I am raising tiny hoarders who love to keep any and everything that has an iota of meaning attached to it. They save every thank you note, Lego instruction manual, entrance bracelet and piece of paper with a scrap of significance. When they are away at school or day camp, it takes every ounce of self-control in my adult body to not do a clean sweep of their spaces.
Without realizing it, I myself tend to hoard folders of failures, stacks of sins and trunks of trophies. I don’t realize how they clog and clutter my soul until I find there is little space for the burdens and interests of others. While I know that the Holy Spirit can operate within tight places, I am certain He appreciates enough space to move about freely. As such, fairly regularly, He begins a clean sweep of my soul.
While I have not read the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I believe I have experienced the Holy Spirit’s version countless times. Each time, the purge begins with unpleasant realities but leads to a much-needed airing out of my soul, leaving fresh spaces and places for God to pour out His presence and purposes.
Folders of Failures
While I can never remember my grocery list or dates for events, I have an impeccable memory when it comes to my failures. I tend to hold on to them and play them on repeat in my mind the way my children replay the Duck Song on YouTube. I fiddle with my failings, turning them over and over the way my children play with their Rubix cubes. If only I had done______ or not done ______, if only I had planned better or thought harder, if only I had been more consistent. Little sticks of “If only’s” begin to add up, damning up the free flow of the forgiveness of God.
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. Psalm 103: 10-11.
While it is easy to sing this Scripture in songs or paint it on placards, it is much harder to apply to our own lives. A relinquishing of our failures must proceed a receiving of His forgiveness. I must rest in His presence and wade in His Words long enough to believe that He is far more satisfied with Jesus in me than I am dissatisfied with myself.
Stacks of Sins
In the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, you are invited to let go of the things that do not make you smile, that don’t bring you happiness or warmth. However, in Spirit-enabled soul-tidying, we are called to especially rid ourselves of the sins and idols that bring smiles to our faces. We all have pet sins, those that seem to help us gain success or approval, those that promise shortcuts to satisfaction or significance.
Perfectionism is a favorite sin of mine. I tend to have it in every shade like my Target tank tops, stacks of the same root sin, painted with different hues, cut slightly differently. Before I knew the Lord, it awarded me countless awards and ribbons and scholarships. Since knowing the Lord, it has allowed me to present a certain image to others that makes me feel better and stronger than others. I rid my closet of it, but then my flesh find ways to smuggle it back into my soul.
God called His people to completely rid the Promised Land of all traces of the idolatrous shrines to the Asherim (Deuteronomy 7:5). Jesus, in a display of righteous anger, cleansed the Temple (Matthew 21: 12-17 & John 2:11-12). The Spirit does a similar continual cleanse of our souls which are now the temples of the Lord. We would do well to come alongside Him rather than fight against Him in His life-giving attempt to rid us of the traces of our pet sins.
Trunks of Trophies
While it seems obvious that we ought to let go of our failures and favorite sins, it is less apparent that the Spirit would continually cleanse of our trophies. But our successes and placards of faithfulness have as much power to clog our souls as do our failures and instances of unfaithfulness.
The only wise thing to do with trophies and crowns is to throw them down at the feet of our Jesus in worship. Rather than storing them up as trophies to our own pride, we ought to offer them to Him as trophies of His grace.
They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are you, our Lord to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” Revelation 4:10-11.
May you and I both experience the soul-changing magic of tidying up, as grace can fill empty things, and the Spirit works where He has space to compel and constrain and pour.