So, I’m not exactly a perfectionist. I’m the kind of girl who will purposely hang something up crooked so that I don’t have to worry about it looking level.
My husband…Not that way at all. He’s the type of person who will bring out the level and pencils while carefully drawing lines and hanging the picture up perfectly.
They say opposites attract. Well, that’s a good thing. We are very different in many areas.
Another thing we are the exact opposite on is clutter verses decluttering. Now I wouldn’t say I am a hoarder by any stretch of the imagination. But compared to him, I am.
About a year after we got married, Ben went through his closet and quite literally pulled out every shirt he owned and threw them on the bed.
“What are you doing with all those?” I asked.
“Throwing them away. It’s time to get new ones,” he responded.
“What’s wrong with them?”
He starts pointing out all the flaws- This one is faded. This one has a tear. This one has a paint spot. That one doesn’t fit right.
I glanced in my jammed-packed side of the closet… well, there’s an extremely worn T-shirt from high school. There’s one that I’m pretty sure I’ll never fit in again, but it’s the shirt I wore when he proposed. There’s one that my best friend from college brought me while on a trip…and I have never worn.
So many clothes… I couldn’t even fathom just throwing any of it away. But here he is just throwing them all away.
He picked up his pile, threw them in a trash bag, and asked if I wanted to go shopping?
Fast-forward a few years…
I now have three kids and a closet stuffed full of maternity clothes, pre-pregnancy clothes, in-between clothes, clothes that are 10 years out of style… you get the picture-my closet just got fuller and fuller. Until one day, I was so mad that I had nothing to wear.
So, I did it. I caved. I cleaned out my closet. I threw out every single item that didn’t fit or hadn’t been worn in at least a year. Then I tried on what was left. Will I wear it?
I had almost everything cleared out. It came time to get to the dresses. I am not a dress girl, but I still had a pretty nice stash of dresses in my closet. Most were fairly easy to throw out due to the fit, but there were a couple I could still hold onto. I had to ask myself an honest question. If I have to go to an event calling for a dress, is this the dress I want to wear, or would I rather go buy one.
If I held onto the dress, I would not have room for a new one.
That moment. That thought. It was freeing.
I can always go buy new clothes. Why hold onto something you will not use?
I realized this concept was not just literal to the clothing in my closet but in every area of my life.
If I hold onto ___, there’s no room for new ___.
If I hold onto the past, I cannot be led in the present. I cannot move to the future.
If I hold onto worry, I cannot live at peace.
If I hold onto busyness, I cannot live in peace.
If I hold onto that sin, I cannot experience God’s peace.
There seemed to be a theme. If I want to experience God’s peace, I need to clean out the closet of my heart.
My heart was so full. Full of good and bad. Full of love and full of hurts. Filled with expectations and disappointments. Filled with joys and filled with suffering. It all needed exposed.
Part of the cleaning out of my heart included opening up past hurts. As I stuffed those hurts further and further into my heart, nothing changed except that I couldn’t see them. They had to come out. They had to be acknowledged. Then there was room for something beautiful to replace it. I had to forgive.
Holding onto pain others caused me… Holding onto the hurt… Holding onto the pain I caused…It all took up a lot of space in my heart, and it was stuffed into the back of the closet. Once I exposed it, I could give it up to God and let him do what only he can do. It literally freed me. It lifted the weights of regret, shame, guilt, and all those other stuffed emotions that kept me in chains, holding me back from experiencing God’s peace, His love, His comfort, His wisdom.
I also needed to get rid of worldly desires. My need to be in control. My secret envy and pride. My need for other people’s approval. My desire to be liked by sharing gossip disguised as truths. As long as I was letting my flesh consume my heart, I gave God no room to move.
During this time, I felt a huge conviction to guard my heart. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it (Proverbs 4:23).” I didn’t realize just how much my heart was influenced. Just how much someone making a sny remark could cause me to stumble. How easily I got sucked into drama. How hearing one word would suddenly have me divulging into other people’s personal information.
I had to distance myself from all that. “Do not be misled: `Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33)
I had to learn to fill my heart with God centered stuff. Music, TV, books, even the groups I chose to play online games with. I needed my outside influences to point me to Christ.
I had to lose my heart of stone to be given a heart for Christ.
This is no task any human can do on their own. It takes discipline. It takes practice. But more importantly, it takes God. We need the help of the Holy Spirit, an open heart, and a prayer, “Create in me a pure heart Lord.”