Hello Spring! It’s nice to be with you again, even if our connection is spotty for a while. One of my favorite comedians is Jim Gaffigan and he jokes about Spring:
It’s not always winter. There’s Spring, people love Spring. That’s a fun day.
What a lie Spring is, right? I use to spend the entire Spring waiting for it to be Spring:
‘Is it Spring?’ No it’s snowing. ‘Is it Spring?’ No it’s 90 degrees.
I guess we missed those tiny white flowers.”
I don’t want to miss Spring, or Spring cleaning in my home — but what I really don’t want to miss is another day without peace because my soul is over-crowded with messages that have no business in my space! A soul cluttered up with wrong beliefs that either need to be repurposed or trashed for good is not a pleasant soul to live in — so friends it’s time to do some Soulful Spring Cleaning! (And we’ll touch the messes in our homes too!)
This month I’m going to go through at least 4 main spaces in my home and apply the SWAP method. Kendra Adachi (a.k.a. “The Lazy Genius”) coined the term and the method in her course entitled The Swap – which is temporarily retired but if you follow her you can get the news first when she offers it again. I know, I’m such a tease. And it will be worth getting for yourself — I’m not giving away her brilliance in this monthly discussion, that would make me a jerk.
I’ll whet your whistle for more of The Swap, but I will share what I’m learning as I move through my home and my soul with intention! If you want to try the Marie Kondo method, go for it! I like her help with clothing! If there’s another Spring Cleaning/Home Organization method you’d like to try now, knock yourself out! There are so many out there! We can share a cleaning journey with you and would love to hear what you are doing as well as how it’s going – we love learning and sharing good information!
As for my soul cleaning, I’ll also identify one major space in my soul where I’m locked up, looping, losing hope or low in the joy department. I’ll give you an example here shortly, but I want to take the time to move through one space at a time to consider what is happening there versus what I want to be happening there.
Make sense? Well if not, hang in there with me a little longer.
Before we get to the first room in my home, and the first space in my soul that is in the greatest need for my best attention, let me tell you that even picking these spaces was a challenge! I was in a state of complete overwhelm by all the rooms and all the spaces that need help. Where do you begin when messes seem piled up in every direction? In your home and your heart! Do you feel this way this month? If your weekly schedule and closest relationships are in even greater disarray than your home, consider going through our “main things” series on priorities last month first. It can help you feel a little roomier in your soul, and then you can make space on your planner for the piles in your home! To do this clearing away today I had to clear the space on my calendar for 3-4 hours with childcare, but a nap time can work too if you get kiddo’s involved in the project when they wake up!
So, assuming you’ve cleared the space to clear your space this week, let’s get to it!
HOME || what room do I spend the most time in that has the biggest impact on my joy?
Hands down for me: my kitchen.
As I listened to the rooms of my home my kitchen was barking the loudest, so this is where I’ll start.
To be fair, I don’t do a lot actually “with” my kitchen, I just do a lot “in” my kitchen. I’m not much for cooking, Grizz enjoys that much more than I do — but my favorite spot in the house is by the coffee machines (because it is a they). I enjoy being where my people are, and they are usually in my kitchen. It’s the first major room our family enters in the side of our home, and the last room we see as we go into the world. The traffic is high as you have to walk through it to get to every other room in the house. It also opens into the living room so we still experience it when we are reclining (literally) unless we close our eyes.
But as I intentionally turned my attention to my kitchen I was still overwhelmed by the size of the project! I’ve neglected it for so long! Some of the issues take more than what I can do in an afternoon, or ever, or exceed this month’s budget. Some of what I want in my ideal kitchen will need to go on my kitchen wish list — so today I started one. As I sat on a chair and looked around the space I thought about how I wanted to feel and move in this space, what I wanted to see and smell, experience and do. It is luxurious to think on such things, to have any space covered and safe at all is such a privilege that I do not take for granted (at least not now). But it wasn’t that I needed some grand renovation necessarily to enjoy my kitchen more (though some notes were made on my wish list!). What I really longed for was cleared space and a few lovely touches, and that was something I could move toward immediately.
I remembered what Tsh Oxenreider says to do when you feel overwhelmed and don’t know how to begin simplifying your home: throw out 100 things. That’s right, either trash them or put them out for a donation delivery (in the car). Just get them out, 100 of them.
I’d just add: before bed. Creating a deadline adds a sense of urgency that just helps me keep going! The bliss of knowing I will lay my head down with a task complete is worth the focus! In this case I set a timer because I knew I had to be done much earlier than bedtime, so I hollered out for Alexa to play Vivaldi and let the strings play me a racing theme.
With several 14-gallon lavender Febreze scented garbage bags in strategic locations near the kitchen I set out to collect 100 items: trash bag, donate bag, and an “offer this to others” bag (Marie Kondo would not recommend giving your unwanted stuff to others because it has a sneaky way of finding it way back into your home). We’re celebrating progress today — not perfection over here.
I chalked out tally marks for the items I cleared out. With each set of 5 marked off I could feel my home and soul inch closer to a more peaceful space. There’s just something about this “drop and give me 100” concept that activates your brain and body into purpose! I snapped out of my overwhelm and somewhere around #40 I started to gain vision and hope for what the space could become!
I ended the home part of this project in a much better place than I started. When I first started thinking about this project on Easter Sunday, I immediately began to dread this blog post and all future blog posts, ever. I hated sitting down to write because I hated thinking and coming up short. I hated feeling like a failure before I even got started.
SOUL || Like my kitchen, the line of thinking barking loudest in my soul was unmistakable:
Fear of failure.
I just submitted the final edited manuscript to the publisher on Friday for my book. It was a monumental achievement in a season of my life when I couldn’t imagine getting anything finished well. But just 24 hours before the manuscript was due we had some upsetting news hit our family, and for a few seconds the thought of scrapping the entire project – book and blog and future ideas – flitted across my mind. We would have to dig deeper yet in order to faithfully stick the landing on the project — and we did. Courage is done with fears sticking the landing with you though, and I didn’t sleep for the next two nights. A friend of ours was congratulating my husband on me getting the book deal, he was kind with his encouragement but then he got serious and asked Grizz, “But how is she handling the fear of it possibly being a big failure?”
Goodness, I hadn’t considered that! (eyeroll)
Grizz laughed and was honest, “That’s something she has to work through until she is able to surrender it back to God — every single day.”
Every. Single. Day.
This is how fear of failure works for me, it’s something I face in some way, in some line of thinking, every single day – like my kitchen. Rejection, condemnation, inadequacy, people pleasing, trying to live up to real or perceived expectations (set by me or others). I bet you feel its effects fairly regularly as well.
So this week I’m spending a little extra time moving through this one line of thinking – fear of failure. Slow and steady, I’m just walking through this space in my soul that gets cluttered up with perfectionism, with feelings of inadequacy all because of failure’s threat to sabotage my identity.
If only I could go through my mind and simply throw out thoughts that don’t support my ideal soul – a soul that is peaceful, joyful, calm, trusting, nurturing, loving, faithful, relaxed, and so on. While we will reject thoughts as unhelpful or untrue, dismissing them is short-lived. They return! Instead we have to disable them, take them apart until they cannot operate in our minds any longer. Scripture calls this “renewing your mind” (Romans 12:2) and we can call it that too. This week I am taking thoughts about my performance in relation to my identity to God in prayer, I’m looking at Scripture with this lens in mind and am listening for new ways to think about this in my quiet time and with podcasts like I’ve shared here before.
Barb Raveling has great resources for renewing your mind (including podcasts!) that I’ve used over the last several years too! There is one that I have used often so I pulled it out today to help me sort through fear of failure. I use her APP under the same name as her book: I Deserve A Donut. You read that right. It’s specifically designed for people who tend to eat for reasons not related to hunger (which is part of my story), like entitlement for example (hence, I Deserve A Donut). The APP version is cheap and worth much more than you’d pay if you bought everything she has published. It’s a mind renewal tool to help you slow down and identify what is truly going on in your mind – to capture your thoughts and not move mindlessly into an eating episode.
So using this resource this is what I did with the space in my soul that is afraid of failure (on the APP you’d find these questions by going to Emotions –> Insecurity –> Self-Condemnation):
Why do I think I’m a failure (terrible person, loser, inadequate for the tasks before me)?
I look to the success I see in others (that I have measured in terms of family dynamic, beauty, income or followers) and see a difference in what I “produce” so I conclude that I’m failing. Failing at being a writer, a parent, at being a “good spouse” or just a human being.
Does that really make me a failure? Why or why not?
Well, it may mean I have less influence today or less popularity with crowds but it doesn’t make me a loser. And it certainly doesn’t mean I’m not experiencing “success” in God’s terms! Success was marked by faithfulness among the people identified in Scripture, Hebrews 11 is a record of what we now refer to as “heroes of the faith” — but they hardly felt like heroes at the time! Several experienced major moral failure of some kind, and all of them fell short of God’s perfect standards on a regular basis. Their faith in God was what earned them commendation, regardless of how they failed in relationships or in creating something of meaning. God gives value to me, He calls me His child, I am of incredible worth to Him just because I exist, so I cannot be a loser if He wants me as-is. What I do or don’t do will not change who I am, including if I become more known or influential someday — that too doesn’t add to who I am. I don’t have to manage my brand in order to own my worth.
Whose standards am I using to determine whether or not I’m acceptable? What does God think of those standards?
I’m using this world’s standards that measure worth based on production, fame, income, reach, likes, followers and branding. God is not concerned with consumer trends, I’m His artwork and He is well-pleased. His standards for my acceptance have been satisfied with Jesus, so I am completely accepted by God. I belong. I can “fail” at every endeavor, make misguided choices in relationships, I can lose out on opportunities and have no following in this life and still be a priceless treasure to God!
How does God feel about me? (See the verses below for more ideas too!)
When God sees me He sees His Son covering me, so He is fully pleased! He delights in me, He made me with strengths and quirks that fit me and the purpose He has for me. God is not angry at me like I can get at myself for not being perfect, God knows my weaknesses and loves to fill them with His power. God is eager to be with me and wants to connect everyday, throughout the day. God does not get tired of me, I’m not “too much” for Him, He can take all I bring to the table.
In what areas do I need God’s help? Take time to ask Him help me in these areas.
Barb shares how God is not a condemning perfectionist parent. He’s a loving Father who says, “Come to me, my beloved, and let me help.” I noticed that I needed help with some technology and marketing issues related to writing, and that God had put experts right in front of me to help me if I would simply release my need to control everything.
Is there anything I need to accept?
I cannot control what others think of me. This is the beauty and the challenge of independent wills! Statistically 10% (or more) of people will not like us or what we create or say or do, so I may as well accept that in every room of 10 or more someone is not going to like me or anything about me. I can accept that this is a fact while at the same time also accept that I am perfectly loved and enjoyed by my Father and a good number of other people too! Some people are even going to wish me harm and say hurtful things to damage my name and steal my joy, I have a real enemy who hates my God and me, so I accept too that there will be trials I will need to face with others. God is a real help in trouble though, He hears my cries for help and delivers me from all my fears according to Psalm 34.
Is there anything God wants me to do?
Get rid of 100 things in my kitchen area and bring my fear of failure to Him through this mind-renewing exercise!
What can I thank God for in this situation?
So much actually! I’m reminded of how blessed I am to have a home at all, to have a home with more than one room in it, to have a roof, to have a kitchen with appliances and food in the fridge and cabinets (more than we need!) I’m humbled by how kind God has been to me even in the midst of my lack of gratitude for His blessings and gifts, and am drawn to repent of my complaining, repent of my discontentment and instead give thanks for the mouths that get fed in this space, the traffic that flows in our home, the many things in our space that came from money we had the opportunity to earn through our businesses, the physical energy to clean my home, the truth of God’s Word to lean on in the midst of my fears, the open relationship I have with God and the free exchange of feelings and worries with Him, and so much more!
Barb then reminds us of the reality of our thought life, that there are some things we will need to accept and things we will need to confess before we move on in a new thought.
Possible things I’ll need to accept: I’ll never be as good as I want to be, others will see my imperfections just as I see their imperfections. I’ll fail sometimes. Everyone does, I may as well get use to it!
Possible things I’ll need to confess: I’ve condemned someone God loves (me!), and I’ve given myself permission to give up when I feel overwhelmed because I feel like a failure. I also am defining “success” in terms that God may not be defining “success”, and I’ve made my version of “success” more important than God wants me to make it.
Here are some verses that can help guide you with fear of failure, but if this is a big soul buzz-killer for you, consider going through Scripture looking for verses in your own time too:
- For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23
- But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
- For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. Galatians 1:10
- Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1
- For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6
- Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. 2 Corinthians 5:9
So this week I’m giving you 101 changes you can make before going to bed:
(1) Get rid of 100 items in a room (could be adjoining rooms); and,
(2) Clear out 1 soul-cluttering line of thinking with truth.
There are more rooms and spaces to de-clutter for sure, but for now I think I’m just going to sit here and enjoy the quiet clutter-free space God helped me make in my kitchen. I’m also going to linger in giving thanks that failing at relationships or in enterprise has no power over changing who I most truly am – a woman loved deeply by God.
So don’t judge, but I may get dressed in here this week too. I can hear my closet barking…