When Making Space Means Making a Mess...
The past few days I have been pretty busy around our little home doing something I really don’t like to do: clean. I’m talking deep clean, pull everything out of every corner and out from under every bed and seriously C-L-E-A-N. I don’t like doing this. I actually probably verge on totally HATING it. Which is why it gets so bad…because I procrastinate doing it for way longer that I care to admit. Now before you think I’m an utter slob, I do clean my house. Kinda. I straighten up every day…even run the vacuum and dust the shelves. All the open spaces that others can see, I am pretty good about keeping clean. Unless someone were to look really carefully or open a closet door, you really (hopefully) wouldn’t think that my house is very messy. But…if you open the hallway closet door, or if you were to peek under my bed or (heaven forbid) go into our back bathroom…you would see…we are a pretty messy family, with some minor (ok, sometimes more than minor) hoarding tendencies. (Admitting you have a problem is the first step though, right?)
But I am typically pretty good at dusting over the surfaces and cramming the clutter into the unseen corners and closets of the house. That is, until all those corners and closets get full and can’t hold anymore, and it starts spilling out into the open spaces. Then it’s just frustrating. And before long it gets to the point where I just have to break down and suck it up and clean out the mess.
This time it started in the girls’ rooms. I have two girls, ages 10 and 8. And they have A LOT of stuff.
We have a fairly small house…less than 1200 square feet…and as much as I love our little home and am very thankful for the space that God has provided for our family, it definitely has its challenges…and storage of all our “stuff” is one of them. Clutter piles up fast, and if I don’t stay on top of it (which, sadly, I often do not), it takes over and leaves us feeling like we have even less space.
The girls’ rooms were at that point…beyond that point. Especially after Christmas, when they both had a few new things to add to their already overflowing rooms. Not to mention, there were clothes…everywhere. I couldn’t fit the clothes I had washed into their drawers because I had not purged through their clothes in over a year, and so much of what was in their drawers were things they had outgrown or no longer wore anymore. It was ridiculous. Something had to be done. I had put it off for far too long…it was time to pay the piper.
And so it began.
One room at a time, we dragged everything…EVERYTHING…out of the room and piled it in the living room. This is the part of the process that I dread the most. The part where it’s all out in the open, the part where we have to look at all of it all piled up and face it…the part where it’s….MESSY. So messy. So. So. Messy.
But it’s a necessary step. We have to face the mess in order to purge through all the unnecessary things and put things back in order.
The whole reason I started this process was because the clutter was crowding the space in their rooms. I needed to make space.
And sometimes to make space we have to make a mess first.
We have to drag out all that is cluttering up the space…the good and the bad, the old and the new, the broken and the beautiful…so we can go through it, one by one, and slowly put things back in order…slowly make space.
So that’s what we did. We piled it all up, and then we went through EVERYTHING. Every toy, every notebook, every piece of clothing they owned…and we made three piles: keep, throw away, and give away.
I am always amazed at how much TRASH accumulates in the hidden spaces, under beds and in closets and crammed in the corners of shelves. It’s insane.
We also filled up several bags full of stuff to donate. We have more than we need, and we don’t need to hang onto old things just because we can…we had new things that needed to fit in, so some of the old things had to go to make space for the new.
It was quite a process. It look a LONG time. The girls grew weary and frustrated. I was exhausted. I wanted to quit. They wanted to quit. “Just throw it in a big box and shove it in a corner…deal with it later” was a thought that whispered through my tired bones as the night hours lingered and I still had a mess to sort through. But I knew that if I did that, if I put it off, it would be a long time before I dealt with it again. No, I had to see it through…I had to finish. I’m tired of letting the clutter take over our space.
So we kept going.
And slowly…ever so slowly…their rooms started going back together. There was space for everything that was necessary and important and that they actually used and loved. Emma even has an empty drawer in her dresser (seriously!). And Lilly has a wide open space to play with all her little collections of things, so she doesn’t have to drag them all out to the living room to play with them.
They love their rooms now. And so do I.
And it got me thinking about this whole process of making space.
My word I have claimed for this year is Peace…making space in the pace for some peace, for Christ. Both spiritually and practically.
If I truly want to make space so I can have peace…in my home, in my relationships, in my life…maybe, sometimes, that requires making a bit of a mess first?
Because…how often is my heart like my home? I allow things to clutter up the spaces. I shove things in the corners, under the bed, in the closet of my heart. The spaces that people see, the ME that people see, seems to be all neat and in order…but really, if you open me up, there’s a whole lot of junk crowding the spaces in my heart. Old hurts that I haven’t let go of, habits I haven’t thrown out, unimportant things that take up my time and spaces in my day. I shove them to the side because to bring them out, to pile them up and face them, would be…well…messy. And it might take a long time to go through. I don’t even know what all is hiding in there….and, honestly, I don’t know if I even want to know.
But if I’m going to make space in the pace…make space in my heart…make space in my life…for Christ, for His peace….then I need to face the mess. I need to drag it out before Him and let Him clean me out.
Maybe it’s time to do some deep cleaning…not just in my home, but in my heart.
And then…maybe it’s time to put some steps in place so that it doesn’t get all cluttered up again. (Both in my home and my heart). Consistently purge…a little along the way…so it doesn’t pile up so badly and get so overwhelming and make such a big mess when I do go through it all. Like stop shoving things under the bed or in closets just to put them out of sight…deal with things right away.
And as far as my heart, maybe say this prayer every single day and let God clean my heart and make space in there for peace:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Psalm 139:23-24