It’s a New Year! But God is still the same God!
I’m happier about that than I am to see 2018 behind us and I’m pretty happy to see it gone.
For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
The start of each new year, for the last couple of them, I’ve taken to cleaning out the junk in the house. I use the 40 bags in 40 days method combined with the KonMari method of asking if each thing in our house brings joy. If it doesn’t, it gets sold, donated or tossed. Quite liberating and potentially keeps the clutter to a minimum.
Note: That is as far as I go with her method. I do not thank my house or give honor to inanimate objects. I give God thanks for His provision and thanks to Him only. I figured I would clarify after catching an episode of Tidying Up With Marie Kondo on Netflix.
We had our son at the end of February and let me tell you, baby stuff EVERYWHERE!
We live in a place about 700 square feet. It was a cozy fit for me, my husband, our geriatric chihuahua Spaz, and our three guinea pigs. We had hoped to be in a house before bringing our son home from the hospital but due to a series of unfortunate events, we are still currently making the best of our situation. It’s a whole other story but the last two years have been a roller coaster to say the least.
Well, not only did we have to make room for all the baby stuff and get creative about storage, but I ended up having an emergency C-section along with a colicky child with reflux issues. Lets just say he required a LOT of attention the first six months. We had people offer to come over and help but I always turned them down, for a couple of reasons.
With all the baby stuff now in the house, our place was over crowded and over cluttered. One kitchen wall is lined from floor to ceiling (almost) with boxes of stuff I had to pack up to make room for all the new baby stuff coming in. We weren’t able to even have a regular nursery for him. Instead, we had to clear out our bedroom on my side of the bed to fit a pack n play and shelving for all his clothes. A hanging shoe bag over the bedroom door holds all of his toiletries, towels, wash cloths, etc. I’m telling you, we had to get creative with how to make this work.
I didn’t want anyone over because I was embarrassed at how crowded it was and the fact that the only place we could offer for them to sit was a hard seat dining chair. We have a two person sofa, the kind with a console and two reclining seats that are more like a seat and a half. One seat however is half blocked where I’ve had to push the coffee table against the wall to put up his 8 panel play yard. That’s the only way to keep him safe from the rest of the house, ha!
Another contributing factor is that by college degree, I am an Interior Designer. An award winning one at that. I am no longer in practice other than for my church or other other churches in helping them with design, but you would never know to look at our little home.
God started dealing with me about this however. A good friend kept offering to come over and help with Nicolas and I kept refusing for the reasons stated above. Then, a month or so ago, she was in town and wanted to bring something to me. Usually we would meet up somewhere but I was home this particular day and not dressed to get out and she was already on her way.
I had to release my fear and anxiety over our clutter. Did you know you can have fear and anxiety over such a thing? Yes, yes you can.
I immediately started pointing out the dirty floors, the piled up boxes in the kitchen, apologizing for the hay smell in the living room (we have guinea pigs, they eat hay, they are in the living room)…and she just looked at me and shook her head and said to stop worrying about it. She promised me she wasn’t thinking anything of it and she had clutter at her house too so I shouldn’t be embarrassed by it.
It was difficult for me to let her in that day but I knew I needed to. God was trying to show me something. She is not one to impose either so I knew there was a point to her visit.
Our home is nowhere near being suited for a television show that displays ultimate clutter, except the spare room. That room could be on that show. That room is where things go in the 20 minute clean ups before someone stops by or the landlord has to come over for some reason. The door gets shut and a couple times a year, I tackle it to clean out what we don’t use or need and what doesn’t bring happiness. It stores extra pieces of furniture for when we do move into a house. It stores books that we use occasionally. It stores some childhood memorabilia. It stores arts and crafts. Then throughout the year, it stores randomness from all the other rooms.
As soon as she came in the back door I started saying things like, “Don’t mind the unscrubbed floors. They’re swept, I just didn’t have time to scrub them. And ignore that wall of stuff against the wall, I have nowhere else to store it. At least I did the dishes, ha!”
She just shook her head at me and said something along the lines of she didn’t come over to judge my house. The first ten minutes of our conversation went back and forth like this.
As I sat in the baby jail with my son, she was able to have the one comfortable seat in the house, the unblocked recliner. She ended up staying for a few hours and we had great fellowship. At one point, I told her I knew I needed her to come over that day. I knew God was working on my pride in this event. She just smiled and said (paraphrased), “You know I would never barge in or impose but God told me I had to come over here.”
I won’t reveal what friend this was because she assured me while she was there, her house looked about the same, in efforts to help me be more relaxed about the whole situation. When she left and made it home, she sent me pictures to prove it. That’s what awesome friends do.
This Christmas being our son’s first Christmas, we decided to have my mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law over to our place on Christmas Eve day to celebrate. This meant I had to deep clean and remove the clutter from the rest of the house. Now that he’s almost 10 months, I’ve been able to give away a lot of the newborn items and gadgets and free up some space. Those boxes in the kitchen are still there however because there is nowhere else for them to go. In being able to deep clean and scrub floors and walls and baseboards, a lot was shoved into the already stuffed spare room. The door was shut. Out of sight, out of mind.
Christmas came and with everything being cleaned out and put up, I didn’t mind having people over. It helped that I was able to clear out a packed car load of baby goods a few weeks ago and then another packed car load of stuff to the thrift store.
Every time I walked past that closed door though, I cringed. I even had to go in there at one point while company was over and when I did, I opened the door just enough to squeeze in and squeeze back out in hopes that nobody got a peek of the mess behind it.
Later that day after family left and it was just me, my husband and our son, we sat down to relax and watch A Christmas Story (a long time tradition on Christmas Eve in my family) and I commented on how nice it was to have everything cleaned up and put away and we (me mostly) could relax without feeling guilty about having to do dishes or mop the floor or put clothes away or wash clothes or anything else that I can’t seem to keep up with. Then the spare room popped into my head and I sighed but quickly went back to enjoying the movie and family time.
I realized something in that moment however. Each of us have a junk drawer, a spare room, stuff shoved in a closet or some kind of clutter, big or small, somewhere. There are more of us that do than don’t, and if you are one of those who don’t, tell me your secrets!
Anyways, I started thinking about how many of us put other things, spiritual things, out of sight out of mind. There are areas I need the Holy Spirit to come in and do the work I can’t do on my own. I need to learn how to be better at being patient, I need to forgive quicker, I need to realize the fullness of love that God has for me and for others…I could add more here but you get the point.
These things all kind of get put in that “spare room” just long enough to give the appearance that I’ve got it all together until a situation comes up where I have to squeeze into that room and squeeze back out to deal with it. God knows what is in that spare room at all times. He’s the only one it can’t be hidden from.
For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and he pondereth all his goings.
There is nothing we can hide from God but this shouldn’t be seen as fear mongering, it should be seen as help. He sees and knows everything about us and still loves us. His Word gives us instruction on how to become more like Him and get rid of that clutter in our closets. There’s something about a clean house that allows me to relax and enjoy the time I spend in it. When we let God help us clear the spiritual clutter, we can relax and enjoy our time with Him as well.
Reading the Word of God enables us to see how Christ lived and we can be more like him by following his examples. Making room for the Holy Spirit in our lives brings comfort and help. Praise and worship opens us up to Holy change and we don’t have to limit our praise and worship to Sunday morning or Wednesday night.