My closet came first.
In the winter-long darkness — now exposed to a ray of mote-filled light instead of a dust-covered light bulb — I made an appalling discovery. Spiders were lying comfortably in lacy hammocks, all wearing somewhat smug smiles.
And why wouldn’t they have happiness written all over their unblinking faces? It has been a great year. Okay, make it two. I skipped spring cleaning in 2018 with a good excuse. Instead of company coming to my place, it was their turn to frantically clean before my “white glove” arrived.
It isn’t that I didn’t try to tidy up before giving up — and then leaving home. As Charlotte and her “besties” are my witnesses watching from their shadowy corners, each time I’d go into my brimming closets, my purpose was clear: weed out clothes I never wear, gifts I never use and books that remain unread.
But in the middle of being intentional, I’d suddenly become distracted.
For instance, when I put my poodle skirt into the Goodwill bag — the very skirt my Aunt Hope gave me — I’d have a scary thought. What if it goes to the local charity and someone buys it. Then one day — horror of horrors — they meet my Aunt Hope and she says, “My, that poodle skirt looks awfully familiar!”
Never mind that she lives three states away in assisted living. I can easily get sidetracked.
Then there are all those gifts that I have collected from birthdays past that I intend to use — someday. But there they sit in a big heap in my closet.
Why don’t I re-gift them you say? Why don’t I participate in that crass act of passing on a perfectly good gift and giving it a second chance? An act so despicable and unheard of that there are multiple online articles devoted to how you can pass on a present undetected.
Certainly, I wouldn’t stoop to something so low — at least not anymore. I tried passing on a gift once — a box of stationery — and decided to do it close to home. Unfortunately, the person who had mailed the gift to me in the first place had enclosed a few photos inside the box. She thought I’d be overjoyed upon seeing them.
Well, overjoyed wasn’t exactly the feeling I had when the re-gifted recipient handed the pictures to me several weeks later.
Sigh. You would think there would be a solution to all this clutter. Myriad books tell us how to organize our homes, but mine are in a pile at the bottom of my closet. Every time I get ready to clean, I rediscover them — and there goes the rest of the day.
Despite my best attempts otherwise, I’m a closet clutter bug and it’s easy to hang onto things rather than letting them go. Unfortunately, this malady must be part of my nature because it exists on my faith side too.
Each time I go into my “closet” to pray — the quiet place that God tells us to find — mine is full, jam-packed with worries, fears and concerns. They’re so distracting that it’s difficult to focus on talking to God.
Right away my mind spies an item that requires further examination, and then my heart has to muddle over it, fret over it and refuse to let go. By the time I finish ruminating, my conversational quiet time with God has been missed. He’s been crowded out.
Is your “prayer closet” that way too?
Do you hold onto anger, and then when you start to meditate, your thoughts turn to how you’ve been wronged? Or are you hanging onto something that worries you, and then trying to figure out how to handle it alone? It may be that you’re scared to face a situation and even more afraid to “let go and let God.”
This plethora of thoughts squeeze out our ability to commune in prayer. I know, because it happens to me.
So, right now is the time to clean house, and I’ve found a solution to overflowing worries, brimming negative thoughts and unforgiving mental clutter. As best I can see, the only way to clear out our “prayer closet” is to call on the one who really knows how to do the job. His name is Jesus.
If we’ll hand over our burdens to him instead of piling them up one by one, he promises to make a clean sweep.
About the writer: Lucy Luginbill is a career television producer-host and the Spiritual Life editor for the Tri-City (Washington) Herald. In her column, she reflects on the meaning of her name, “Light Bringer.” You may contact her at [email protected]