When Jan and I were first married, we lived in a 1000 square foot, 2 bedroom, 2 bath, condo. For the first several months of our married life, Jan would spend 5-6 hours each Saturday cleaning our small abode. I soon had to put a stop to it. Not that I wasn’t concerned about cleanliness, mind you, I just wanted to spend time with her. I didn’t want her to take all those hours cleaning our living quarters. Besides that, we never got it that dirty. Within a few months, she cut back on the time, I helped her, and we were off to enjoy a day together.
Fast forward about 20 years. When we moved to Temple, it was time for Jan to go back to work full time. She had taught school full time before the girls came, but hadn’t worked outside the home full time since they were born. With our busy schedules and the girls as involved with things as they were, Jan made a request. When she went back to work teaching full time, we would get someone to help with the house work. We just didn’t have the time nor the energy to maintain it all ourselves. We were privileged to find Yolanda. Twice a month Yolanda comes and cleans our home. It’s a good thing; with our schedules, it would never have a thorough cleaning. And really, we like a clean house!
The night before Yolanda comes, we have to get ready for her. Which means that we have to clean off the kitchen counter. Many of you have been to our house and know the counter of which I speak. It is the one right as you walk in the door from the garage. It has three chairs underneath the bar and a space at the end that juts out for an extra chair. This is the spot that everyone walks in the door and dumps their stuff from the day. And stuff is a good word. It could be backpacks, shoes, mail, papers, phones, coats, sweaters, books, keys, and, oh yes, lunchboxes from the day. And that’s just one person’s stuff. Multiply that by 4 and, well, you get the point. After we go through the evening just doing what we have to do to get ready for the next day, then load everything back up and stack it up in a chair, or under the counter, or even under the chair itself, well, once more you get the point. And there is never as much stuff that leaves the house as stuff that comes into the house. So over the course of two weeks, there can be quite the pile. And tomorrow Yolanda is coming. (See where we’re going with this?!)
Every two weeks, on a Tuesday night, we go through the mail, the books, the papers, and the notes and find someplace for them. My adage is that anything that stays in one place long enough will eventually be out of date and can be thrown in the trash. On these particular nights, there’s a bunch of stuff that ends up in the big can in the garage. Other stuff will be filed, sorted, taken care of, or just moved to another location, put in a stack for long term attention. It is in a sense a night of purging and cleaning. We give attention to the stuff that has stacked up for the past several weeks. On Wednesday morning following this ritual, our counter is nice and clean and ready for Yolanda to run a rag over it. On Wednesday nights, with a clean and shining counter, we start the process all over again.
It’s good to clean out stuff every now and then. Too often we allow things to pile up and never seem to go through them. “One day we’ll get to it,” we say. But most of the time is just stacks up. I was thinking today that if this happens with the visible stuff in our lives so easily, what about the invisible stuff? The stuff of our souls, the events, feelings, emotions, and thoughts that build upon each other and stack up to create an outlook that really isn’t too good for us. Is it time to clean out some of that? It really doesn’t take a long time for most of it. Much of this stuff is simply a matter of talking to God and letting the Spirit deal with us. But it normally doesn’t happen without a catalyst. I hope that this will serve simply as a catalyst for you to take a moment and deal with somethng you might be putting off, or pushing deeper down. Whatever it is, it’s time to deal with it.
And it’s so much nicer when it’s done.