Along with sorting all the material stuff of my life as part of a transition, I find myself also sorting through emotional and spiritual stuff—and I see just as much evidence of dust and lack of use among that “stuff” as I do when I sort the things, the objects and possessions, that fill my home and workplace.
For I carry old beliefs about who I am that have been present since childhood and are so automatic and ingrained that I may not have given them more than a passing glance in years. My parents impressed upon me a particular identity as one of their six children, an identity that reflected who they wanted me to be and what position they intended for me within our family. Yet I am no longer living as a child within that family system, so the pieces of that identity I still carry clearly do not fit with the person I am at present. Why, then, would I still see myself as that child, still react to situations as that child once did, still define myself within the limits of that child?
I grew up in the Southern Baptist church and learned within that church particular beliefs about human nature, God, and the purpose of life. My spiritual journey has carried me far from those beginnings to my present place of holding a panentheistic view of the Sacred Mystery and my individual soul. Even so, I often watch myself responding to stressful experiences from that original mindset, quick to believe that I have done something wrong which has incurred punishment from the universe. Perhaps if I jettisoned more of those old beliefs, threw them out along with the unwanted possessions I am presently discarding, I might find myself moving through the world more easily.
We talk of the desire to de-clutter our lives: do we also occasionally de-clutter our emotional and spiritual lives, take down the self-images and God images that are dust-covered and have outlived their usefulness, and rid ourselves of them as well? The same sense of being free that accompanies a literal de-cluttering process awaits us when we emotionally, spiritually de-clutter. Many spiritual traditions hold out a life of increased freedom as the blessing that is ours if we are willing to set aside what no longer is meaningful, and move on.