Categories
Confession Ink Slingers Sacraments Spiritual Growth Susie

The Importance of Decluttering Your Soul

I stood at the doorway of my room, completely overwhelmed just looking at the piles I knew I finally had to deal with. I had been putting it off and letting it build up for far too long – years, in the case of some items, which made the task that much more difficult than if I had dealt with things as they came. The weight of it all was becoming unbearable, though, and so despite the discomfort I gritted my teeth and dove in.

Several hours (and multiple empty boxes and bags of trash and giveaway items) later, I could see the dent I had started to make in the piles. I felt lighter and freer, even though I still had a long way to go. I had made progress! It was possible to see how I could finish this, eventually, or at least make it all more manageable. I didn’t have to be weighed down for the rest of my life, carting around old papers and useless keepsakes and clothes that have long before deserved to be retired.

I really don’t like clutter, but it’s easy for me to let things become cluttered. Once I leave out that pile of mail without putting it where it should go, or once I leave that pair of shoes out on the floor, it’s easier to let the mail start to pile up there, and to take off more shoes and leave them by that first pair, and then add in a jacket and some books, and before I know it things have gotten out of hand.

And I can’t help but realize how much decluttering — getting rid of stuff I’ve known I need to get rid of but am always afraid to because of the finality of it — is quite similar to my spiritual journey sometimes.

I have, by the grace of God, never fallen away from the Church. My closeness to Jesus has varied depending on what’s been going on in my life, but I’ve never had the experience of a long period being away from God entirely. I have, however, had the experience of letting sins and lies from the enemy pile up in my heart, avoiding dealing with them head on, until they get worse and worse. It can be easy to let in that one little lie from the enemy, or to do that one thing little thing I know is wrong but in the moment I decide to do anyway, and it’s easy to figure that I can clean things up with God later. The trouble is that once things start to get dirty…it’s easier to keep letting things get dirtier, whether it’s our house or our souls.

While I’m not quite to the point of appearing on a show about hoarders, I can see how it’s possible to get to there — just like I know how easy it is to put off working on overcoming sins the longer we let them fester. It’s often hardest to make myself go to confession when I need it the most, and it gets even harder if I start to put it off. If we don’t prioritize cleaning the things that really need it WHEN they need it, the easier it is to let more and more pile on, whether we’re talking about clutter or sins.

The good news is that it can get easier if we work at maintaining it better. It’s also important to stick with it once we’ve made that decision to start cleaning things up. Even if our resolve is there, it can be easy to get distracted — life happens, other priorities take precedence, and before we know it the mess is right back to where it was when we started. Thankfully, God never tires of giving us second chances — we’re the ones who have to build up to the resolve to start over again (and again, and again).

Just like I have an easier time keeping things clean once I get things clean (or, at least, telling myself I won’t let things again get as bad as they were), it’s similar with sin. Once I’ve gone to confession, I never want to sin again! But, being the human that I am, unfortunately the lack of sin doesn’t last long. At first it might just be a couple of little things — getting annoyed with someone while I’m driving or letting back in those creeping doubts about my own self-worth when I see someone else getting exactly what I want, which must mean she’s better than me.

Sometimes I can get a handle on these things before they pile up or turn into something bigger; but other times I find myself, once again, standing at the doorway, overwhelmed by the amount I have to clean up and clear out, knowing that the only way to be free again is to take that first difficult step, start examining and removing piece by piece, until eventually I reach the end and hear those most wonderful words — “I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

 

Categories
Amy M. Motherhood Parenting Vocations

Decluttering and Organizing – My Soul

I’m on a mission this year.  THIS will be the year that we organize the house – a place for everything and everything in its place.  No more clutter, no more waste.  Sound familiar?  Yeah, to me too.  I think I say that every year.  As this calendar year dawns, I feel extra motivated and ready to make it a reality this time.  Now, where to start?  Hmm, that’s what seems to trip me up each time – paralyzed with indecision, I fall back into old habits and routines, treading water in the ocean of daily activities, homework, housework, etc.

My spiritual life can fall into the same trap at times.  I WANT to spend quiet, quality time with the Lord each morning, rising before the rest of the family in order to start my day full of grace and patience.  What actually happens?  I wake up when my son’s alarm rings at 6AM (usually having fallen into bed after working until midnight), work with the children to get ready for school and head out the door by 7AM with five little ones.  Then it is back home where sometimes the littles will play quietly for a while so that I can read my devotions and have that prayer time I’m longing for.  Sometimes…  Other times, they want more breakfast and a snack and a book read to them or a game played – you get the idea.  My oldest child is eleven years old.  In many ways, he is no longer my “little” boy (not the least of which is that he stands as tall as I do).  I know how quickly times passes.  I understand the importance of reading that book and playing that game and treasure the time I have with my “littles.”  It doesn’t quell the longing for quiet time with my Lord though.

How do we find that balance?  How do we find quiet, daily devotion time with our Lord while balancing our life’s vocation of marriage and motherhood?  I haven’t found that answer yet.  A couple ideas come to mind as I type.  One is that I can aim for 15 minutes a day – I know there must be at least that much time “wasted” throughout my day.  If my 15 minutes come in 5-minute increments, that is ok – I am still spending  time with the Lord, who will recharge me and send me the grace I need to get through to the next opportunity.  If the time I have with the Lord isn’t first thing in the morning, it doesn’t mean all is lost and I might as well just give up until the children are older.  Sometimes the chance will be in the middle of the day during an unexpected nap time or in the evening when the children are doing their chores or homework or even after they are in bed for the night.  Sometimes that chance comes in the middle of night if I’m awakened by a child who needs cuddles or the pressure of the little one I’m carrying on my bladder J.  The second thought is one of my favorite bible verses, “Rejoice always.  Pray without ceasing.  In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)  We do pray as a family  together and separately – before meals, on the way to school, before any activity, before bed.  Years ago, Father gave me wonderful advice in the confessional.  He said that when things seem to be spinning out of control to stop, say a quick prayer, “God, please help me to intentionally accept the grace You are pouring into my soul.” God is always ready and waiting and here with us.  It is up to us to recognize His presence.

As this new calendar year begins, what is God calling us to do in the coming year to grow closer to Him both individually and as a family?  How can we “organize” our prayer life to help us achieve God’s will for us?  What other parts of our lives need to be simplified in order for God’s will to be clearer to us?

The LORD is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.  In green pastures he makes me lie down; to still waters he leads me;  he restores my soul.  He guides me along right paths* for the sake of his name.  Psalm 23:1-3

 

If we listen for God’s calling, even amid the hustle and bustle of our family life, He will lead us, replenish us, and guide us home.

Lord, you know when I sit and when I stand.  Please guide me and my family into this new calendar year along Your path.  Help us to follow You ever more closely.  Fill us with Your Grace and send the Holy Spirit to renew us even when the hustle and bustle keep us from having perfectly quiet devotion time with You.  Help us to remember that the hustle and bustle is our vocation and our calling in this season of our lives.  We give it all to You.  We ask and offer all this through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.