“You have been treated generously, so live generously.” – Matthew 10:8 (The Message)
It’s April, which means it is time for me to clear out some of the junk. Last year during this season of Lent, I looked through my closets, drawers, cabinets and under the beds to find things that needed to go. It was all excess, unnecessarily cluttering my life even though it much of it was out of sight. It felt good to get rid of it and not because I was on an organizing kick, but because I want to learn more of what it means to let it go and give it up.
During Lent, I’m told that I should give up something up to focus more clearly on the sacrifice of Jesus. I didn’t give anything up, but instead I have spent this time re-committing myself to continuing what I determined to give up this time last year:
While last year I mostly wrote about clearing out the exterior clutter, throughout the year I have also tried to focus on clearing out the interior clutter. I’ve also learned more about what that means, and doesn’t mean.
Everyone has interior clutter. We have been created to desire freedom, peace, and extravagant love. We have all of this offered to us, yet we muck up the inside of ourselves with the kind of crap I found under my beds and at the back of my closet. Much of the time, the interior clutter is unseen and unacknowledged, but it’s there, clogging up the empty spaces that could be filled with something more useful. Or perhaps those spaces could be left empty. We all know that we could use more free space in our lives, especially on the inside. What was under my beds and in my closets was mine, just as my interior clutter is mine. I can’t say what yours is, but what follows is a sampling of Lisa’s junk.
Me-ism (that’s my word for self-centered, self-absorbed, selfishness)
It gets messy in there. As much as I would like to someday proclaim that I have “conquered” any of the clutter listed above, it won’t happen in this lifetime. I will always struggle with each of these to varying degrees. So during this season of Lent, I didn’t pick something on the list and vow to give it up. I’m not that naive. The best I can do is realize, once again, that it is all there, and on certain days it still makes a big mess on the inside of me. So instead of giving something up, I’ve been focusing on how I can live generously, because I’ll share a little secret that’s worked for me: living generously does wonders to naturally clear out the interior clutter.
It also helps usher in that peace and freedom I desire. And even though I know this, it often takes extra effort for me to live generously. The other day, a friend and I made a very quick list of simple acts of generosity we could do in a given day to make a difference for someone else. We did this not because we were setting out with a plan, but because we were confused at why we so rarely actually do these things. If they are so simple, why do I come to the end of the day having touched no one around me with a simple act of generosity? Why do I allow my busy days to crowd out the very acts that would clear out some of my restlessness, cynicism, me-ism?
You won’t find a foolproof plan at the wrap-up of this blog post. I’m still working through it. But I am struck by the words of Jesus to his disciples: “You have been treated generously, so live generously.” I can think of no better example of being treated generously than what we celebrate on Easter morning. And yet, what will my response be? To dress fine, sing resurrection choruses, proclaim He is Risen, and then return to my busy life on Monday morning, forgetting that I am to mirror that kind of generosity. Will I remember that I have been created to pour myself out, not collect more interior clutter; that I am to give freely without judgement; that I am to love everyone without putting them in camps where I can decide who is worthy and who is not. Am I ready for that kind of generosity?
So begins a week of busyness. I can’t stop that train, but I will fill in some of the free moments with a trek through my closets, drawers, cabinets, and under my beds to once again ferret out more exterior clutter. It’s there, some of it hidden and some of it in plain sight, but all of it clogging my desire to live simply so that others may simply live. I’m throwing out a challenge for you to do the same. Then, together, let’s do something with our junk that might make a huge difference for those who are struggling to simply live. And on the way to Easter morning, let’s find those simple acts of generosity that we can give to those around us.
Let’s clear the clutter together.
Are you in?