As the close of the semester approaches, it brings along with it the anxiety ridden due dates of group projects we’ve forgotten about, exit exams, and term papers. Many of us repeat the mantra, “Cs get degrees,” or respond to the question of our well being with, “I’m surviving,” as we brew another pot of coffee and make another set of flashcards.
We look back on the days of early semester, when we were fresh faced, held little responsibility, and wrote everything in our planner religiously. Now that we’re nearing the end, we’ve amassed a great burden of what an old mentor likes to call, “heart clutter.”
Heart clutter is essentially the things we pick up, but never put back down. As the semester progresses we go along, continuing to pick up things and placing them on top of our pile. Our hands get full of assignments, due dates, relationships that grow and break. We reach the point of being in full panic mode, running around with our hands full and our hair on fire.
Heart clutter, left unchecked, can crowd our thoughts and minds until we’re drowning in anxiety and hopelessness. It can give us tunnel vision regarding our circumstances and responsibilities, distracting us from those around us as well as our Father above us.
In hopes of combating the clutter, this is an invitation to pause, take a breath, and do a heart check.
(So many new vocabulary words, I know, bear with me).
A heart check is a means of putting down the things we’re grasping so tightly and then taking time to reorient ourselves emotionally and spiritually. What are you feeling? Why are you feeling this way?
I encourage you to find somewhere quiet, and go through the following steps with a trusted roommate or friend. If you’re a more private person, spend time hashing out the contents of your heart in a journal or on a spare piece of paper
1. Close your eyes and take a deep breath (take as long as you need)
2. Take a moment to feel your emotions instead of stifling them (Feel allllll the things).
3. Identify some feelings that stand out to you (they can be negative or positive)
4. Share some feelings you identified, either with a friend or your journal
5. Pray about any concerns that you’ve identified through the heart check (Lord, please help me as I deal with ______ )
Also, dear reader, please remember as you sort through your heart clutter - your identity is not in your degree. It’s not in the grades you make, nor in the amount of assignments you have due. Accolades are commendable, but they are not Christ. Our identities as Christians are meant to be in Him and Him alone, so as you stay up late finishing that assignment due at midnight or you cry over another failed biology test, remember in whom your hope is found.
“But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”