Dear Hyde Park Family,
Let me be the first one – and likely the only one – to wish you and yours a “Happy National Clean Up Your Room Day.” That’s right. It’s a day wholly designated to encourage people to clean up their rooms. I have no idea about the origins or authenticity of the day, as I found out about it perusing some national holiday websites whose reliability is impossible to gauge. All I know is that it takes place one day before “Eat What You Want Day” (May 11) and one day after “Lost Sock Remembrance Day” (May 9).
My hunch is that its origins came from some parent tired of pleading with their children to tidy up their bedrooms, who decided to concentrate a whole year’s worth of begging into one day of the year. Whatever way the observance started, I think there’s something endearing about designating a day to jettison the old and breathe in a fresh, clean start.
Don Aslett, author of Clutter’s Last Stand: It’s Time to De-Junk Your Life, offers many helpful steps on how to cut through the clutter in one’s home. He suggests that when faced with a mountain of possessions that are not of everyday use and cannot be readily stored, you take three large garbage bags and one large box and mark them as such:
JUNK: For items that are trash, broken, or no longer necessary.
CHARITY: For items that can be given away to others.
SORT: For items to be sorted at a later time, no later than one month from now.
WITHDRAWAL (the box): For items to be retrieved if you really need them. But after a year, if you have not needed to open the box, throw the whole thing away.
The process may sound simple on paper. But it requires decisiveness: no regrets or second-guessing. Purging through our homes can be a painful procedure, but it is necessary to keep a life that is sanitary, functional, and healthy.
CLEANING UP YOUR (SPIRITUAL) ROOM
Reading Aslett’s advice made me think about how these principles can be applied to our spiritual lives as well. When John Wesley was standardizing the format of the small groups that met as part of his Methodist renewal movement, he came up with the following questions to guide people in sorting through the junk in their lives. When people gathered for these small group meetings, they would ask each other to respond honestly and openly to how they are doing in each of these areas, holding each other accountable with love, and without judgment.
See how you might do with these questions:
1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I’m better than I really am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?
2. Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?
3. Do I confidentially pass on what was told to me in confidence?
4. Can I be trusted?
5. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work or habits?
6. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying or self-justifying?
7. Did the Bible live in me today?
8. Do I give it time to speak to me every day?
9. Am I enjoying prayer?
10. When did I last speak to someone else about my faith?
11. Do I pray about the money I spend?
12. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?
13. Do I disobey God in anything?
14. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?
15. Am I defeated in any part of my life?
16. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrustful?
17. How do I spend my spare time?
18. Am I proud?
19. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisees who despised the publican?
20. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold a resentment toward or disregard? If so, what I am doing about it?
21. Do I grumble or complain constantly?
22. Is Christ real to me?
These are great questions, which you might choose to make a daily part of your devotional and prayer life.
All of us have junk to sort through. All of us are hoarders, buried alive in thoughts, habits, and perceptions that are blocking the free flow of God’s love in and through our lives. Perhaps there is no better day than National Clean Up Your Room Day to start cleaning up your act, and allowing the power of God to make you more like Christ today than you were yesterday.
The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist