Clearing Closets

Don't you just hate to clean out the closet?  Weeding through the clothes.  Spending hours trying on pants, skirts, blouses and dresses.  Discovering just how much weight you've gained since this time last year.  It's a frustrating, time-consuming process, yet it is also a necessary one.  In fact, I've already tackled that chore for this season.  Yep, it's done.  And the result is I was able to donate four trash bags full of clothes to the thrift store, put two large totes of clothes in the attic and clear out my closet to the point where I can actually move the hangers from side to side. (I didn't know they did that.) It looks so much better, and although the process itself took some time, it has saved me time ever since.

Sometimes our lives could use a similar cleaning.  Yes, I firmly believe at intervals in our lives we should stop and evaluate what's in our closets.  Could it be that we need to get rid of some things?  Is it possible that we've been clinging to things that really have no place in our lives any longer?  In many ways, this purging would be quite similar to that of cleaning out our closets.  It will take time and attention and, for the most part, we will need to rid ourselves of the same types of things we discarded from our closets.  What things?  To determine that, we'll need to ask a few questions.

Does it fit? 
Let's face it, there's really no reason for our closets to be crammed full of clothes that no longer fit.  Whether the items are too big (I wish) or too small (sigh), they do us no good by cluttering up our closet space.  The same can be said for items, habits and attitudes in our lives that no longer fit our lifestyles.  As a Christian, I have no need for malice or envy, for fear and regret.  Foul language doesn't befit my personality.  Nasty habits don't fit into the picture of what Christ wants me to be.  As for worry, well, it just squeezes me way too tight.  Nope, it doesn't fit either.  So if it doesn't fit, let's get rid of it.  Why make ourselves miserable?

Do I have a need for it? 
Some of us (women, in particular) purchase clothing because we like it without taking into consideration whether we need it or have anything to wear with it.  For example, when I cleaned out my closet, I discovered I had four tan skirts.  Who needs four tan skirts?  I don't.  I also found myself stuck with mismatched pieces that I liked but that really didn't go with anything else I owned.  Sure, I could hold onto them in the hopes that one day I'd find the perfect pieces to accompany them, but why?  I don't need them.  What about our lives?  What are we holding onto that we could really do without?  Do you need the 60+ hour/week job?  Do you need the third car and the whopping payment that comes with it?  Do you need the latest and greatest cell phone or television or computer?  There is a BIG difference between wants and needs.  What do we truly need and what would we do well to get rid of?  After all, most of these things are costing us far more than a little closet space.

Does it hold any value? 
There is a particular dress in my closet that I kept even though it is currently too small.  I may be able to wear it again some day (I hope,) but that's not why I kept it.  I kept it because it's special to me.  I kept it because it holds sentimental value.  I kept it because it's one of the first gifts my husband bought for me before he was even my husband.  Yes, in the early months of our dating period, my precious Jason bought me a beautiful blue dress from Cato's, and I still have it.  That was 18 years ago, and I'm happy to say is not "that much" too small, but even if it was, I'd still keep it.  Not necessarily to wear, but to remember.  It's a reminder to me of his thoughtfulness.  Do we have similar reminders in our lives?  Things that hold value because of the positive influence they have on us?  Those are certainly things worth holding onto.  As for the others--the things that serve as reminders of negative things--they need to be tossed.  The ring that serves as a reminder of a broken vow.  The letters that remind you that you're in debt up to your eyeballs.  The scale that reminds you that you've gained 40 pounds in the past year.  The pictures of what could have been.  Those things hold no value.  They only bring us down, so why do we hold onto them? 

What's the old saying--it's a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it?  Well, the truth is, we all need to do it.  And I'm not talking about the physical closet (although that would be a good idea too).  But if you can only muster enough courage and energy to accomplish one cleaning at a time, I suggest you begin with your spiritual closet.  If it's like mine, it needs it.  But I can also attest that once you do some cleaning, tossing out the old and making room for the new, you'll feel such a sense of peace and accomplishment.  Your soul will have room to breathe, and your spirit will have room to expand.

Oh, I urge you, don't put it off any longer.  Push up your sleeves, pull out the trash bags and get busy.  You'll be glad you did!

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. - Psalm 51:10