Tidying up Your Heart

(My sentiments exactly Lincoln.)

I won’t lie—

The title of this article makes my chest tight. I keep thinking about sitting down to write this and it sort of stresses me out.

The first time this happens, I wonder why. I love cleaning and sorting and organizing—it’s like my favorite way to spend Friday nights. Cleaning is therapeutic for me. So why does the thought of it in this context make me want to curl up and check out?

So I think about it a little more, though I’d rather not. I think about the fact that I enjoy light cleaning. I like a little bit of vacuuming and some dishes and running a Clorox wipe over the surfaces. I like spending an hour or so straightening things up and getting them in order so I can enjoy my space for the weekend.

I dread deep cleaning. The kind of cleaning when you need to move the furniture away from the walls and stand on stools and get on your hands and knees. I realize rather quickly in this stream of thought that cleaning is really only enjoyable when it’s kept up with—when it’s maintenance. My dad used to tell me when I was young, that it’s easier to spend 30 seconds hanging up one shirt than your entire Saturday hanging up your whole closet. That’s always resonated with me really deeply and I’ve always held to that. I don’t like clutter and I prefer to do the light weekly cleaning so that the super deep cleaning doesn’t have to happen so often or take up so much of my time when it does.

I think this leads us to my tight chest at the thought of tidying my heart. The condition of our hearts is a lot like the condition of our room or our home—if we do the regular work of keeping it clean and organized and tidy, the deep cleaning isn’t required so often. The problem is that life happens and everything around us gets messy and chaotic and we don’t make time to tidy our hearts. Everything externally seems more pressing and important and we tell ourselves we’ll get around to our insides eventually—that they are somehow less of a priority. But then before we know it, lots of time has passed and we’ve put off the tidying and we find ourselves staring down a giant mess that we can no longer ignore or avoid and it completely overwhelms and paralyzes us from moving forward in any other capacity.

Think of your kitchen table for example. Day after day it collects whatever you’re carrying around. Mail that you don’t have time to look at, receipts from eating out, leftovers, your other purse, keys, schoolwork, empty glasses and used dishes. For a while it’s fine to eat on the couch and look away from the growing piles. But, eventually, there are no dishes left to eat off of and the bills that you buried are due—or past due— and you would love to have friends over for dinner or sit down to do homework….At some point you have to put everything else on hold (whether you want to or not) and clean the kitchen table. And since you’ve waited so long, the task only became more daunting. Who knows what mail is buried and what issues you’ll uncover. You find yourself wishing you would have just kept up with it and addressed things as they came—found places for them.

Our hearts are so much this way. Day after day they’re collecting what we’re carrying around. Arguments with loved ones, relationship stress, all sorts of emotions, thoughts about the world around us and God, attitude shifts and changes, hurts, fears, hopes, etc. We convince ourselves we don’t have time to face these things in the moment and we carry on making mental notes to come back to it later. But then later comes and life hasn’t slowed down, but the mess we’ve allowed to collect in our hearts won’t let us push forward any longer. It’s become those piles on the kitchen table that eventually catch up to us and stunt us in the rest of our lives.

Most of us have caught onto the Marie Kondo bug at this point (go check an episode out on Netflix if you haven’t yet) This is exactly what it’s about. Do the work on the front end—create space and purge the stuff that isn’t bringing you joy (in your home or in your heart) and just isn’t necessary in order to make space for the things that are. Give those things that bring joy the space they deserve. Take the time to maintain your heart with light cleaning. Find places in your day for reflection and addressing heart issues and attitudes and emotions. Tell yourself it’s important—just as important as external expectations. That in the long run, daily heart tidying and maintenance will allow you to keep going and functioning just as much as a clear kitchen table! You won’t have to shut down and give up a chunk of your time to clean the messes you ignored along the way.

I think in the beginning this feels hard. It seems like this takes more time than putting it off and doing it all at once. I think that’s a lie we tell ourselves in lots of areas of our lives. A lie Satan really hopes we believe and buy into. I think he’s hoping that he can distract us until the mess is so big and overwhelming that we might just feel too defeated to even try tackling it. Maybe he can manage to keep us neglecting all the little heart things until we think the space between us and Jesus is just too much to overcome. Maybe.

Or. We can decide that we will do the daily work of tidying our hearts. We can set up spaces and places for this and refuse to allow the mess to create space and distance between us and our Savior. We can.

And we’re here to support you in this! We’re here to remind you that these spaces in your day are essential even when everything and everyone around you are coming on heavy with the pressure and the guilt to believe otherwise. We want you to have healthy and tidy hearts where good things can find homes and grow and thrive!

Let us know what heart tidying looks like for you on the daily! We could always use some fresh perspective and inspiration ourselves!

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