, hurtful and/or irritating as they may be, and ruminate over the hurts all over again. It would seem that clean up on aisle three of the heart is equally as hard to do as house cleaning. Can you relate?

My prayer today is that, like the psalmist, I can ask God to clean my heart and to renew a right spirit within me. With God's help, the clean up on aisle three of my heart does not have to be a frustrating experience, but rather an experience that brings renewal, calm and tranquility to my soul. 



Sharon said...

Your Saturday post really resonated with me, Debbie. Your cleaning comparison between heart and house is both meaningful and creative. I look forward each Saturday to your posts; they always give me something to think about during the following week.

Debbie Styles Life said...

Thank you, Sharon. I hope the week ahead brings only good things for you.

Karen said...

Yes, I can relate on both counts. Harder to do the heart clean up, but so very necessary. In anticipation of downsizing, I am also paring down belongings. In a big way. It's difficult to be sure, but I feel wonderful filling boxes to take to donate. Keeping only what I love and will use, taking pictures of some things for the memories. Hard to part with things, but liberating at the same time. I need to focus more on the heart clean up you mention.

Debbie Styles Life said...

I get the liberating part of filling boxes, Karen. It does feel good. It's mostly the mementoes that are hard to part with. I truly want to make room for where I am now in life. Same goes for the heart cleaning. I look forward to hearing more about where your downsizing will take you. Have a blessed week!

Jacqui said...

Hi Debbie, I feel the same way. I think memories of people, or items that evoke memories of people, are hard to let go of because our sense of who we are is so much bound up with being in relationship with others. Letting go of them can feel like we're losing a little part of ourselves. Thank you for sharing your thought-provoking post.