I like my home very neat. It’s a habit, a way of being in my personal space that brings me joy. For whatever reason, clean, uncluttered spaces are calming for me and offer a sense of orderliness in an otherwise chaotic world. To ensure my home remains clean and uncluttered, I have my day-to-day routines, things like making my bed, wiping down my bathroom, and cleaning my kitchen. I also have my weekly routines: washing bed linens, cleaning my entire bathroom, mopping, and vacuuming. On the surface, my home is clean, but then there are times when I schedule a deep cleaning, a spring cleaning, and I move things around only to find crumbs, dirt, and dust just beyond the surface. It takes additional work to move the refrigerator, vacuum under my couch, and wipe down my ceiling fans, but for me, it’s essential work.
Like many others, I have had some extreme ups and downs in the last eight months. Not only within the layers of the world I inhabit as a citizen of this nation but within the layers of my personal life as well. As a child/woman who has endured some particularly violent trauma and used drugs for twenty-eight years to cope, it is imperative that I be mindful of how turbulent times impact me. Like the inner rings of a tree, I, too, have rings, a record of every season held in my mind, body, and spirit, and when the turbulence gets intense, sometimes old injuries begin to ache. This aching, albeit familiar, taught me a new lesson this time, and the ring was the ring of rejection.
In March, I was offered not one, but two fantastic career opportunities that were later rescinded. These weren’t just any jobs; they were next-level positions that would have utilized everything about me. My past life experiences and my position as a clergy person. I felt that all of my work was paying off, but when each organization decided to go in different directions, I began questioning my worth and purpose. I started doubting the work I’ve done to change my life, and from there, the self-talk became extremely toxic. As a result, I was spun spiritually and emotionally out of control. I slowly stopped doing the day-to-day habits that once kept me balanced and moving toward self-actualization. I stopped going to the gym. I stopped eating healthy foods and reverted to comfort foods. I stopped reading and writing. I stopped meditating, and for five weeks, I was sitting on my couch, lost.
The issue was more profound than me just not getting a job; it was the pain of having the door of opportunity swing wide twice and then slammed in my face–twice. I felt as if my purpose and joy had been run down and hogtied by self-doubt and despair. It was the pain of releasing the hope I had, for a moment, to earn enough money to move beyond survival mode to financial freedom. At this point, I was unemployed, my car was in the shop, and my bank account was low. Honestly, I was angry. I had been trusting God and doing the work, not in pursuit of perfection but with a sincere desire for growth and freedom. I had been showing up for my life, family, and community. Through my tears, I railed against God. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong and why it seemed I was doomed to struggle.
And then, one evening, as I was wiping down my kitchen counter, my dishcloth pulled some crumbs forward from beneath the microwave. So I pulled the microwave out, and as I cleaned the crumbs untouched by my day-to-day cleaning, I received this message in my heart… There are seasons when you will endure experiences that expose the crumbs, dirt, and dust in your composition that are hidden just beyond the surface. These experiences can feel disruptive and painful, but the intention is never to simply cause you pain. This experience was painful because it exposed you to a professional level of rejection you had not experienced before, and there can be no healing without exposure. Healing happens in seasons, not sessions. The larger your dreams become and the more you accomplish, the harder rejection will feel, and you cannot throw yourself away because of it. Yes, these experiences disrupted old day-to-day routines and inspired tearful, perhaps angry self-reflection, but all of that was to initiate a spiritual spring cleaning. You need to know that when these organizations decided to go in a different direction, it had nothing to do with your worth or purpose. It is imperative that you know who you are and what you’ve been called to do because the world will not always affirm that for you. This turbulence was not about the career opportunities being rescinded, it was about exposing how fickle your confidence is.
The crumbs, dirt, and dust provide a loose analogy, and it has nothing to do with being perfect or imperfect; that’s not the point. Instead, they are symbolic of areas within me that may go untouched by my day-to-day rituals of faith and self-care, and it took some upheaval to expose them. I don’t want to throw away life-giving practices when I hit a bump in the road. I don’t want to sulk and question my worth and purpose just because I experience rejection. This season of despair taught me that my rituals of faith and self-care can’t just comfort me; they must challenge me to do the hard things, to continue to lift and look under the traumatic events that have shaped my life. As I continue to grow in my understanding of what recovery and success look like, I am learning that just as spring cleaning is essential to the climate of my home, spiritual spring cleaning is essential to the stability of my mind and spirit.
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