If you live the busy mom life, you know that every day consists of picking up after your kids (or husband). Maybe it’s laundry or toys or dishes, but no one likes a cluttered house. Sometimes, if it gets out of hand, you want to just give up and learn to live with the physical pile up because the thought of cleaning it all seems overwhelming. That’s, of course, never a good solution.
The best solution is to be organized and do your best to keep it that way. You use shelves, buckets, and hampers. You use rules to keep things tidy. Maybe you even take a day to spend on cleaning. If you have people coming over, you want the house to be orderly. The same can be applied to your spiritual house and you can guess who the Guest of Honor is.
Jesus spells it out in Matthew 23, “Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may be clean.” (v. 26) The Lord accuses the Pharisees of looking pious outwardly but being as “dead men’s bones” from their “hypocrisy and evildoing.”
There’s an exercise I’ve done with my Confirmation students, a meditation in which they ‘walk’ through their spiritual houses. It goes like this:
Imagine you are walking through a house. This house is your mind and filled with all your experiences and thoughts and emotions and beliefs.
Walk into the Library. What you read, watch, and take in from the world is contained here. What’s on the shelves? Is anything out on a chair or table? What sights or sounds are in this room?
Now leave the Library and go into the Dining Room or Kitchen (you pick which). These are your appetites and desires. What fills this room? Are you satisfied here? Are you searching for more or are you content?
Now leave and go into the Workshop. These are your skills and talents. What is laid out on the bench? Is it complete and are you happy with it or is there more work to be done?
Leave the workshop and go into the Rec Room. This is your leisure time. What fills this room? Is it loud or quiet? How do you feel in here?
Next, go into the Family Room. Here are your relationships. Who’s in this room? Are there good interactions here or negative? Is anyone invited or is anyone banned from this room?
Before you step out of the house, go to the closet. Here are your hangups. What would you find if you opened that door? Are you willing to?
For the second part of the exercise, you have a House Guest. Jesus is now walking through your spiritual house with you. What would He say in each of the rooms? Would you feel comfortable walking around with Him? He will open the closet at the end of the visit. Will you let Him? Will you allow Him to clean your house?
A messy house (outer or inner) means you can’t find things (memory or train of thought) and may not have a good place to put new things (process experiences). A messy spiritual house keeps us from reaching our most holy potential, that of serving the Lord in the way God wills. We cannot be open to all He has for us unless we’re clean inside first. This means confessing and receiving the Sacraments and living a holy life. (Revelation 22:14)
You may be tempted to just deal with it later, but when is that anyway? The truth is you need to follow the same rules for your inner house as with your physical living space. Otherwise, just like your physical space becomes overwhelming and less usable, your spiritual space can become cluttered and draw us away from His purpose for us. Just as we want to keep our physical houses clean for an unexpected guest, our spiritual houses must always be ready for we know not the hour (Matthew 24:36).