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franklin county times
PHOTO BY MARÍA CAMP Teri Lynne Underwood, with daughter Casiday, celebrates her new book, “Praying for Girls.”

On bookshelves and priorities

Earlier this week I spent the day with one of my dearest friends. She recently moved into a new house and asked me to help with styling the massive built-in bookshelves in her home. Since this is one of those things I absolutely love to do, I eagerly said yes.

When I arrived at her home, I noticed she had placed a few things on the shelves, but there didn’t seem to be any design or focus – just items sitting on shelves. As she assured me I could move or remove anything she had done, I began sorting through the books and other items she had set aside to place on the shelves.

As we emptied the space, I was reminded how nice it can be to start with a blank slate. We slowly categorized and prioritized what she had selected to go on the shelf. Along the way, we identified some other things that might enhance the space.

The whole process made me think about how easy it is for us to fill the space in our lives with whatever is handy, giving no thought to the bigger picture.

We say yes more than we say no. We pile on expectations and obligations without counting the cost. We fill our days with activities but never find our true purpose.

As we carefully added each item to the bookshelves at my friend’s house, I realized how important it is to take the same care as we add items in our lives – not just appointments on the calendar but even the attitudes and emotions we allow in our hearts and minds.

Perhaps, what we all need sometimes is a big emotional and mental purge. We need to take time to remove all the clutter and junk that collects dust in our lives and sort it out with the intention of clarifying what matters and what doesn’t.

This isn’t a quick process, and it might not be the easiest thing we do. But imagine taking the time to evaluate all of your commitments and asking yourself, “Is this how God would have me spend my time?” or “Is this a way I can bring glory to God or serve others?”

Maybe we need to look at all the stuff in our emotional junk drawer.

Perhaps you’ve been holding on to some bitterness or anger or resentment, and it’s time to put those things in the trash and replace them with forgiveness and gratitude.

It is never a waste of time to evaluate our hearts and identify the stuff we’ve piled into our minds. In fact, it’s quite possibly one of the best ways we can invest in ourselves.

The bookshelves at my friend’s new house turned out great (if I do say so myself). We arranged the books and photos and other items carefully to reflect her family and their priorities, and we left enough space to allow her to add new things that mean something to her.

And it made me think it might be time to do some rearranging and prioritizing in my heart and mind as well.