Fear, Procrastination, Good Stewardship and Spring Cleaning

Spring may seem like the far distant future for some of you. The snow is piled high, temperatures are frigid, and the very thought of spring cleaning may be unseemly and odd at the moment. spring free wallpaper

If so, since you’re stuck inside anyway, it may be the perfect time to consider how fear creates procrastination – and that fear is a liar.

Spring cleaning has a two-fold effect of blessing, it not only lightens the weight of stuff but lifts an even greater weight from your spirit.

Things are seldom as bad as we think. Fear and dread routinely prevent us from moving forward. Did you ever build up the nerve to finally take the plunge only to find the water wasn’t really as horrifically ice-cold as you thought it would be and even a bit refreshing?

Expecting the Worst

Some time back I felt pressured to finally DO something about the great wad of stuff stored on top of our tack room in Rubbermaid containers, trash bags, and boxes.  After selling the ranch we pitched all the extra stuff we didn’t need up there just to get it out of the trailer. It was finally time to climb up and do a thorough spring cleaning.

Procrastination had lengthened the intervening time into weeks, months, and then years. I just didn’t want to take on such a huge project. There were so many other pressing needs – and things I would rather do. So the stuff gathered dust.

The image in my mind’s eye was a pile of stuff looking like a dump truck releasing a full load. Fearing the worst I had postponed this chore for far too long. The time had arrived to gird up and face the challenge.

Out to the barn I went.

My worst fears never materialized. Not only was there no dump truck, but besides the nice assortment of tack and gear, 80% of the stuff in the storage containers was clean bagged horse sheets and blankets.  Once I took the individually wrapped pony clothes out of the Rubbermaids only two small containers remained. Those were also filled with clean blankets. No monsters. Not even a spider.

I felt pretty stupid to have been so paralyzed by fear.

“Too good to throw out”

Okay, so the word paralyzed might be a wee bit hyperbolic. But it kinda tells the story. How many times do we put off doing something because we are afraid of how massive the looming effort appears? Our schedule just never opens up enough to get at that mess. So – we never get to the mess and in the dark corners of our mind it grows larger and more ominous with every passing day.

There are two stumbling blocks to clearing out the clutter in our homes and barns. One is the pile of stuff that is Too good to throw out and the other is the dreadful Maybe I’ll need it in the future pile. Stuff that is too good to throw out should NOT be discarded, but in my experience, seldom is anything ever returned to service from the Future Maybe pile. 

Don’t give in to your fears

In retrospect I shouldn’t have been surprised that the expected tsunami of stuff never materialized. I don’t habitually leave stuff in a mess. That doesn’t mean my house is always clean, mind you, but as a rule I don’t leave piles of stuff behind closed doors. But then again — read on.

Don’t give in to your fears. Open the doors wide and sweep clean that last place you dread to go. Every mess we hang onto, whether in the reality show of our lives or in our imagination, burdens our shoulders and our spirits.

Claim victory from fear today. At the top of my ladder I found an organized stash of good stuff that has since found new homes. After finishing what turned out to be an easy bit of spring cleaning, somehow the sun seemed to shine a bit brighter and I walked out of the barn feeling a bit taller!

Spring Cleaning 2015

My perennial goal is to simplify. Every year I downsize and every year I accumulate complexity and more stuff. You’d almost think it multiplies behind closed doors. The closets and cupboards in the barn we live in are nearly full – AGAIN.

My office closet has a pocket door. Two weeks ago I slid the door open and was accosted by a hula hoop, lined bags of tall English boots, a bridle bag, and a left over roll of blue and white wrapping paper. The closet isn’t even four years old — how did it get this cluttered?

Because it’s all stuff that is too good to throw out. I can’t wear the boots any longer – but they’re really nice boots. The English bridle, breast plate, and martingale are also good quality, yet I’ll never use them again. Good stuff is often wasted in the Maybe I’ll need it in the future pile. I plead guilty.

Life happens. The process of moving from one day to the next, one season to the next, and one year to the next creates bulk. Only the most disciplined among us can maintain complete parity, never adding more than is removed. That counts me out.

Good Stewardship

The requirement for being good stewards of all we possess, whether it’s a horse, dog, or inanimate object has weighed on me since I addressed the concept in my last book.  Clearly I could be a better steward of my stuff. At least I do okay in the critter department.

The “Too good to throw out” and the “Maybe I’ll need it in the future” stuff hides in closets, cabinets, tack rooms and attics. Every minute this stuff spends packed away is a waste. Everything needs to serve, whether it breathes or it does not. My excess stuff needs the opportunity to get back out into the sunlight and be a blessing to someone. So does yours. Being good stewards is an obligation.

Jesus said to His disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and an accusation was brought to him that this man was wasting his goods.” – Luke 16:1

Don’t fear the build up that’s hiding in your home. Release it to someone who needs it.

Don’t procrastinate because you fear the project will overwhelm you. Pick one drawer or one little-bitty closet and begin. Spring is coming.

Spring cleaning not only puts thing that are too good to throw out back in service, but your spirit will lighten as you practice better stewardship.

And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. – Luke 12: 42-43 

It took two hours to clear out and organize my office closet. But (imagine me dusting off my hands and sandals) it’s well organized (again) and a few things have been placed back into useful service elsewhere.

The kitchen island is next…

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