Saturday I cleaned out another big chunk of mess from my room. Yes, still working on the one ROOM. How did I let so much mess accumulate, I have been wondering, in my house and in my life? The answer is by exercising an overdeveloped talent for avoidance and denial. I just don't see how much junk comes in and starts piling up. So, I tackle the clean up in pieces because it is overwhelming. After I do some of it, there's a long break before I do more. In that time, I am exhausted, and feel that I can't face taking on the next piece.
I realized too that fear holds me back from working through the whole job. When my room, for example, is emptied of the clothes I will never wear again, the things that belonged to a marriage that is over, the superfluous knickknacks, will I have excavated simplicity and beauty? Or will it just be empty? I am terrified, and I mean that quite literally, almost shaking, that when I get rid of the mess of my life there will be nothing left.
Our greatest pretenses are built up not to hide the evil and the ugly in us, but our emptiness. The hardest thing to hide is something that is not there. -- Eric Heffer
Without the struggle I am used to having, what is my purpose? The fear is that I will find that at bottom I am without purpose, and that I am essentially incompetent at life. No wonder I have been sliding back into escapism lately. That's a big fear. But any fear, like a demon, starts losing its power once it is named. Even Jesus asked first, of a particularly troublesome demon "What is your name?" before He drove it out (Luke 8:30). I don't have much success with overcoming fear or any other proverbial demon, without specifically identifying it first.
Meanwhile the work is to remember who I am and what my work is, underneath the accumulated confusion and mess. Despite the fear, my faith is that I will find something good about this life.
Change occurs when one becomes what she is, not when she tries to become what she is not. --Ruth P. Freedman