When you hear the word “Spring” what images come to your mind? Budding trees? Birds singing? Beautiful flowers? Sunshine and rain? Many things probably come to mind but there is one unmistakable image that is associated with Spring – new life. Many people engage in “spring cleaning” during this season, in essence bringing “new life” to their homes. I am wondering how many of us need to do some of our own “spring cleaning” of our inner lives? Some people tend to “stuff” their feelings, never dealing with old wounds, instead stockpiling years’ worth of feelings. Others get stuck in negative counterproductive thinking, effectively bringing any growth to a halt. Still others of us have simply become complacent. Do you ever get the feeling you’re living the movie Groundhog Day? The main character in that movie relives the same exact day over and over again. The interesting thing is that as he begins to realize this, he makes little changes each time to try to alter the outcome and get unstuck. I believe many of us need to get unstuck this Spring. In John 10:10, Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” Are you living life more abundantly or is it time to do some soul cleaning?
The first step in this spring cleaning of our inner lives is some honest examination of ourselves. Where are the rooms in our souls that we have locked tight and desperately need to expose to the light? What feelings have we buried in hopes they might never resurface? What negative thoughts do we keep replaying in our minds? What resentments are we holding on to and who do we need to forgive? Most importantly, what parts of ourselves have we kept hidden (as if that were possible) from God? Once we have taken an honest inventory of our soul condition, the real work begins. We must throw some things out, repair others, and replace some things. Through prayer and meditation, we need to ask God to reveal to us those things which we need to throw out. Granted, we may not like the answer at times, but remember, this is spring cleaning and some things must die for new growth to begin. So this means it’s time to prune away those things which have no place in us: old hurts; resentments; judgments; envy; malice; bitterness; etc. As we turn these things over to God, we can surrender all these things that have marred our inner lives.
The next step in spring cleaning/soul cleaning is repairing broken things. This may mean repairing broken relationships; broken trust; broken dreams; or any number of things. Most repairs of the heart require collaboration and communication. Having a trusted friend, pastor, or counselor to aid in this process can be helpful. We need to have honest communication, be open to feedback, and be willing to “tweak” some things about ourselves if these repairs are to last. Once the repairs have been completed, it is important to treat these once broken things with special care.
Lastly, an important element of spring cleaning of our inner lives is replacing those things which can’t be fixed. This may mean we have to give up certain relationships, certain vices, certain habits. We may grieve over the loss of some of these but we must remember that God works for the good of all those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28, emphasis mine). So this is really a matter of trust and faith. As we throw out the old, repair the broken, and replace the obsolete, we will find we are growing and becoming clean inside. Words one might associate with a spring “clean” might be “fresh,” “sparkle,” “emerge,” “new.” I hope that this Spring as we do some “soul cleaning,” we will find that our inner lives are new and fresh. When we interact with others, maybe they’ll notice a sparkle and see us emerge from a once dark place.

[Originally written May 2008]

Author's Bio: 

Lori Payne is a Licensed Professional Counselor & Supervisor who specializes in working with teens. She has worked in residential, outpatient, & school settings over the past 13+ years & currently has a private practice. Additional specialties include self-injury & substance abuse. Lori seeks to assist teens in finding their voice & identity while creating a healthy, vibrant path. She also enjoys working with adults & families dealing with various life issues. Lori's main purpose is to make a difference.