I spent some time in the attic last weekend. It was time. Stuff accumulates.

Empty boxes saved in case something breaks. A broken string trimmer saved in case someday I know how to fix it. Mugs saved because someone gave them to me . . . from events that are over . . . at institutions that no longer exist.

I don’t like cleaning, in part, because it reminds me of my failures. Forgotten commitments. Wishful promises. Neglected relationships.

The problem, of course, with cramming all that stuff in the attic is that the ceiling of the garage is sagging a bit. The ladder that hung straight when we moved in 14 years ago is now a bit crooked. My unwillingness to deal with stuff is causing actual damage.

David talked about cleaning in Psalm 51. He says,

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

We often read things like that, talk about God crushing bones, and we think, “See, he’s horrible.”

But then I think about cramming stuff in the attic and I realize that often, it is my unwillingness to deal with what is wrong that results in the crushing. There is a dull ache from ignored conflict. Sin, for that is what it often is, hurts. Until I address the reasons I stuff things out of sight, the ceiling will continue to sag. The bones will be crushed.

The point of cleaning is not the pain, it’s the result. Cleaning, cleansing, results in freedom, in restoration, in space and simplicity.

I must confess that every time I deep clean, whether the attic or my heart, there is emotional pain. Facing failing God and others hurts.

But my bones always feel better.

4 thoughts on “housecleaning

  1. Frank Reed

    Are you sure you didn’t clean out my place instead? I wondered where my boxes to be used for something ‘in the future maybe kinda sorta’ went. And the broken string trimmer …. that one was eerie.

    Greg Laurie said it best in his devotion today though, “Flowers don’t grow on the mountaintops, they grow in the valley”. Pain is part of the process and the more we accept it and embrace rather than run from it the more we will heal.

    Thanks, Jon.


  2. Sharon

    Don’t feel as if you failed yourself or God. As humans, we make mistakes.I, too, have been doing a lot of cleaning lately and rather than looking back with regret, take those items and bless someone else with them. Leaving them in your attic where they are going unused is preventing someone else who needs or wants them from having them.

    I have been selling off my daughters baby things, which is painful, because I have to accept that I will not have any more children. But there are other women out there that need these things, so for me to keep them in my basement when someone else could use them would be selfish of me.

    I have found the letting go process to be very healing. Some things in our attics are the result of bad decisions, some are no longer needed, and some are just clutter from a former day.

    Share what you can with others and learn as you clean out.


  3. Pingback: Housecleaning – a repost | 300 words a day

  4. Pingback: Some thoughts on talking with God. | 300 words a day

Comments are closed