Spring cleaning—putting stuff away and decluttering—is therapeutic for me. It always makes me feel better, like my life is getting organized as I order my stuff. It’s so easy for there to be clutter buildup from day-to-day living, and before you know it, the counters, floors, and drawers are all full of stuff that doesn’t belong there. Some of the bigger messes require time to organize. Do you have piles that have slowly grown over a span of months, and now you have no idea what is beneath the first layer? Or maybe when you clean one space, you just move it to another so you can deal with it later? Well, I am familiar with both, and as I was scanning various counters and cluttered spaces this week, I realized that slowly it was getting better. Each time I made some progress with a cleaning cycle, I saw the line move. I was also holding the line between cleanings rather than reverting back to old habits. If I kept this up, I would make long-term progress—I would move the line. 

I like the phrase “move the line”: It can be applied to any area of our life where improvement is needed. What do I mean when I talk about the line? I’m referencing the line of what we consider acceptable in any personal behavior or habit. To expand on that thought, it can mean the line we accept for how much clutter we allow in our lives (whether physical, emotional, or mental clutter), how much junk food we eat, how much or little exercise we deem appropriate each day, or how much of any behavior we allow to manifest itself in our lives. The idea of moving the line can be used as a catalyst for steady progress anywhere we want to exert the effort necessary to create intentional and lasting change. 

There are plenty of books about making small improvements and progressing bit by bit to see large changes down the road, and it is so true. If you can move the line, even incrementally, then over time you will see the changes you seek. Just be sure you are moving the line in the direction you want! Because in reality, the line will move with or without your conscious effort. In my life I’ve seen it in fitness or healthy eating, one day of slacking off or over-indulging leads to another and then another, and before I know it, I am completely out of shape and have gained ten pounds “overnight”. And the road back always seems to take more effort. 

Discipline is the key, and I definitely struggle with keeping that key in my pocket…or maybe I leave it in my pocket when I should be using it on the lock of laziness and apathy? Either way, without discipline it is hard to move the line in the right direction with any amount of consistency. How do you become more disciplined? With practice. Yes, just like everything else, discipline in any area takes practice. It involves giving yourself grace when you slip up, and then giving yourself a kick in the pants to do better next time.

Everyone’s brain is wired differently, so what works for one person won’t work for the next. Some people find journaling helpful, keeping track of their daily habits and accomplishments; others are more visual and are motivated by putting a picture that represents their goal on their mirror or refrigerator, or wherever they will see it throughout the day. Still others need group dynamics, a support group of like-minded people who have similar goals, to keep them going; while the loners prefer to run down their own path because the temptation to compare is too great and ultimately counterproductive. I find a clean room and made bed relieves stress, but others are quite content working with piles of “stuff” gathered around them.

To move your line, you have to figure out what moves you. If you don’t know, talk to God; He built you and He knows how to motivate you. He will help you develop perspective in your specific challenge and give you wisdom for meeting your goals. And perhaps as you talk to Him, you’ll discover you need to revisit your motivations in order to truly succeed—or to know what success looks like for you. If you are trying to make changes to impress other people, then your success is going to depend on how they react to your progress—if they even notice it. But if you are trying to make changes that God is pointing you toward and changes that you feel passionate about, then your success is measured in God’s eyes. And He’s a supportive Father who cheers you on each step of the way, points out the smallest achievements, and lifts you high when you reach your goals.

After you taste success He might point you to an even loftier goal, because, you know what, if your goals require God’s attention, His help, and His presence, then that means you are spending more time with the Father. Spending time with you gives God joy! It makes Him happy. He delights in us. So naturally, if we are working toward a goal hand-in-hand with Him, then He’ll point us to new, higher goals next time so we can continue spending time together. Wow! That’s pretty awesome to think about. God wants to spend time with you, that is His desire. He misses you when you wander away and welcomes you back with open arms regardless of how long or far you may have strayed. 

Now let’s circle back to my original train of thought on moving the line: Moving the line with God is a guarantee as long as we persevere when we can’t see progress. That’s when we need to trust God even more because He has a higher perspective and can see changes before we can. He can see the end result of today’s decisions before we have even finished a complete thought or taken the first step. Trust God, listen when He speaks, and watch Him move the line in wondrous ways.

May God spark hope and light in your life today,

Michelle