by Joanie Butman
No post last week because I was too busy lugging ‘stuff’ – my daughter’s stuff, my son’s stuff and my stuff, which needed to be rearranged to accommodate their stuff. AND, we’re not done yet. One more move in June where we will attempt to squeeze my daughter’s bounty of belongings into a miniscule New York walkup apartment. Her hair products alone will take up much of the coveted shelf space. Luckily, I’ve developed a certain creative space planning from years of city living – and so has IKEA. Here’s the secret: go vertical.
Sadly, I’m just as creative in mental and spiritual space planning to accommodate my own voluminous mental and spiritual 'stuff.' In fact, even the ones I thought I’d discarded years ago sneak back in if I’m not diligent in my clutter control. I think it’s safe to say most of us have a tendency to hoard when it comes to mental and spiritual baggage. It would behoove us to choose to adopt a regular cleansing regimen, to rid ourselves of useless junk we insist on lugging around cluttering the present with the past.
Here’s my problem: I can’t function amidst clutter or chaos. I have a visceral reaction to an overcrowded, disorderly room that ushers in a lack of serenity. This phenomenon is even more pronounced in regard to spiritual matters. Many people are comforted by surrounding themselves with familiar things – even the emotional ones we know we need to discard. Unforgiveness is a universal example. There’s no shortage of spiritual distractions that, given permission, will shift our focus off God. When that happens it’s difficult, if not impossible, to focus on or appreciate any one blessing because too many lesser ‘things’ are vying for our attention.
The past two weeks have been a perfect example of how distractions intrude on what I call my ‘sacred space.’ The place where my mind and soul are at rest. I’d just completed my ongoing efforts to pare down and spruce up our home in an attempt to sell it. My house has essentially been neutered to an all beige palette to appeal to the general public. After a whirlwind graduation weekend, my neat nest got hit by a force of nature. Two of them in fact: my son and daughter, and they don’t travel light! I wouldn’t even let Doug bring the 50 lbs. of dirty laundry he arrived with in the house and sent him directly to the laundromat.
The living and dining rooms have become staging areas for my daughter’s move to New York. Whatever Feng Shui I had temporarily created was shattered. Furthermore, it's not only physical stuff that arrives with them. There are agendas and expectations as well as lifestyle differences that have shifted over the years, as Bob and I became accustomed to our empty nest and they became accustomed to independence. And the ever-present refrain “What’s for dinner?” is once more heard on an annoyingly frequent basis.
There is one room, however, that is strictly off limits: my sunroom, or should I say my Sonroom, because it’s here that I begin each day bathed in the light of His grace. My morning routine is the most important part of my day and one I guard fiercely because it’s there that I store up the only kind of treasure that lasts and is the lightest to carry. It’s where I settle my mind to reclaim inner peace. It’s a time to unload the U-Haul of my soul. Christ is the only One with the strength to carry my stuff – especially the kind that gets heavier the more I cling to it. Even better, He can handle any amount of dirty laundry we drop off - free of charge. When it comes to spiritual decluttering and space planning, GOING VERTICAL is crucial. You can change colors and the placement of objects in your home, but God is the only One who can bring your soul into harmony and balance – especially amidst chaos.
I encourage you to choose to create your own Sonroom. It’s not necessarily a place but a state of mind where you quiet your soul, enabling you to rest in His presence and listen for His whispering words of love, comfort, mercy, encouragement and wisdom.