There is something about the month of March that makes me want to simplify, refresh, and renew. As I look at my personal history through the years, I find that this has typically been a month of searching, reflecting, and rebuilding. I think it is partially because I am NOT a winter person—and I know some of you who don’t live in year round sunny California think I really have no idea what winter is, and you are right. I am a California native spoiled with sunshine, so having just a couple months (weeks) where there is rain and fog and temperatures below 50, my internal clock gets sluggish and antsy. I am ready for spring with all its fresh bounty and the whole idea of spring cleaning gets into my head and my bones.
I was in the yard last week inspecting what “winter” has done--all the plants and grasses that are awakening from their winterized state, yet still in disarray. I started to dead head, clip back, and prune and at the same time I saw new growth, new leaves, new buds. It is such a transitional time. I want the old and dead to be gone and the new and fresh to burst with excitement. Yet there is this waiting period that needs to happen as the warm weather slowly heats up and rebirthing season begins. After that time in my yard, I got this urge to purge. After deadheading and seeing new growth, I just wanted to dead head everything in my life. (Beware a menopausal woman with an urge to deadhead). I began looking at the drawers, closets, laundry room, bookshelves, file cabinets in my house and realized how much stuff (translated crap) that we have that takes up space. This is stuff that has been sitting there for years and just gets reshuffled or pushed to the back of the pile or space. I got overwhelmed and a little anxious and stressed and then I began to get physically sick—sick to my stomach and breaking out in sweat. Here I am a person who goes to Uganda year after year and sees people who live in a hut with no bed, no closet, and certainly no storage, and here I am wallowing in stuff. And it isn’t stuff that someone else needs or could use, it is just stuff.
So, I tackled my closet first. You know that rule that says, “If you haven’t worn it in a year you aren’t going to wear it”? I have tried to follow that rule before and then I think, “Well, I wear this in Uganda or I wear this when I go to the snow (which is once every five years or so) or I really should wear this so I will keep it.” I threw out all that thinking this time (pun intended) and ended up with seven garbage bags of clothes I don’t wear and five trash bags of shoes and clothes and junk from my closet. It was freeing, liberating, renewing to do this, even though I had to take a break at least three times because I was so disgusted with myself at all the things I own and I had to walk away from my mess. If that wasn’t enough torture on myself, I then went to our pantry. All the times I hear the boys say, “We have nothing to eat!” and our pantry is filled with staples—bread, peanut butter, rice, soup, canned vegetables, snack chips, waters, Gatorades, and extra water for when that earthquake hits and so much more. We have a refrigerator, a refrigerator in the garage, plus a storage freezer with things at the bottom that I am sure have been there for years. And I have decided that I want to (need to) minimize and simplify in all areas of our life. The next time we say we have nothing to eat, we go to the pantry or the freezer and we eat what we have. It might not be what we are craving or the most delicious thing, but we are getting rid of what we have and not wasting more food or more money. I look at my bank log and realize how much money we spend on frivolous food. We go out to eat or we stop on the way home from youth group or sports and get “fast food” when we could come home and eat an apple or make popcorn or rice. But it is always about convenience and speed.
In my March madness mode of thinking, I am just plain sick at our way of living. I am always saying that we take so much for granted—our home, our conveniences, our cars, clothes, jewelry, comforts, luxuries. And as I think about my yard where the new growth on my hydrangea and hibiscus are just appearing and my closet that has clothes lined up that actually fit without being stuffed in, and my pantry that is filled and yet we still think we “need more”, I think about what Jesus said. “Take up your cross and follow me.” I can’t take my clothes, or my food, or my stuff or my crap or my storage freezer, but I can take up my cross and follow him. And all that other stuff is just that—stuff. It weighs me down, it weighs heavy on my heart, and it makes me someone who relies on things, instead of my Lord and my King. It is March—time to renew and refresh and rebuild. And it starts by throwing away the junk—the materialistic junk that is cluttering our homes and the emotional and mental junk that is cluttering our minds. It is time to deadhead all in our lives that keeps us from bursting into full beautiful bloom.
PS—we are having leftovers tonight.