Catholic · Lenten practices

Cleanliness Is Next To Godliness? That Must Be Why My House is a Mess


Dear Anne,

While you were actively pursuing Swedish Death Cleaning, I had cleaning thrust upon me this week, with a side of humiliation. The other day, the furniture repair guy came and took my kitchen cabinet doors and drawer fronts to be refinished. What was I thinking when I decided this would be a good idea? There he was, opening every drawer (even the dreaded junk drawer) to remove the fronts and exposing the insides of my cabinets for the world to see. How humbling to have my housekeeping faults exposed—I think I may have been violated. (And can we talk about people who choose to have glass cabinet doors or even *gasp* glass refrigerator doors? I don’t trust them.)

Mid-clean up. I’m just thankful the spills don’t show in this picture.

So I was forced into a crash kitchen-clean-and-organize binge. I climbed up on the counters to clean out the deep recesses of my cabinets and was on my hands and knees with the magic eraser scrubbing off long-forgotten spills. (Yuck, how did I miss the great molasses spill of 2009?! ) I tossed out spices that had expired in the Bush administration and de-crumbed drawers. Two days and two giant garbage bags later, I felt lighter, happier. I was no longer embarrassed about what went on behind those closed doors and was actually glad that I was forced into my purge. I shouldn’t have been surprised–after all, the correlation between clutter and anxiety is well documented.

I tried that Japanese method of decluttering where you hold each thing and throw it out if if doesn't spark joy. So far I've thrown out my scale, the mirror and the treadmill.

As we head into Lent, it occurs to me this season of prayer and fasting isn’t much different. Just like I needed a kick in the pants (or the cabinets) to clean up my mess, Lent is time set aside (like it or not, ready or not) to straighten up our spiritual messes. A little spring cleaning for the soul, if you will. And when we get Lent right (or even just get it sort-of-right) we feel spiritually unburdened.

This year for Lent I’m focusing on what to do, rather than what to give up, maybe because I’ve been cleaning and purging my house for weeks now. I’m adding a weekly holy hour and starting an examen journal, two devotions I’ve not had much success with in the past. I’ve been praying Dynamic Catholic’s prayer process (their version of the Jesuit examen) on and off for a while but I haven’t put the effort into it I should. My new journal’s version is a little intimidating, but pondering significant moments of my day, and what God is trying to do with them, every day and in writing, should be a good way to open up those metaphoric cabinet doors in my life and see what needs to be cleaned up or tossed out. (And cheaper than therapy!)

My examen journal. Yes, I could do this in my bullet journal, but a shiny new book is motivating. Retail therapy counts as therapy, right? 

So I’m going to look at this Lent like that nice man who came and removed my cabinet doors. He took something away, yes. He exposed things I didn’t want exposed and forced me to deal with things I had shoved away years ago. I could be annoyed, embarrassed or stressed out, but instead I’m going to choose to be thankful for the opportunity for a fresh start. And isn’t that what Lent is about?  So let’s be hopeful and optimistic as we move into this season, that we can see Lent as an opportunity, not a burden. And pray that when we get to Easter, we will feel lighter and at peace, freed from all that s



*Hey folks, follow us on Instagram to see what we will cook up for Busted Halo’s InstaLent challenge 2018! We should be good for a few laughs, maybe a deep thought or two (well, semi-deep). Join in the fun, too–we’d love to see your InstaLent posts!

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