Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spring-cleaning of the Soul

The rains have come. Green is creeping into the blanket covering the ground. Growth has come out of hiding. With the arrival of spring, hands everywhere are reaching for the accumulated dust of winter to shake it out into the sunlight. I too find myself in a season of cleaning, shaking out the dust within my soul.

For weeks I have felt the persistent creep of Sonlight into my heart. The presence of God has swept through my house, brushing against the surfaces of my home, disturbing what is stagnant. With his finger he left his name, Holiness, written in the dust collecting on my heart. With his passing, the coffee tables, bookcases, and picture frames hanging on my walls are not as clean as I supposed them to be. The dust is no longer subtle next to the contrasting streak, a window of what my soul needs to be. My heart screams, wash me.

When it comes to forgiving, I find the small things can be harder to let go than the big. The big is obvious, violent, something I cannot dismiss. It leaves painfully visible residue, garbage that reeks and causes me to stumble where it lies in the middle of the room. I have to carry it out just to regain function. But the dust and the cobwebs are easier to leave unchecked where they gather in the corners of my heart. They are undemanding, translucent, hardly visible, but over time they cover the vivid hues of my faith, subtly clouding the clarity God instilled.

I tend to put off dusting. It is tedious and easy to make excuses for. When I cut corners, I avoid dusting. It can wait, I reason. It is not dirt, just dust. I hide my sin behind another name. I choose soft, rose-colored words to describe what I feel. Frustration. Annoyance. Aggravation. I layer the excuses with the dust, a new one for every week I leave the grime unchecked. I protect my rights, justify my actions, my thoughts, my feelings. I protect the cobwebs hanging from my ceiling as if I could disguise them as works of art rather than signs of neglect. But dust is a form of dirt, and I am not frustrated. I am angry. I have chosen not to forgive.

Friday afternoon I sat down to clean the first corner on my list. I took out a piece of paper and began writing, listing offenses. As I wrote the tears and pain that surfaced surprised me. The dust was growing in size. I sobbed with the anguish of what I felt, the truth of what I saw. My little cobweb had grown into an ugly sticky web, and I was a helpless bug entangled within its grasp. It was controlling me.

Armed with the truth of my hate, I laid it all before God one sentence at a time. I read them all, and He acknowledged my pain, my injustice. Together we swept them out into the light with the hands of forgiveness and blessing. I felt the web dissolve. I ripped the paper into shreds and flushed it away, amazed that something so small could hold me so strongly.

This year spring has brought a renewed determination to be attentive to my heart, to find the unholy dust mites hiding in the cracks and crevices of the floorboards, behind the dressers, and in the high ceiling corners. Nothing is too small to be left unnoticed. It takes so little an offense to wield power of alarming strength over my heart. It is time for spring-cleaning. It is time to make sure Holiness is welcome in my home.

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