Cleaning House

I have said it many times, but I feel it always bears repeating, and at this time it seems particularly appropriate: there is never a need to wonder where God is, or to engage in a desperate search for God. God has this uncanny ability to manifest in the most unexpected and unlikely of places and circumstances when we least expect, and especially if and when we find ourselves needing to reach a new plane of spiritual growth yet have not taken the time to do the evaluation and introspection to do so. Sometimes – at least more often than not – some event or situation which we might initially perceive as a terrible inconvenience or pointless waste of our time, usually the type of occurrence that we can not at first see any rational reason for can lead to some astounding personal epiphanies. At the very least, it can create a prime opportunity for us to address issues which might have been restraining us from a greater sense of spiritual growth and well being.

Someday, when I have the time and the opportunity to look back and reminisce about interesting, memorable but unfortunate and highly disruptive yet slightly comical in retrospect events that have occurred in the Campbell household, I have a suspicion that “The Great Meal Moth Infestation of October 2008” will be one for our record books. I am assured that someday we will all be able to look back on it and laugh at the absolute nightmare, akin to something out of a low budget horror film that was created from an old and forgotten box of discount Raisin Bran that expired, was left unsealed, and never got cleaned out of the pantry but instead got pushed behind and hidden in the back; but at the moment, it’s a shade too soon for that.

If you’re not familiar with the common household “pantry pest” known as the Indian Meal Moth, plenty of information on these enigmatic and tiny yet persistently annoying members of the insect catalogue of God’s Creation can be located by a simple web or image Google search. You can easily find photos of the moths themselves, and the extremely creepy and unsettling larvae that they grow from that look all too similar to tiny oozing maggots. Take a look at some of the photos – and then imagine coming back from being out of town and finding thousands of them all over your kitchen, dropping unexpectedly off the ceiling, crawling in all the food in the pantry, and completely freaking out the cat.

It started out somewhat innocuous; I had opened a box of cereal about a month ago and on the side of the box noticed a tiny whitish-gray worm with a black head. Assuming it was just the cereal past the expiration date, we just threw the box out and didn’t think too much of it, aside from no longer shopping at the questionable market where it had been purchased on a whim. It was a discontinued product which we couldn’t locate at any of the usual haunts we frequent for groceries, Costco or WalMart and found at a closeout place.

About a week after that, I noticed the cat going crazy chasing a little moth with two color wings on more than one occasion. As with the worm, we figured it was just a freak occurrence of pests getting in from outside and thought the cat would take care of the one or two that had somehow managed to successfully invade the house from outside. Besides, we were about to leave on vacation for a few days, and arrived at the decision to possibly contact a pest control service upon returning if the issue had not naturally resolved itself as it usually does should we find a spider having crept in while a door was open lurking in the top corner of the shower or on the living room wall or a silverfish darting across the counter when we bring in the junk newspapers.

Upon arriving home after being away for an exhausting few days in the first part of October, the first sign that something was wrong was the appearance of about five of the little white worms crawling across the kitchen counter, and several of the moths flitting about the house, and the cat being a bit agitated. Naturally, the initial response was to eliminate the worms, and implement the flyswatter at the few moths the cat had not disposed of (in some sort of bizarre manifestation of the food chain in action). But about an hour later, several more of the worms had appeared on the kitchen counter as well as on the pantry and refrigerator door, and I nor my girlfriend could not for the life of us determine where in the world these unsavory invaders were coming from.

And that’s when I looked up at the kitchen ceiling and discovered the source. As it turns out, the answer was right in front of, or rather, above us.

Literally thousands of the worms were squirming all over the kitchen ceiling, and up in the corners where the walls connect with the ceiling, there were more as well as cocoons and freshly hatched moths perched. They were everywhere, and every so often one of the worms would drop down and crawl across the counter. It was disturbing and disconcerting to say the least.

I half expected my girlfriend to freak out, but I should have known better (being that she does not share my inherent bug fears.) Her response was, “Well, find out what they are, and then we either liberate them to the outdoors or send them to a better place.” Even in my state of revulsion of the current state of the kitchen, I found this amusing and we both had a laugh over it, and went online to see what type of alien insect we were dealing with, and of even more relevance, how in the world we were supposed to get rid of them.

That’s when I discovered that thankfully, they were not a danger to us or to the cat, but on a not as positive note, they were difficult to get rid of, there was likely a large nest of them somewhere in the kitchen, and it meant doing a deep and intensive cleaning to get them out and keep them out that essentially entailed getting rid of anything that was not securely sealed in metal or solid plastic. The online research yielded that in the fall, the larvae would feed and then migrate up to the ceiling to pupate into the moths – and the cycle would begin again if they laid eggs again. The key was finding the nest and cleaning it out as quickly as possible and then doing the preventative maintenance to keep them from returning. About the closest annoyances I can think of offhand that I could compare them to are Kudzu if you are from the Southeast (once it takes root, it takes over everything) or Gypsy Moth caterpillars if you are from the Northeast (certain times of the year, they are all over everything everywhere and nearly impossible to get rid of).

So we began the process. Getting the ceiling clean involved scraping a Swiffer across the ceiling and then scooping them all up, yet it would fill up with the worms again later. This also involved having to do the ceilings and corners of the rest of the house as they had begun to migrate to other rooms. Unfortunately, any food that was not canned or sealed had to go, and even some boxes that had been sealed were not safe as these little vermin had chewed their way inside. It was quite an ordeal cleaning the kitchen and the pantry, including opening an old bag of cat food to see a moth fly out, finding insects inside a yet unopened box of chocolate (talk about “never knowing what you’re gonna get,” indeed!), and finding a spider web full of moth husks (along with a rather large and well fed spider which I felt guilty for swatting in a sudden and uncontrollable fit of arachnophobia, as it had probably helped to get rid of a lot of the moths) hidden behind a section of a counter which had not been cleaned out for a while. It was if our kitchen had developed its own unique ecosystem in microcosm.

As is often the case when one is attempting to seek out, pinpoint and eradicate or resolve the source of a challenging problem or bug (every pun intentional there), it would figure that there was that old and forgotten box of discount, cost cutter Raisin Bran, which not only had expired long ago, but had been left open and gotten buried under the regular food in the pantry. Neither she nor I was certain how it got left back there. There were a few of the larvae around it, and the box looked like there was something wet inside it – not what one would expect from old, dry cereal. It had to be the source – it was the last box.

I picked it up cautiously, and opened it to find the entire box squirming and overflowing with the slimy larvae and with one of the most horrific odors I have ever had the displeasure of experiencing – I had found the source of the problem. I got it out of the house as quickly as possible, dumping it in a Hefty Bag and we finished cleaning out the pantry as well as all of the food in the kitchen. To compound matters of the entire situation further, upon opening the refrigerator, we realized that it had ceased cooling and all of the food in there had gone bad as well, so that meant that everything in there had to go too. That was an absolutely terrible feeling, as I hate to be wasteful when many go without something to eat, but there was nothing that could be done but move forward and recover with a valuable lesson learned.

Although they had infested and contaminated just about everything in the kitchen, I knew I had discovered the main “nest” in the Raisin Bran box, as when I went outside to take out the garbage, the Hefty Bag was covered in thousands of the larvae attempting to escape. I put on my gloves, we threw everything out, and proceeded to scour the kitchen while we thoroughly cleaned the house and waited for them to come and fix the ailing and messy refrigerator.

It was a long 13 or 14 hour process in total (and that is with 4 people working on it), including the mishap of breaking my glasses while up cleaning the kitchen corners and having to get those fixed until I could get them replaced as well. We got them all cleaned out, the kitchen deep cleansed, and the refrigerator fixed and set about replenishing the kitchen, pantry and refrigerator and freezer with a trip to the warehouse store, including being cautious to focus on what was needed rather than too many “impulse” buys, checking expiration dates, and purchasing some solid containers guaranteed to assist in the prevention of a reintroduction or re manifestation of the moths. They either have pre laid eggs in boxes of expired food, one can get in the house and get into food if it is left open and unsealed (as can happen occasionally when you get in a hurry), and they especially like to get into old food-like the offending Raisin Bran we found them in-and lay eggs. Lots and lots of them. Thankfully, the house is like new and we didn’t have to move (a very good thing, especially given the current state of the economy) and things have returned to normal.

Sure, since then we have gotten what we refer to as the occasional “straggler” larvae that had hidden in a crevice somewhere and which we quickly get rid of, or a moth that hatched from one of them that either the cat or that old standby of do it yourself domestic pest control, the flyswatter, usually makes rapid work of, but just a few short weeks later, the house is thankfully clean once again, the fridge runs beautifully for the moment, and everyone feels much better around here. It’s like having a brand new home, gives you a fresh outlook.

I know it sounds like a terrible ordeal – and it was – but in the grand scheme of life, things like this are the “small stuff” to me, no matter how challenging the situation they present becomes. As upsetting as the whole experience was, I would far prefer that to a loved one or my cat being ill, or a friend or loved one facing misfortune or a personal tragedy – so in perspective, it remains one of those horribly inconvenient and unpleasant yet far from insurmountable ordeals. However, it did yield an excellent learning experience on several levels and simultaneously resulted in the manifestation to an answered prayer in the end.

You might be reading this and asking yourself that besides being somewhat appropriately timed for Halloween in its gruesome aspects, illustrating the importance of proper food storage and housekeeping, and offering too much information about a nightmarish pest control experience that you may or may not have wanted to know about, what does this cautionary tale about food storage, home pest control nightmares, and thousands of squirming bugs infesting everything have to do with a developing and maintaining a clean heart or spirit and a healthy sense of oneness with God? Surprisingly, quite a bit, metaphorically speaking, and especially after I had some time to think about it.

As I stated at the outset, I have always known and been assured constantly through my own life experience as well as that of those around me that God shows up in what we might initially consider the most unlikely of places and or circumstances, but once again, God was just as much here as everywhere, and this experience was a wake up call I needed to have. Just as we needed to clean out and get rid of something old that had been gradually festering and developing into a very serious problem, I still needed to rid myself of old and unhealthy ideas about God that silently had been collecting and laying eggs in my subconscious mind and creating issues and problems in my life – not a bit unlike the way our recent unwelcome pantry pests had done with that old and forgotten box of discount cost cutter Raisin Bran.

All too often, we get what we refer to as a “fresh start,” a “new beginning,” “turn over a new leaf,” (insert your personal favorite euphemism here) by developing a fresh and new outlook, but we neglect to really dig deep, and give our hearts, souls and subconscious a really deep cleaning in the process. As a consequence, all too often we will stuff away unresolved negative ideas, feelings and issues and forget about them, they take root in our subconscious and create infestations of a different variety later on when we might least expect them to.

Many times when we think of the Psalm (or the hymn based upon it) to “Create in me a clean heart” it may initially conjure thoughts of the whole “being born again” catch phrase, which, as with many others, seems to have been hijacked in popular culture and relegated strictly to the domain of conservative or fundamentalist, legalistic Christian thought.

For the LGBT person, this is all too often manifested as “healing” from something as natural, normal and God-given as our sexuality and the sexual orientation God Created us with and eschewing it in order to transform or become someone else’s idea of what it should or should not be. Tragically, I have heard the Psalm referring to creating a clean heart used on numerous occasions by Christians who advocate the harmful practice known as reparative “therapy” (I use the term loosely, as psychologists have spoken that it is in fact a psychologically harmful and detrimental practice) for LGBT individuals.

Being a Christian who also happens to be a bisexual man who is in a happy, healthy, honest and caring relationship with both a bisexual woman and another bisexual man, as well as one who thinks in a radically liberal sense on many issues and acknowledges all spiritual paths based in a sense of love, kindness and charity as being equal and valid and in alignment with what Christ taught, I have had more than my share of those who have accused me of possessing an unclean heart, an unclean spirit, or just plain being possessed by those who purport to know the will of God, or who are electing to twist the words of Christ to satisfy and justify their own agenda rooted in their own fears and prejudices. I have had both conservative and liberal Christians make these assertions; they are entitled to their opinions and beliefs just as I am my own, just as I feel we all are; in the end, it’s all the same God seen through different eyes, perceptions and experiences. But for one to conclude that my unique perspective prevents me from attaining a sense of spiritual cleanliness or a pure heart is simply not accurate nor founded in reality, at least in my experience.

Based upon everything I know about the Loving God and Christ whose teachings enlightened me about that God and keep me in a state of knowing I am loved by God, no matter what fear based delusions might create the illusion of separation, having a clean heart, a clean spirit has absolutely nothing at all to do with one’s sexual orientation, sexuality or what type of relationship or marriage they are in. (I nearly engaged in this false perception once and as a result, and was tricked into the falsehood that one needed to change who they were to be loved by God but all I did was make myself miserable and not arrive one step closer to God and instead took a step further back in spiritual growth in the process). It does, however, have everything to do with how we think about God, how we treat one another, how we approach God, and our perspective on life and the meaning and significance our presence and purpose in this life has.

Shortly prior to my ordeal with the bugs, I had been doing quite a bit of soul searching on those points. I was doing some careful examination of the events which were transpiring in my own life, and more importantly, how I elected to react to them. At one point and time, I would have seen the recent fiasco as some sort of plague sent by an angry God utilizing moths in lieu of locusts, based on some very negative and unhealthy ideas about God I unfortunately once indulged in. Fortunately, this was not the case this time, but I did some deep soul searching after the experience and determined that I had some stored away negativity deep in my subconscious mind that I desperately needed to attend to-as it was creating somewhat of a barrier between my being able to fully and thoroughly embrace a sense of spiritual wholeness and happiness.

I pray daily. No specific time, or place, or reason, and not the type of traditional or orthodox prayer you might initially think of. A few months ago, I noticed I had fallen into a bit of a negative habit with it. It seemed that I was including in a few of them numerous visualizations and requests intended to implore God to assist me in avoiding bad, negative or unfortunate events occurring in my life as well as that of my loved ones; as good example of this would be, “Help me to be aware and prevent ____ from happening” or, “Please protect _____ from _____” or “Please protect me/us from _____.”

Now, while there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, I did take pause to notice that all I seemed to be doing was dwelling upon negative things. It took some time for me to root out and locate the source, but I realized the cause: many of my younger experiences with God were all based in fear, rather than love. While on the surface level I had long since been able to cart those out with the trash, there were some lingering elements I had not dealt with yet. Doing so would have caused me to have to revisit and deal with unpleasant experiences I had stuffed down in my subconscious and internalized for a lack of wanting to deal with them-call it sweeping them under the rug or shoving them back under things in the pantry like the old box of cereal, if you will. Bad idea.

And what I eventually arrived at was that a small part of me was holding on to old things that had long since expired and needed to be discarded-namely, old ideas about God that were unhealthy. The idea and concept that I had to constantly beseech and implore of God to protect me from negative events occurring was a holdover and throwback from the days long ago when I was still suffering from the idea of a God of demands and imagined requirements far beyond and distant from the God that Jesus actually taught about.

One of the most interesting and clearest revelations I arrived at about the manner in which I was letting my times of spiritual communication, meditation and prayer slip into was the fact that the more I would pray for this or that negative thing not to happen, the more likely it was to happen because I was constantly allowing my mind to dwell on the negative. In many cases, the negative events would take place – events I could have easily avoided had I not been so preoccupied with avoiding them. I honestly feel that the very cause was the simple fact that I was feeding the negativity by dwelling on it. While many of the negative events were small in the grand scheme, they were still disruptive and upsetting: heavy stress at work, financial challenges, being sick, and so on.

This became even clearer to me after a conversation I had with a friend. You are likely familiar with a spiritually centered self help book and DVD out there called “The Secret”. He and I were discussing it, and the fact that although much ado has been made about the book and many of those who subscribe to it see it as a “new” type of teaching, the reality is that many of the “secrets” are not new, but have always been in there for those who honestly ask, seek and knock.

One of the many core teachings in there centers around the concept of the “Law Of Attraction”; in simplistic terms, the concept that the more we dwell upon a thing, positive or negative, the more likely it is to manifest in our experience. While this has been the central idea around a great many self help books, by the late Emmet Fox (“thoughts are things”) as well as The Power Of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale and similar ideas have been echoed in other books such as the Conversations With God series – the very idea originated from God teaching through the teachings Jesus Himself brought us.

Numerous times, Jesus reminded us of the power of faith: that it can move mountains, that it enables us to do what might have seemed impossible. He reminds us that we can do great things, or, as in the case of the fig tree that no longer bore fruit, cause it to wither and be no more. When healing the blind, He says to them, “According to your faith, let it be done to you.”(Matthew 9:29) and I think His inclusion of “according to your faith” there is key. He also reminds us in His teachings that Heaven, being at peace with God, and our sense of oneness with God is not distant in some far off place, but rather within us.

My friend is not a particularly spiritual person, but knows that I am and he put things into perspective taking about the verse in the Lord’s Prayer, attributed to Jesus, which seemed to illustrate the correlation between the way we think, the way we think about God, and the way we experience life as a result. He mentioned that the verse, “Thy Will Be Done On Earth As It Is In Heaven” could in fact be a way of teaching that if we have and strive to maintain positive, affirming thoughts within ourselves, and a sense of peace with God, then it will directly have an effect on not only the types of things we bring into and experience in our lives but how we react and respond to them. I agreed.

And this made a lot of sense to me; I honestly do feel that given the trials and tribulations of life, God has empowered us with not only the tools to make the absolute best of life and all the gifts our lives contain, but how to use those to enrich the lives of those around us. God has blessed with the gift of being able to conceive, achieve and receive if we just believe that we can and move towards those goals in a way which maintains a sense of love and respect for all others. And the very first step towards making our lives better is finding that connection with God, striving for and maintaining a positive outlook, and keeping our faith alive by getting our hearts and minds totally uncluttered from any negative feelings or thoughts to the best of our ability. Thinking positive is, in my opinion, both imperative and critical to maintaining a healthy spiritual outlook, despite whatever is going on in our lives. Only good can result from it.

After that conversation, I had been attempting to do that, although I had not fully considered going within myself and “cleaned house,” so to speak. There were other issues I still had to revisit and deal with, and that I still do as needed. The instance with our bug infestation simply drove the point home to me of how imperative it is that when we clean house spiritually, it cannot be a surface level cleaning to truly be effective – it has to go really deep to the core. Absolutely everything needs to be taken down, pulled out, evaluated and scoured, and once it has been, a fresh start with preventative measures to keep it from getting so messed up again should take place.

I think back to how I first came to know the Real, Loving God and what it means to clean house and start fresh, start anew, begin again. As Jesus Himself puts it in John 3:7, “Do not be astonished that I said to you, you must be born anew.” But what exactly does that mean for someone who does not subscribe to the legalistic party line definition of what that means?

I remember long ago when I falsely believed it meant that I had to choose between God and my sexuality and sexual orientation, and fell hook, line and sinker for an even more fear-filled and anxiety filled existence than I had previously had. That was not being “born anew,” it was stifling the real person God made me to be, and it never did feel sincere. It was not until I was born a “third time” – and honestly approached God with an open heart and mind as I am without apology that I actually began to understand the meaning of purifying the soul and allowing God to Create a clean heart within us.

I came to understand that having a pure heart and a clean heart did not mean that I had to abandon being bisexual, or abandon the reality for me that bisexual to me means the need to be intimately involved with both genders, or any aspect of who I was so long as I was living my truth in a fashion which was in no way harmful or hurtful to others. I came to understand that God was less concerned about what went on in the bedroom or sexuality shared however among consenting adults and far more concerned about how we treat one another, how we express our gratitude for the multitude of blessings God has given us, how we use the unique gifts God has given each of us, and how we react to the things which happen which are out of our control, with love or fear.

And just as many others who call ourselves among those who identify as both LGBT and Christian, I felt a huge weight lifted. Once I had established and knew that my sexual orientation, sexuality and my being committed to both a woman and a man was neither inherently bad, or a sin, or wrong regardless of the opinions others may possess or hold out of fear, and was able to get rid of the negative junk in my head at the time, I felt light, alive, clean and free and inspired to pave the way and illuminate the path for wonderful miracles to transpire in my own life, and also to enrich and provide hope to the lives of others around me as I feel we are called to do out of love.

However, over time, it did occur to me that there were small elements that I had chosen not to deal with in the process of being born anew the third time: old wounds that I had forgiven, but had not been fully able to let go of; old hurts and experiences which served to subconsciously reinforce old and damaging beliefs and ideas; old fears that I no longer had any use for, and which had long since expired, yet I still clung to. Occasionally, like a pest, one or two would pop up and annoy me, but I would just focus on something else rather than fully dealing with them, or looking into why I was feeling that way. I had repressed things and forgotten them, and over time no matter how far I pushed them back into my subconscious, they had a way of creeping back out and interfering with my sense of well being.

Jesus had a teaching that many have misinterpreted which I personally feel is related to the concept of what it is we truly need to do when we are “born anew” and honestly seek God, and I think it definitely applies when considering the concept of starting fresh with a clean heart and a fresh start:

“No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak, for a patch pulls away from the cloak, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; otherwise, the skin bursts, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.” -Matthew 9:17

What I feel He is saying here is that when we take the leap of faith and leave behind a life of fear, of negative thinking, of living under the illusion that life is meaningless and that we are alone in life and instead adopt the idea that God is with us, we need to do everything we can to clear out all of the old clutter-for lack of a better term, all of the negative crap which we might have allowed to accumulate and build up over time in our hearts and souls over time that clogs our thinking, and obscures our sense of being one with God, and start over fresh.

I don’t think He means that we should leave behind those things which are a vital part of who we are, or anything which brought or brings us a sense of joy or happiness, or attempt to change who we are or completely reinvent ourselves from scratch. But I think He does mean that we should no longer cling to that which we might cling to out of fear, forced or inherited tradition or nostalgia, that which causes us harm and anxiety, or that which is no longer relevant or no longer serves our sense of well being (e.g., old patterns of belief about God based in fear, guilt or shame about who we are, feelings of low self esteem fostered by fearful beliefs), if it ever did in the first place. We should not try to continue in old and negative patterns and processes of thought or belief, or making the same errors which prevented and stifled us from being more fully aware of and feeling deeply connected to God.

In short, I think He intends in this teaching that once we clean the house, we don’t have to move out of the house, but we do have to do our part to keep it clean. Merely asking God for help to create a truly clean heart within ourselves is not sufficient, although it is an outstanding first step in the process. But once we have asked for assistance and the strength and courage to do so, we too have to do the work and do our part once we have expressed our desire for that as with anything we call on God for help with. And while it can be a challenge, the great news is that God has Gifted us that all we would ever need to succeed: the gift of thought, the gift of faith, the gift of creativity, the gift of knowledge should we elect to seek it, and the gift of loved ones and friends-angels disguised in human form-to see us through whatever difficult times we might face in the process.

I thought about all of this and how it oddly related with the unexpected invasion of the moth creatures we had recently, and how once we cleaned up the house how I knew I too needed to do an inventory of how I had allowed old things to sit there and burrow into my subconscious thoughts and actions the way that the pests had contaminated our food. Not to be crude, but the first thing I thought was that I needed a “mental colonic” to purge my subconscious thoughts of any negativity I had allowed to get in there or let stay in there over time.

Humor aside, I knew I needed to do a deep cleansing of my own psyche and clear out all of the negative stuff that might have been built up over time but never fully dealt with and allow room for more of the good stuff to come back in, to fully flow through me – to help me to have a better outlook so I could in turn effectively share that to enrich the lives of others around me.

I started small, by getting rid of any idea that I had to constantly ask God to help me avoid the negative, and commenced with beginning to put my focus in prayer and meditation not centering around things I did not want to happen, and not even really what I do want to happen (God already knows all of those things anyway, as do I) but more of a sense of gratitude for all of the good things in my life, even the smallest things, as well as a sense of thinking of my loved ones and others in need who I pray for surrounded with the highest Love. That has made a huge difference. And, I made a conscious effort to go through and finally let go of old hurts where I had forgiven but not fully let go of the hurt, and that includes kicking myself for mistakes I had made rather than accepting them as opportunities for learning and moving forward. More than anything, I make a conscious effort to spend as much time as possible dwelling on thoughts and taking action to bring more joy into the lives of those around me and give thanks for all that brings me joy, and it makes a definite difference in the quality of everything, for which I am grateful. Do inconveniences still happen? Of course. That’s life. The difference these days is how I respond to them.

Why wait for Spring to do a “spiritual housecleaning”? As we prepare for those times of the year when we celebrate our gratitude for all of our blessings and the birth of Christ and the blessing of His Life and Teachings (things I personally feel we should remain aware of and grateful for every day of the year but which are commonly observed on Thanksgiving and Christmas) as well as the coming of a brand new year, I feel that there is no better time to assess our own hearts and see if there is any house cleaning that needs to be done. While God will gladly assist us and help us through the process of developing a clean heart and spirit, we too have to do our part, taking inventory, cleaning everything out and getting rid of any old negative patterns of thinking or old and expired ideas and ensure that there are no old fears insidiously creeping around in there like bugs which can prevent us from fully seeing clearly or being able to deeply connect with the Divine within ourselves and in everyday life experience.

It’s an ongoing process. We have to remain constantly aware of anything in our hearts and souls, and unresolved issues that need to go out with any old and negative ideas far past their expiration date in our journey of spiritual growth and not only engage in the process of cleaning house, but give it a truly deep cleaning in preparation to receive all of the blessings that will come to us when we truly embrace the Loving God as embodied in Christ, blessings we can then allow to spill over into the lives of others as God intended.

While we should always hold near and dear and keep all of those things which enrich us and sustain us spiritually and bring us joy, we have to not only get rid of and stay rid of any old and outdated fear which has made us feel spiritually sick, created the illusion that we are somehow separate, distant, or empty from God but not let it get back in and build a solid foundation to prevent it from coming back. We should remain forever aware and alert for times when we think it might be returning and exterminate it before it has the chance to create a nasty infestation that can sicken our souls and make us suffer the illusion that we are distant from God’s Love, even though we can never truly be removed from that Love.

We have to keep a watch out for the pests that can infest and nest in our hearts and souls and breed over time into a difficult to manage problem if left unchecked. When we are tempted to allow the negativity and fear being experienced of those around us to get into us, we need to be able to respond with Love and inspire them with hope instead of engaging in a pity party. When we are worried about what may or may not transpire, we need to adopt the faith that no matter what, God’s Love for us will not change regardless of what trials we might be facing in our own lives. If we have things which we feel we need to forgive ourselves or others for, we need to get them out in the open and be able to let them go and move forward. If we are harboring old, negative and useless, if not self defeating and potentially spiritually harmful beliefs, we need to be able to discard them and move on with a clean, fresh outlook. And when we as LGBT individuals might be persecuted by another for being “different” from the “acceptable norm” for being who we are or those who assert that we are unacceptable to God on the basis of our sexual orientation or sexuality or however it is they feel we are not up to their expectations of what they think we should or should not be, we need to take the time to thank God for not only Creating us to be a unique individual, but assuring us that we are loved as we are and have a unique place and purpose in the world. Most of all, we need to understand that regardless of where we are in life, even if we have made mistakes which have been detrimental to ourselves or to others, all of those things can be overcome, forgiven and atoned for and we can begin clean and fresh.

Wherever you find yourself, remember that no matter how much old garbage or negativity you might have allowed to build up, it’s no challenge for God to assist you in making your heart, soul and spirit to feel just like new, and guide you in the process of maintaining a “clean house” spiritually all the time. As with cleaning an actual house, it’s an excellent discipline to take a few moments, perhaps in prayer and meditation each day to freshen things up and make sure you were able to get everything in the corners and crevices where they like to hide. Get rid of old, negative ideas, so God can allow you to make room for all of the blessings that will come with a fresh and new outlook. Don’t let vermin or pests like fear, apathy, negative thoughts, worry and doubt get in-if you see one, get rid of the problem before it gets out of hand and they multiply, and take preventative measures to keep them from coming back by focusing on all the things that bring you joy, for those are the gifts of God – and those too can multiply, but at far more rapid rate.

Just as with a clean home, you will find that you adopt a fresh new way of thinking and a healthier and more positive outlook. Once you have really cleaned house spiritually, you will find that not only will you feel like a new person and ready to begin anew, but that room has been made for more happiness, peace of mind, and joy than you might have ever thought you had room for before cleaning out all the old junk and beginning anew – joy which you can cherish as a gift from God and share with others.