I don’t know about you, but I am itching for warmer weather. Here in Minnesota, spring has not yet, well, sprung which has left us with the cold winds of winter and piles of snow.
There is definitely a place and a season for winter, however if you live in Minnesota, that means this season seems to take up most of the year. I do love the beauty of a fresh snow fall especially when cozied up inside with a mug of my favorite hot chocolate, but now that we’ve had winter for what feels like 12 months, I am excited for the warmth and the changes of a new season.
Historically I haven’t really liked the season of spring. I’m not much of a fan of rainy days combined with the brown foliage of winter that lingers, though I do love watching the transformation from the dead of winter to the beautiful colors of spring. Another thing I love about spring is spring cleaning. I know that may sound crazy, but cleaning and organizing has become a fairly effective and productive stress reliever for me… most of the time. Check out this post for a few ideas on how to get more organized with your cleaning.
Today though, I wanted to talk about a different type of spring cleaning, spring cleaning that goes a little deeper. Spring cleaning of our time, spring cleaning of our thoughts, and spring cleaning of our heart attitudes.
We just celebrated the Easter holiday, but for me, it was one of those holidays that seemed to just sneak up on me and disappear quickly. I didn’t really take time to mentally prepare to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. I realized that my mind and my heart had just gotten so busy. Now as spring is approaching and I’m reflecting on missing out on Easter, I’m feeling convicted that I need to do some spring cleaning. With the change in season, it’s time to declutter my mind, wash out the dirt that has accumulated, let in fresh air and fresh life, and make a plan to prevent the chaos from accumulating again. So how do I actually plan to do this?
Declutter My Mind & Wash Out the Dirt
I just finished reading Hannah Anderson’s book Humble Roots. I cannot more highly recommend this book. If I were to write a book about the battles of my mind, well I wouldn’t need to, Hannah did a beautiful job doing this for me. In her book, Hannah talks about how our struggles with anxiety and worry boil down to pride. At first I wasn’t quite sure I agreed with her, but Hannah challenges us to consider if we’re humbly submitting to Jesus or if we’re trying to be strong enough, capable enough, good enough to carry our own burdens. Are we holding on to some sense of control or are we willing to surrender that control to the One who truly is in control. This is pride, and pride keeps us from experiencing the rest that Jesus offers: “Instead of embracing Jesus as your Messiah, it’s entirely possible that you’ve become your own messiah” (Humble Roots, p. 41).
This spring, this season, this year, I want to focus on decluttering my thoughts that circle around all of the uncertainties and things that are out of my control. Instead, I want to focus them on what God is doing, what God said he will do, and what he can do. I want to focus on humbly submitting to him and acknowledging all his good gifts (also highly, highly recommended Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts). This humility and gratitude in a way feel like the cleansing water I need to wash out the dirt that has accumulated in my mind over the long winter. Humbly practicing gratitude frees me from clinging to the dirt of anxiety.
Let in Some Fresh Air
One habit I’ve really focused on this new year is finding a moment in the day to read a few Bible passages in my She Reads Truth app which has a free The Bible In A Year plan. Although I’d love to sit and reflect on God’s word with an actual paper Bible in hand and a notebook beside for reflections, this season of my life doesn’t allow for this type of devotions. Instead of waiting for the right time when I can read the Bible the way I would prefer (and maybe even get the most out of God’s word), I decided to prioritize reading God’s word daily. Often this looks like me reading the app with my head covered by a blanket to dim the light as I put my toddler to sleep or between going to the bathroom and brushing my teeth in the morning. It’s just one of those seasons :)
I’ve decided to take a few minutes each day to prioritize God’s word, instead of scrolling through emails or my social media feeds, in order to let some fresh air and life into my heart and soul. Thoughts of anxiety and worry cannot be nearly as loud in my brain, if I’m able to reflect on the word of God. Even better yet? When I commit to memorizing a Bible passage, even one verse over the course of the week, these words nourish my soul with new life…like a breath of fresh air.
After struggling with anxiety for so many years, I have found that one of the most powerful tools to quiet the anxious thoughts is to press play on something else, some other narrative, in my mind. The first thing I ever memorized was Psalm 23. I loved the imagery of a calm yet strong shepherd who leads me beside still waters and restores my soul. Another passage that frequently helps me to quiet my mind and still my soul is Matthew 11:28-30 (this is actually the foundation verse for the book Humble Roots I mentioned above). The loving shepherd of our souls, Jesus, again invites us to come to him to find rest.
I often tell people that I have the memory of a goldfish, so memorization of Bible verses has been an exercise of my mind and soul. Because of my memory’s short comings, I like to use external memory aids like Post-it notes or index cards in strategic places around me (the fridge, bathroom mirror, next to my computer at work, etc.) to remind me of certain truths that I am reading in the Bible or encouraging books like I mentioned above.
Make a Plan
I admit that one of the triggers for getting me frustrated quickly is having my home become quickly cluttered or dirty right after I spend hours cleaning or organizing it (note: this is a post about spring cleaning, I rarely am able to spend hours cleaning, maybe if I'm lucky it happens each spring :). Sometimes, I wish I could quick hit the pause button to savor the cleanness of my house before the chaos of life takes over, but unfortunately, I’ve misplaced my life remote. Though I can’t pause the chaos, I can make a plan for how I may respond to it. I can make a plan for how to minimize the areas of clutter that typically accumulate such as the kitchen counter, the top of my dresser, the living room floor, the bathroom closet, etc.
We can use the same principle for the spring cleaning of our mind. What was my initial problem? Excessive clutter of our mind from the busyness of life. My wake up call was that I got so wrapped up in the craziness of life that I forgot to take time to nourish my mind with scripture and biblical truths to the point where I pretty much missed out on the heart of Easter. What can I do to prevent the clutter from taking over? Well I’ve shared with you a few parts of my plan above, but one last simple tool I’ve started to use is setting reminders. Certain days of the week, I have a reminder set on my phone for when I know I will have a few moments in the evening after putting my son to bed to relax. You know if the timer says? "Relaxation for 10 minutes." No joke. That’s my goal. If I get more than that great! If I get even a minute at least it’s something. Just a minute helps me to contain the clutter for me to rest in God’s rest.
Looking for some actual Spring Cleaning tips? Check out these popular posts:
Cleaning Up Your Makeup Routine: Part 1,
Happy Spring (or winter) Cleaning!
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