Spring Cleaning – Inside & Out?
Overgrown flower beds, cluttered closets, dirty windows – that time of year is upon us. Our response is often spring cleaning. As the weather warms up, we stain the patio deck and hose out the garage to make our environment squeaky clean. The project list is long, but we slowly knock it out.
While it’s refreshing to tidy up our surroundings, I wonder if we shouldn’t also take time to clean up our insides. Do we ever stop to do spring cleaning on our hearts? Intentionally. Prayerfully. Humbly.
Through the years, I have observed that the disorder around me is often a sign of the clutter that resides within. While I have mastered the art of shuffling piles, I have yet to conquer them – there’s always something stacked in the corner or hidden in a drawer. Emotional disorder can be similar – it’s often easier to avoid tension or internalize struggles by stuffing them inside in hopes that they will go away over time. But if conflicts aren’t dealt with, they can begin to pile up like the mound of magazines currently sitting on my kitchen counter.
So with spring cleaning this year I have decided to tackle both – methodically chipping away at the chaos within and around me instead of hiding or burying it. In the process I am reflecting on some important questions that apply both to my home and myself: What/Who do I value? What inside and around me is broken and needs to be fixed? What just needs to go? These are good starters, and I’m taking it room-by-room and relationship-by-relationship. Of course, purging your house of unwanted stuff is a lot easier than ending unhealthy relationships. That’s where boundaries come in handy.
In their best-selling book, Boundaries, Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend discuss the importance of setting limits – internally and externally. Healthy boundaries are particularly important with our most trying relationships because often in our efforts to help suffering friends or family members, we can be brought down along with them. “Scripture is full of admonitions to separate ourselves from people who act in destructive ways,” Cloud and Townsend wrote. “We are not being unloving. Separating ourselves protects love, because we are taking a stand against things that destroy love.”
So it’s time to take stock, not only in what’s around us but also what’s inside of us. How is your spring cleaning going? And I’m not just talking about the dust bunnies under your bed!
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)