According to the calendar, spring started today. Where I live, the weather didn’t get the memo. But the sun is out, and spring will arrive with warmer weather… soon.
One activity I actually enjoy at this time of year is spring cleaning. I love opening windows and getting some fresh air moving through the house after being cooped up all winter. My list includes deep cleaning, moving furniture, washing and refreshing, a LOT of laundry, reorganizing, and decluttering. Every room, surface, closet, nook and cranny – nothing is overlooked.
My approach to spring cleaning was passed down to me by my mother and grandmother. The tried-and-true methods of cleaning don’t simply get the job done, they are satisfying. I have an assortment of cleaning gadgets to make things easier and I use them for daily cleaning. My family often calls me “the gadget queen,” and truth be told, I am a sucker for them. Sometimes I am thrilled with my new “toy.” Other times, these items get added to my decluttering pile and given away – maybe someone else will appreciate their value.
In my opinion and experience, old-fashioned elbow grease works better for some tasks. Cleaning baseboards, for example, can be done with a broom-like device and dusting attachment. To get a sense of completeness and enjoy the smell of “clean,” I will get on my hand and knees with multiple rags and a bucket filled with hot water and soap. At that level, I can see and get the dirt hiding in corners and crevices. I often clean the floor while I am there, scrubbing with clean rags until the floor is equally clean, especially if the room is small.
In the planning phase, I break down this huge endeavor into several steps that I can accomplish and begin scheduling bite-sized tasks into my calendar. When I worked, I had to use several Saturdays to get the job done. Some years, I was able to get it all done in a week or two of “time off.” Now that I’m retired, but older, I don’t try to get it all done at once and schedule 4-6 hour blocks of time. This year, I plan to do it one room at a time, rather than task by task. Previously, I have scheduled days to wash walls, another day to get windows and screens done, and another day to just do closets, etc. Under that plan, my house, rather than just one room, was always “in the process” of getting cleaned.
Houses aren’t the only things needing time for deep cleaning and decluttering. Too often, we allow snippets of conversations and comments we heard over the years to impact our thoughts and actions today. We continue to listen to voices from the past, real or imagined, telling us we are clumsy, stupid, fat, etc. Sometimes, we originated these thoughts as we looked in the mirror or reflected on something that didn’t go well.
We may have bought into a statement because it was true for a season (like a bad report card), but that doesn’t mean it still applies. Other situations, like being overweight, come and go. We may try to hide them away, but negative thoughts collect like clutter in a closet that tumbles out when we open the door. Lots of things open that door.
The truth of the scale or a doctor’s visit can motivate us to improve our health. One bad grade, or a failed semester (or more), can wake us to study harder or differently to succeed. It’s past time to declutter our thoughts and get rid of statements that harm more than help, to roll up our sleeves and declutter. Keep the tools that truly help and get rid of the “gadgets” that didn’t do what they promised. Usually, these are based on feelings, and we react rather than respond.
Christians who follow their feelings rather than biblical principles will always get into trouble. To follow principles one must think… Habitual action may not involve conscious decision-making. Instead of carefully thinking through actions, one responds to a certain set of circumstances as he has taught himself to—regardless of the variables that may exist. Third, it may mean drifting with the flow of things—taking the easiest way. Here, no decisive action is taken at all; he runs with the crowd or with the pressures exerted upon him (the Bible calls it being “blown about by every wind of teaching” in Ephesians 4:14. Last, it may mean letting others tell him what to do rather than making his own decisions… God made us thinking beings and gave us a written revelation of His will to direct our thinking. When either one or both if these elements is neglected, trouble follows.Jay E. Adams, The Practical Encyclopedia of Christian Counseling, 2020, 180.
It’s time for a deep clean. Let the wind of God’s spirit clean and reorganize your self-talk.
Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2, CSB)