By Nikki Blair
If my mother knew I was writing a blog post titled “Cleaning House,” she would laugh. She knows—and I freely admit—that I’m not the consummate housekeeper. If we know someone is coming to visit, we tidy all the usual clutter, and scrub all the surfaces… otherwise, our house is more often than not in a state of moderate-to-severe dishevelment. Laundry, Legos, yarn, multiple remote controls, single socks, kiddie pajama pants, military boots, cartoon-character flip-flops. This is our life. Most of the time.
But in transitional times, we become immersed in weeks–months, even–of cleaning house. Too often we have moved from state to state, taking with us boxes of “just stuff,” sometimes still taped up from the previous move. We have carefully unpacked items that never saw the light of day until it was time to carefully repack them again. It only takes a few times through that cycle before you realize that it would be infinitely preferable to let the “stuff” go.
Though moving is hard and sad and in some ways I dread it, I do love the “cleaning house” phase. With a few months left in San Antonio, we are in it now: looking ahead to how our family is growing up, reevaluating all our “stuff” and considering what to let go, deciding which pieces of furniture need revamping to suit our needs, encouraging the kids to donate toys they no longer play with, sorting through all the boxes and consolidating the “keep-worthy” items. I know in a few months, when we arrive in South Carolina and our household goods meet us there, it will feel like a combination of Christmas and New Years. We’ll open boxes and be as excited as children to discover what’s inside, and we’ll begin to put items in place to shape a whole new version of our life together. A familiar comfort and a fresh start, all at once.
Of course, there’s a spiritual parallel to this. (Isn’t there always!?) I feel it myself, often, as I change and our family changes and our location changes. We feel it when a job situation changes, or retirement happens, or an expected joy or tragedy shakes things up, or when we are in transition between one choice and another. On the other hand, we may feel the pull to renewal when life seems not to be changing at all but is instead quite still, even perhaps stagnant. These are times when we all feel that “cleaning house” phase coming on, and we begin to evaluate. Revamp. Discard. Consolidate. We think about how we spend our time and energy, whether the “stuff” we’re doing is keep-worthy, or whether we need to let it go. We think about where we are comfortable, and how we are ready for something new.
One of the last things on my “to do” list while our family is at Woodland is to work with Lance to lead a small-group study that–I hope–will help all of us “clean house” a bit. I need it, and maybe you do too? It’s less about getting rid of things, though, and more about taking stock: reflecting on the gifts God has given, the experiences we’ve had, our hard-wiring, the things we are most passionate about at this moment in our lives. All those things that are keep-worthy. It’s a sort of Christmas plus New Years: looking inside ourselves for things that surprise us (or that we just haven’t seen in a long time) and moving toward new and renewed callings in our lives and in God’s church.
If you’re ready to clean house too (in the spiritual sense, at least! we won’t be judging anyone’s scattered toys or orphaned socks!), I hope you’ll watch for more information coming soon, and join us on Sunday mornings in April. I would love to share this part of the journey with you, exploring God’s work in our lives and supporting each other as we follow God’s call.
Nikki, this is so dead-on! I still itch about every two years, almost wishing we had a duty change coming so that I’ll clean house. I look forward to discussing doing that spiritually with you.