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Heart & Soul: We all need a little spring cleaning

One of the wonderful things about living in San Diego is that the weather is gorgeous all year. Having been born and raised here, I never really understood the significance of the arrival of spring, until my husband and I lived in the Boston area for two winters. When the thermometer finally showed 50 degrees, the people in my office and I wanted to break out the windows so we could let the “warm” air in!

In many places where houses are kept closed all winter, spring cleaning is an annual ritual. Open the windows (maybe for the first time in months) to let the old, stale air out and the fresh air in. Pack up the winter clothes and put them away for a few months. Scrub floors and counters, and go through closets to get rid of clutter.

Think of the word “clutter.” It may sound like the stuff piled in that closet we don’t want to look at, or that junk drawer in the kitchen, or even that whole storage facility full of treasures that we haven’t looked at or used for years (but would swear to anyone that we can’t live without).

In the book “Clutter Busting,” Brooks Palmer says that “clutter includes the things that you hold on to that are no longer useful to you. These things may be worn-out or brand-new, but they are trash because they have lost their value.”

Think of the stuff in your closet. (This seems like a place for a clever comment, about you not being in your closet, but I’m going to try and resist that temptation.) You might have two or three sizes of clothes, with every intention of getting into that smallest size. Do you use those smaller-sized clothes to motivate you to go to the gym and eat more healthy, or do you use them to beat yourself up and remind yourself of your failures? If it’s the latter, rather than the former, those clothes are clutter.

I believe that spring cleaning is important in our hearts, as well as in our homes. I was talking with a friend this week about traditional Christianity’s rantings about homosexuality. Many of us carry shame and guilt as a result of what we were taught in church, which either keeps us in self-defeating behaviors, or keeps us from a relationship with our higher power (God, Spirit, the Universe). If this has been an issue for you, I invite, encourage and even challenge you to open the Bible for yourself, see the historical significance of the Old Testament (recognizing that all it is is history — God giving the Israelites rules so they could and would populate Earth); read about Paul trying to build a church in the New Testament; and feel the words of Jesus in his description of a loving, nurturing God. And by the way, there is no record of Jesus saying anything about homosexuality.

You may have some clutter in your heart about a past experience. You might have made a mess. Believe it or not, pretty much anyone you talk to would tell you, if they were being honest, that they made some sort of a mess. I certainly did. The memories of that mess, the guilt and shame about it, is probably clutter.

The opportunity is for us to open the windows of our hearts, let the fresh air in, forgive what needs to be forgiven (ourselves and others), and create a new story.

Your “story” is what you tell yourself about who you are and what happened. Often your story will determine the choices you make in the future, especially if you are carrying guilt and shame. If your story, consciously or unconsciously, is that you are somehow less than because you are LGBT, your spring cleaning project could be to finally clear that out, in the recognition that Life (God, Spirit, the Universe, your Higher Power) doesn’t love you anyway. Life loves you, period. There is nothing wrong, nothing flawed.

Take care of yourself.

The Rev. Jerry Troyer, a native of San Diego, is the senior minister of Joyful Living Church, a non-denominational New Thought spiritual community. He is the author of the new book, “Coming Out To Ourselves … Admitting, Accepting And Embracing Who We Truly Are. Troyer and his husband, also named Jerry, live in the San Diego area with their golden retriever Roxie. Visit his website HERE.