Clear the clutter: a New Year's resolution

A Christian Science perspective.

My mother had a custom about the Christmas tree. It had to be out of the house before Jan. 1.

One New Year’s Eve, the clock almost caught up with us. I can still hear us laughing as we rushed to pitch the tree out, minutes before the New Year arrived. I was just a child and to me it seemed like a fun game. But Mother was determined, and it became a tradition in our home.

Years later when I had my own home, I accused Mother of being superstitious about this. She just laughed and said, “Superstition has nothing to do with it. To start the New Year with Christmas decorations still up is bad housekeeping, not bad luck!” Mother must have believed then what I believe now, that life is current!

Meanwhile, my adult son has gone to much effort and some expense to keep and collect toys that he has fond memories of playing with as a child. There is a special spot in his home and in his heart for them. To him, they are not clutter. Being able to see them all the time is a joy for him. Joking a bit with him I said, “But son, life is current!” He just laughed and responded, “No, Mom, life is cumulative!”

I was touched that those childhood memories mean so much to my son. I asked myself, Can life be both current and cumulative? From studying the Scriptures, I would say that it depends upon what is being accumulated.

Christ Jesus had a great follower in the Apostle Paul. The Bible tells how Paul’s point of view was completely reversed to embrace the teachings of Jesus. At the time of his conversion, Paul went from being a persecutor of Jesus to becoming a follower. In order to embrace the “new man,” as he later put it, changes had to take place in his thought. In order to reflect the higher thought of God, divine Mind, he had to leave behind the accumulation of negative thinking and embrace the spiritual expansion that was coming to him. In his teaching, he was clear about how to upgrade thought. He said we must put off the old man and put on the new man (see Colossians 3:8-11). The Bible also says to “be renewed in the spirit of your mind” (Ephesians 4:23).

Exactly where should our minds be? The next verse says, “ righteousness [right thinking] and true holiness.” The more I study the life of Paul, the more I see what he was saying: Clear out the old mental clutter. Life is current.

To have order in our lives, it is essential to keep what’s good and get rid of the rest. That’s why many take a clutter-clearing vow as a New Year’s resolution. Many a closet and even a few garages get an upgrade. But as a student of the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy, I know the best New Year’s resolutions begin with spiritual renewal.

Where to start? What must come first? Mental clutter, which I’ve come to know as matter-based thinking and its effect of sickness and sin. In the chapter titled “Christian Science Practice” in Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy wrote: “Stand porter at the door of thought. Admitting only such conclusions as you wish realized in bodily results, you will control yourself harmoniously” (p. 392).

This mental clearing takes spiritual know-how and mental discipline, but the effect of harmony and health is worth every effort. In fact, Eddy called it the “great attainment.” She said that to “divest thought of false trusts and material evidences in order that the spiritual facts of being may appear, – this is the great attainment by means of which we shall sweep away the false and give place to the true” (p. 428). What are these spiritual facts? They are in line with the truth that Jesus said would set us free and that Paul said would be the renewing of our minds. We can take to heart these spiritual ideas and put them into practice now.

These spiritual facts are well worth accumulating, and practicing them can help keep life current.

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