Monday, January 4, 2016

An Uncluttered Heart



Mama always said that "cleanliness is next to Godliness". Of course I was an adult before I realized that quote had no actual scriptural basis and try as she might, it didn't really help motivate me to clean my room back then, either.

It was about this time last year that I began reading a brilliant blog by Joshua Becker that struck a chord within me. He talked about the pursuit of peace in the middle of a cluttered and busy middle-class life. He talked about how getting rid of the excess in our lives allows for the important things to become magnified and the less important, minimized ... through this idea that bears the name of his blog: "Becoming Minimalist".

And it all made sense. How often we forgo the pursuit of peace for the pursuit of things, sometimes even good things.

All the while missing out on the best things.

Our pastor said yesterday, "The opportunities before you may be all good; but they may not be all God."

Sometimes, given the path I've traveled, I feel as though I've missed too much already, wasted too many years, lost too many precious moments.

They say divorce is like a thousand little good-byes... and I felt each and every one of them over the course of those five years. Every time the kids left to go to their dad's. Every morning I dropped them off at preschool because I had to go to work. It's all those unnecessary good-byes - the thousands of them collectively - that leave the scars.

Having been given a second chance at this life, this marriage, this family - to quote the quintessential 80s power ballad, "I don't wanna miss a thing."

And so, I began last year resolute to live a life more aware, deciding that [as our pastor once said] "I will not let anything that will ultimately mean nothing keep me from that which will eventually mean everything" (Pastor Chris Hodges).

I spent months prior to our move cleaning and organizing, decluttering and donating. I left no stone unturned clearing out the cluttered recesses of the closets, garage, attic, off site storage,
and inadvertently - my heart.

It's an unexpected gift amidst the clearing of the chaos, the peace that settles in its place.

And then we moved.  Right at the end of summer.  School started and life happened and the holidays began, bringing with them all the trimmings of overindulgence in nearly every facet of life.  Too much of everything.

Christmas comes and goes and we're left with lawn and leaf size bags of its remnants:  empty shipping boxes, scraps of wrapping paper, and trunk loads of new items to put away, to find a place for.

Naively, I somehow believed moving into a larger home would allow us to become even more organized.  As it turns out, I only doubled the amount of space I have to hoard and misplace items.

And so, the New Year comes and we begin again.

But this year, I've realized that before I declutter my home all over again, I must begin by decluttering  my heart.

I've been off the social media sauce for about thirty-six hours and I don't even know who I am anymore.  Seriously.  What is life.  I've reached for my phone dozens of time, unlocked the screen and stared at the icons, while silently asking myself what. are. you. even. doing?  

There's nothing there.  No window to that virtual world; no notifications that someone has tagged me in another taco meme; no twitter feed of ramblings in 140 characters or less...

Just silence.

And it's strange.

And it's deafening.

And then a whisper:

"In quietness and trust is your strength" (Isaiah 30:15).  


Quietness.  I realize that I don't even know what this is anymore.

The first verse I ever felt the Lord speaking to me all those years ago was this:  "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10).

I've forgotten how to be still and I've certainly forgotten not only how to be quiet - if I ever really knew - but also, how to allow the quiet.

My heart, my mind, my life has been all cluttered up with noise and yet, I've still found myself empty.  How could that be?  Like those lawn and leaf size garbage bags lining our garage, filled with fragments.  They're full - but empty of anything of value.  Full of everything that doesn't matter.    

And so, I decide and resolve all over again not to "let anything that will ultimately mean nothing keep me from that which will eventually mean everything".  

Instead of New Year's resolutions, I'm bent towards New Year's repentance - of all the excess, and of all the excess noise.

I surrender my heart all over again, the one filled with fragmented thoughts and outside noise, and ask the Lord to unclutter it all; to empty me out and clean me up and fill me afresh.

"In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength."  Isaiah 30:15



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