Over the past month, maybe even two months, I’ve felt like I was cleaning house and removing the clutter; spiritually, emotionally and physically. This experience was completely different than an experience I had many years ago when I was not yet following Christ.
Back then, the baggage I carried internally overflowed into every area of my life in a negative way, except for what I needed to do to function at my job. I stuffed down my feelings, hid the pain I experienced and eventually it came to a head. When it did, things became very visible in my surrounding environment.
My house was a mess, and when I tell you it was a mess it really was. I lived in a studio apartment and slept in the living room on a sofa bed. It practically filled the space of the living room area. There was a bar that divided the kitchen from the living area and the bathroom beyond that. The bar had dirty dishes, empty cans of diet soda. I practically lived on diet soda, and there were fast food wrappers, an ashtray, an overflowing trashcan and all I wanted to do was sleep. I didn’t have the energy to clean and I didn’t have the energy to have a conversation with a friend who would demand that I told her the truth. I ignored her calls until the day she decided to show up on my doorstep and knock on the door until I answered. Believe me, I wanted to shut her out but guess what? We always gave each other keys to our houses in case of an emergency.
I stood on the opposite side of the door listening to her knock, wanting to turn back around and pull the covers over my head. Knowing all the while if I did, she would use the key she was threatening to use if I didn’t open the door. I didn’t want to let her in, I wasn’t ready to confront anything, and the condition of my apartment showed just how far gone I was. I was severely depressed. I couldn’t find the motivation to clean my house or to do anything other than go to work and come home to sleep. I didn’t have the ability to make myself care. As I prepared to open the door, for the first time I saw my house through different eyes. The rooms had become a reflection of the inner turmoil I had been experiencing for months, if not years. It became a face the music moment. I slowly opened the door.
I am so thankful that because of my relationship with God, the depression I used to hover in rarely shows its face anymore. I no longer find myself in the lows deep enough to take me down as I make the decision to regularly tackle the house cleaning.
Removing the clutter in my house spiritually consists of taking inventory of those ways of thinking that don’t line up with God’s truth. I then begin to meditate on His truth until it makes a difference in the way I see my life, my circumstances and those around me. This is a constant practice that allows me to keep the house clean, so I have more energy to pay attention to my life.
Removing the clutter in my house emotionally is confronting those things that have caused pain and learn to re-frame the experience so that I can turn it from a negative experience to a positive one. I remind myself that if I see myself as a victim of anything; whether it be circumstances, actions of another, or even life holding me back, I will never move forward and accomplish the things I have in my heart to do. As I acknowledge the emotions that crop up when I’m hurt by another person’s actions or my own, I ask myself a question. The question is “What did you learn about yourself in the experience that was positive?” The reason I keep it about myself is because I can’t change the actions of another. So, if I re-frame the experience with something positive that I’ve taken away from it, I can move on and let it go. I’ve found there’s no condemnation or shame when I face the experience in this way and add forgiveness for myself and others.
Removing the clutter in my house physically is taking responsibility for only my part of any given circumstance. I’m not responsible for someone else’s actions, only my own. The shame, lack of forgiveness, condemnation, judgement and punishment take place when I make statements like “I should have known that’s what would happen.” As I learn to deal with my emotions and re-frame my life experiences, the less harm I do to my physical body because of stress, overeating, or making negative choices about how to fuel it daily.
Father for those reading the post today who have dealt with depression and know the anxiety that leads to it, I pray that they would find You, the One who gives peace. I pray that they would all be able to clean out the emotional and spiritual clutter that leads them to fear, frustration and a low sense of worth. I pray that You would rejuvenate their desire to live a life that is healthy and walk in the freedom that You alone provide. I pray Father that for those who believe in You, that You would order their steps and place the tools in their hands that would help them take the next step to healing.