You know when you realize something needs to be done but you really don’t want to do it? That’s how I feel when I have to tackle something like cleaning out my closet. I love cleaning the rooms everyone can see, but I really don’t see the point in focusing on the not so visual parts of my house … like my closet.
I have my own walk-in closet. If I want it to be messy and throw things around, I can. If I want to let my shoes pile up on the floor and throw my clothes over the rack instead of hanging them up, there’s no one there to talk some sense into me. I am free to rule over this tiny space that doesn’t affect anyone but me.
One day in December, I sat on the floor of that tiny little room feeling overwhelmed with where to begin. As I picked things up I had to ask myself, “Do I keep this or toss it?” And if it’s in good condition do I give it away?
I grabbed a basket off the shelf and began sifting through tank tops and t-shirts. I felt a little like a treasure hunter because I found many things I forgot I had. They were buried beneath piles of other things I wore most of the time, and many of the forgotten was in new condition.
What Should I Do?
I came across dresses I wore once, sweatshirts I never wore, and flannels I haven’t touched in months. Should I give them away? But what if I want to wear them again? I stood there trying to imagine what jeans I would pair them with and if I could wear them to teach school on Thursday.
At last, after about three and a half hours, four hundred calories burned (according to my Apple Watch), and four bags of clothes to giveaway (I know … sinful!), I was done!
Now the hard part begins … keeping it clean!
We can learn a lot from cleaning out our closets, and I’m going to be honest and tell you I barely realized the cleaning is easy. It’s the maintenance of the day-in and day-out upkeep that’s hard.
Do you know why? Our closets are small and tedious and have nothing to do with our image. No one sees it. I don’t know about you, but no one comes over to my house and needs to go into my closet for anything, and because I close the door and keep the mess hidden, I can get away with it.
O’kay, so a messy closet isn’t the end of the world. We’re not going to lose friends over the condition of our closet, so no one freak out!
But, if we treat other things in our lives like we do our closet, we are in for an Extreme Makeover Home Edition that ABC is not even ready for. Side note: I’m not sure if that show is still on TV, so if not, let’s just say Chip and Joanna Gaines wouldn’t be able to put enough shiplap over the mess we’re making.
It’s really easy to only take care of the seen. We try and make ourselves presentable on the outside, but what’s going on on the inside?
God cares more for the things that cannot be seen than He does what’s visible.
Back in Jesus’ day, there were religious leaders who had the pretense of being people who did no wrong. They made others believe they had it all together, but Jesus saw past their hypocrisy and straight to the heart. He said to them, “You teach the law, but you are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean” (Matt 23:27).
This is the time of year we’re all trying to clean up and organize our lives. We are asking ourselves hard questions such as what needs to stay and what needs to be thrown out? But what if we’re overlooking the small things that no one sees but are still a part of our lives? What if we focus so much on the appearance of having it all together that we neglect the parts that reveal the kind of person we truly are?
Look, I am all about looking good and keeping up appearances. That’s why it’s my closet that is always in disarray. I also have a blanket closet that needs some help and a junk box on my counter that collects a bunch of who knows what? But, outward appearance is only part of the person. The hidden parts of us reveal who we really are.
Peter says in 1 Peter 3:4, “Let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” I want my life to scream, “I have it all together!!!” I hope everyone who walks into my house says “Wow! Shanda keeps her house clean.” I want people to see my social media pictures and think to themselves, “What a perfect woman!” Meanwhile, I have a massive mess spilling out of my closet and onto the bathroom floor.
The hidden things are much more important to God because they are at the core of who we are. If we can maintain what we think doesn’t matter because it’s not visible, we will be more likely to carefully manage the things that matter most.
When we think about it, our closets are at the heart of who we are. They house the things that reveal our sense of style. The way we present ourselves to the world begins in our closets. And it’s in our closets that we reflect on how we’ve changed over the years, how we’ve outgrown some things that used to fit, and where we need to get rid of some things that no longer belong.