I woke up on a sunny Saturday morning in late April to the sound of neighbors chatting on the stoop next door, dogs barking, and birds chirping in the trees outside my window on my busy street on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
It was spring and the weather was finally beginning to take a drastic turn for the better that encouraged shedding a layer or two, taking a stroll instead of hailing a cab and enjoy a long, casual brunch outdoors. Yet, as I watched the weekend bustle four floors below me, I finally resolved myself to the dreaded, solitary task at hand: SPRING CLEANING…
My entire day was committed to this one activity, and although it tends to be a pretty common practice for most people this time of year, for me the obligation of purging and reorganizing my belongings was born out of sheer necessity. After nine years in the same apartment, I was finally packing myself up and relocating to a new life awaiting me in West Harlem.
Although I was looking forward to the change of scenery, I began to deeply regret my decision moments after pulling every bag, box and suitcase out of my closet and from under my bed and dumping its contents onto the middle of the room, revealing items that dated back 12 years to my college days. How could one person collect so much stuff in one tiny New York apartment? When did I become a hoarder and not even realize it?
No matter how daunting the task, I realized there was no way I was bringing all this clutter with me into a new space. So I created two piles -- “keep” and “discard” and made my way throughout my apartment using my best judgment to determine the true worth of every item I came across. Because let’s be honest, if you haven’t worn it in over a year or, better yet, if you didn’t realize you owned it in the first place, do you really need it? No.
I was a woman on a mission working late into the afternoon, when finally five hours of cleaning and six trips to the local Goodwill Store later, all shelves, closets and drawers were clear. I was able to look underneath my bed and see straight through to the other side and I had eight boxes neatly packed against my living room wall and ready to be transported to my new apartment.
It wasn’t until I dropped to the couch that evening, feeling exhausted and hungry, yet victorious, that I realized this very physical act of preparing for a new season in my life paralleled to my spiritual journey, as God continuous to bring me to new levels in deep companionship with him.
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19
So how can we practically prepare ourselves for a new season? Whether you are a new believer or a veteran in faith, here are four steps to help pave the way for God to make His move:
1. Embrace the Silence
Revelations 3:20 states, “Behold, I stand at the door and continually knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me.” Our personal relationship with God is so special because it’s meant to be unique. God speaks to each of us in different ways, but the question is, are we taking the time to listen? Asking myself this question led me to fast from social media for a month! I was so wrapped up in what was going on in the lives of others around me that the voice of comparison and discontentment was drowning out my own heart’s desires, and more importantly, the discernment and direction from God. Whenever I felt the longing for “virtual connection,” I would force myself to cancel the noise and embrace the silence that helps me to reset my motives.
2. Take Inventory of Your “Obligations”
Many of us hide behind the guise of “busyness.” For some, it gives the illusion of importance to have every hour of our day accounted for by an activity. But when you find yourself feeling haggard day-after-day or in desperate need of a vacation, do you ever ask yourself what you are so busy doing and why you are doing it? As a Christian, I’ve had many seasons where I’ve fallen susceptible to what I like to call the “Martha madness” (Luke 10:38-42). I’ll spend my entire Sunday at church sitting in or serving in multiple services, attend multiple mid-week activities, leading a bible study every Wednesday evening, volunteer every Saturday morning and then whine to God about how tired I am and how hard Christianity is! Over time, I’ve learned to discern exactly what God is requiring of me versus what might make me feel good at the moment or look good to others.
3. Stop Worrying
Yes, I know first-hand that it’s much easier said than done, but the Bible is pretty clear on this one—“Therefore I tell you, stop being worried or anxious about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, as to what you will wear. Is life not more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father keeps feeding them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 And who of you by worrying can add one hour to his life?” Matthew 6:25-27 #TRUTH
4. Love Others & Do Good
There’s a wonderful thing that happens once we come to a true realization that God has a beautiful plan for our lives and we don’t have to have it all figured out, despite your best efforts. We can finally move outside of ourselves and our own desires to a greater purpose that we’re all called to as Christians: sharing God’s love through our everyday words and actions. Some days it may be quite the challenge, but the reward is a supernatural level of freedom and peace that the whole word is unknowingly fighting for today. It’s all encompassing, it’s contagious and best of all, its value can never be stored on a hanging in the back of your closet or stuffed in a box under the bed.