2009-04-04

New Shelves, Spring Cleaning, and Spirituality


For reasons I am still not entirely sure of, I decided yesterday that it was time to clean the garage, re-organize, and build bookshelves that I have been meaning to build for months. My wife suggested that it would be a good day to do it- like she suggests every couple of weeks when we have a few spare hours in the schedule.

But yesterday, it seemed like time. It just felt right.

Maybe it is because I want to start working out on weights again, and I can't until I uncover them from all the stuff on top of them. Maybe it is because I have walked past the mess one too many times, and am tired of being harassed by it. Or maybe it is because I would like to put our new huge recycling tub in a place where we will actually USE it.

Whatever the reason, it seemed right.

So, from 5pm to 2am I worked on it (yep, I am THAT neighbor). And after 40 cinder blocks, 20 2x10x10ft boards, two trips to Home Depot, a can of spackle, a mound of trash taller than me, and a really sore lower back, I am finished.

There is a new set of 8 foot tall shelves along every wall, and the weight set is prettier than I remembered it. A ton of extraneous junk is gone (and more will leave once Kim picks through it). Walls are patched. Everything is re-organized. Everything has a place, and there is a place for everything… and then some.

And for the first time in the history of our home ownership, we could actually park our car in our garage if needed.

I am happy.

I am at peace.

I am sore (in a good way).

And in the midst of praying about my happiness (yes, I actually prayed and thanked Jesus after finishing), it dawned on me:

This is a lot like what God has been doing to me lately. In fact, it might be a perfect parallel.

Anyone who knows me knows that this has been a crazy year: Going through ordination process, graduating seminary, having second child, starting new job, working two jobs, getting ordained deacon, having new chapel built, keeping up with wife and two kids, etc. etc...

As a result my interior self has gotten cluttered. Imagine if you can only respond to 20 emails a day with any type of sincerity, but you get 50 emails a day. Or imagine if you can only label and store 20 items a day in your garage, but you get 30 or 40 items a day to put up. Imagine what your inbox would look like- or your garage would look like- after six months of that.

That is kind of what my inner life looks like right now. its confusing, bewildering, and often overwhelming.

It is just like my garage has been for the last few months since we found out we had termites and had to move everything to the middle of the floor to get rid of the little pests.

And just like going through a re-organizing my garage, I find that re-organizing my soul has the following characteristics:

- You find out that your storage space is insufficient, and you have to build new, sturdier shelves and place new hooks to hang things off of.

- You find treasures that you had forgotten you had, and you pull them out, dust them off, and start using them again.

- You find things that you once thought were valuable, but are now really trashy, or poor quality, or just horribly insufficient for life as you live it now.

- You find that the whole floor space needs to be reconfigured to make room for what really matters.

- You find that too much clutter can take all the joy out of what should be a really cool space.

- Conversely, you find that once the clutter is removed, a sense of peace and deep joy (that far exceeds the amount of work you put into it) suddenly fills your soul.

- But, you do have to put hard work into it, and you have to make time to do the deep cleaning and hard construction. You can't just sit around hoping it will happen. You have to do it.

- You never know when the time will be right to do it. Sometimes, it just happens.

- Like the project last night- which was suggested by my wife, and assisted by several people at Home Depot and my brother in law and neighbor who took items we no longer need- our spiritual growth is something we simply cannot do on our own. We need the grace of God and the help of others.

- It isn't finished. There are still lots of things that can be put up, and re-organized. But I am light years ahead of where I started.

I know this sounds corny, but the process of organizing my garage actually makes me feel like somehow I have cleaned, organized, and built new storage for my soul as well. I just feel more whole somehow.

I hope that as I pray and sort through what has been one of the most life-changing years of my life thus far, that the Lord Jesus will help me to do in my soul what I did last night in my garage. And I hope He will do the same for you too.
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This is a bunch of stuff to make us think hard about our incredible love affair with the God of the universe, our astounding infidelities against him, and his incredible grace to heal and restore us through Christ. Everything on this site is copyright © 1996-2015 by Nathan L. Bostian so if you use it, cite me... otherwise you break the 8th commandment, and make God unhappy. You can contact the author by posting a comment.