Monday, February 6, 2012

Clean Closets and Pretty Underwear...

I have a closet in my house that at one time was probably used as a coat closet. When we moved in, I took out the hanging bar and put in several shelves and made it my linen closet/cleaning supply closet. It's not very big, less than two feet wide, but it is deep and because I'm short, I can't reach to the back of most of the shelves. 

You know what happens, right? It doesn't take long for things to get shoved to the back and covered by other things. They fall over and leak, or just get lost. 

This is also where I keep extra personal items like soap, deodorant, toothpaste, etc.; things you stock up on for later. The problem is, when we need those things we can't find them, so we end up buying more. 

This weekend I did something about that. I pulled everything out of the closet, cleaned, primed and painted the walls and one shelf, returned the hanging bar - this time covered with a pretty fabric sleeve - and hung a storage carousel in there, one that you use for purses and shoes.  It could be a little bigger, but it's so much better than it was. I can see what I have and if I need something on the backside of the closet all I have to do is spin the carousel around and it's within easy reach. I love it! 

I'm not a neat freak, and some people would say that my house is too busy or too cluttered. Sometimes I would agree with them, but most of the time it's just comfortable. I do have one little quirk, though. (Okay, more than one but only one that I'm sharing today!) I don't like to have junk drawers or closets or whole rooms. I can't stand it. I know the purpose of having a junk drawer or closet is to hide stuff and get it out of the way so know one sees it. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

The problem is that for me, out of sight is not out of mind, it's much worse. Out of sight keeps my mind on that drawer or closet until I can do something about it. I have a closet like that right now - the one under my stairs. It's packed - and I do mean packed in a precarious, wear a helmet when you open the door kind of way - with a collection that I will either sell or give away - hopefully soon. Most people don't know it's there, the stuff or the closet. It never shows. Unless they went looking for it or I showed it to them they would never know.

But I do.

As I was working on my closet God just directed my thoughts to my own life. I've heard sermons preached about letting God onto the various rooms of your heart to clean them out, freshen them up and make them presentable. I started to think about areas of my life that no one sees that have just become "junk drawers". Like my closet, I can't tell you what all is in that drawer. It's been so long since I pulled everything out and took a good look, and it's frankly a little scary to think about. 

It's something I need to think about, though. I could use some spiritual refreshing, and just like being short prevents me from reaching to the back of that very deep closet, being human prevents me from seeing into all the dark, undisturbed places of my heart. I would like for them to be cleaned out just like my closet was this weekend. 

I want to pull everything out, take a broom and dust rag to the walls and floors, prime, paint and pretty it up, and only put things back that are needed and useful. No one has to see what's in there, and no one needs to know what I throw away. That can be between me and God. And unlike my "works okay but isn't perfect" carousel, what God fixes and installs will be perfect and exactly what I need. 

I think this is an ongoing process, but one that must be deliberate and bathed in prayer. Unlike my closet this is not something I can do on my own (and I had help from my husband painting the top part of the closet!).  Over the next few weeks, I'm going to make it a point to ask God to start cleaning out the things in my life that need to go. This could be:

  • thoughts or beliefs that are not true about others or myself or situations
  • old hurts that I haven't really let go of yet
  • dreams that have hidden away in my heart unfulfilled for one reason or another
  • things that I've allowed to settle in my mind, or put in there deliberately that have no place there
  • ambitions that continue to drive my choices
  • fears that keep me from taking a step of faith
  • insecurities 
  • bad memories
  • guilt and shame
  • anger
  • grief
The list could really go on and on, couldn't it? We're so human, and if we're anywhere over the age of twelve we usually come with some pretty significant baggage. Spring is coming. As we consider all the spring cleaning chores for our homes and yards, let's not forget to allow God in to refresh our hearts, clean out the cobwebs and the old used up and forgotten things that just take up space and weigh us down. 

It takes courage and determination to open a closet that hides your junk and clean it out. It will take it to ask God into the secret places of your heart as well, but how wonderful to feel as clean and fresh on the inside as a pretty closet makes us feel. 

What does pretty underwear have to do with all of this? Nothing, except it's one of those things that (almost) no one sees, but it makes you feel pretty just knowing it's there. 

Happy cleaning! I'm praying for you. 


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