It’s that time of year. Yards are getting attention, houses are being decluttered, cleaned, given new looks. This week as I passed an old deck being replaced by a new one at a neighbor’s house, it was remarkable how that fresh lumber against the shingles made the house, itself, and the surrounding yard seem shabbier than before. It’s that same effect as when we install new carpet making the walls look dingy. Or the countertops get decluttered causing the nearby shelves to seem more crowded than previously.
Similarly, how we perceive a person, place, thing, or a world view is often dramatically changed as a result of a fresh perspective. For example, we think we have someone all figured out. And then he surprises us by how he acts or reacts causing our perception to change.
Before our mental spring cleaning: That guy’s a big mean. Then we see him performing a heartfelt, true act of kindness. The Ruach arrives like a breath of fresh spring air. Suddenly his physical appearance may even look better to us. We hear his words with clarity rather than with judgment . As we clean away the misconceptions, like a new coat of paint on a wall needing updating, our fresh look allows us to really see him, to understand him. To change our view requires choice and effort on our part, just as spring cleaning and remodeling take hard work. The old deck lumber lies on the ground by the new structure and will take much effort to be hauled away, but how stunning will be the fruit of that labor. Similarly, as a house long in need of attention requires significant labor, so too the more deeply entrenched and longstanding the outdated misperceptions, the more difficult they are to change. Yet the harder the work, the more beautiful the result by contrast.
I had a houseful of dusty theological ideas filling up my head before I let some fresh views in years back. The Ruach blew in to my consciousness that Yeshua is the Messiah. That was a major remodeling, like the deck I saw this week or more appropriately more like a whole new foundation! The whoosh of fresh thinking made many of my then mainstream Jewish thoughts look pretty shabby. New paint , carpeting, a complete remodeling was needed for these new ideas: Greek sounding Jesus was really Yeshua, born and died a Jew. He didn’t start a new religion, but rather, He remained a Jew trying to reform His own religion, Judaism. Christianity is inextricably bound into Judaism and can no sooner exist without it than can a tree without its roots.
One of the biggest dust bunnies to be cleaned out was the feeling that all Christians hate us. After years of experiencing and being viscerally wired to feel the hate of anti-Semitism, this new knowledge of the growing healing of this schism between Christians and Jews and even moreso, the growing realization by many Christians of the crucial role of Judaism was a spring cleaning of my very soul.
Seeing our belief systems with new eyes does not mean that everything we previously believed goes away. Quite the contrary. The new thoughts become part of the existing framework. The deck needs improvement but parts of the old remain. Our “mean” co-worker, friend, or acquaintance may still seem challenging to be around even with our better insights. We still understand that anti-Semitism remains a reality, actually again growing with its new face of anti Israel coalitions.
These times of fresh air allow us to look hard around us and within us. We are then given the choice to integrate the old and the new to create a perspective that can beautify us without and within. How hard we work to understand affects the result just as the more care and effort on the deck remodeling, the more stunning the result.
Spring comes every year. Some choose to let the areas needing attention wait. HaShem gives us that choice, to live another year with the cobwebs and weakening deck, or to work hard to fix those places that may not just need a freshening but are in need of deep repair or replacement.
May this season of spring cleaning bring you many opportunities to make the world around and within you ever the more beautiful. For each choice to shine His light into those dark corners and make needed changes brings you ever closer to Him.