Spring cleaning can include organizing and cleaning the garage, the basement, and the attic. Spring cleaning is taking the time to clean the corners of the kitchen counter or dust the ceiling fan blades. Although a deep-cleaned home can help produce temporary feelings of well being, it has yet to be credited with positively changing a life. However, taking time to dust off a journal, dial up a neglected accountability partner, or proactively proctor a self-evaluation can facilitate healing and ensure more joyful and peaceful living.
This month, consider taking one of your meetings to do some individual spring cleaning.
During the meeting, ask each person to participate in the following exercise using a notebook or journal:
- List the last five events in your life that brought you joy.
- List the last five events in your life that caused you emotional pain.
- Determine and list the people involved in each event.
- Rate your present involvement with each person using a scale of 1 - 10 (1 - do not interact with them at all; 10 - they are a daily part of my life).
When everyone is done, ask the group to respond to the following prompts (at their own comfort level):
- Share one of the events that either brought you joy or emotional pain.
- If you were sitting next to one of the people involved in the event, what would you like to say to them or what question would you like to ask?
- What is the significant connection between the events and the people involved?
The above questions and prompts are simply an opportunity for each person to begin walking in the direction of recovery from his or her emotional pain. As the leader, your position is not to counsel but to guide each person into the presence of the Counselor. If others begin to counsel, gently guide them back to the only One who can heal. Also, take some time to discuss tools for healthy living and how they can aid in processing these past events.
These tools include:
- Daily journaling
- An active relationship with an accountability partner
- Seeking the wisdom of a Christian counselor when necessary
- Apologizing as soon as possible after a disagreement
- Addressing past hurtful issues with the help of a trusted friend or spouse
Before leaving, have each person select a partner and each write, on an index card, one prayer request generated from the discussion. Exchange cards and end the meeting saying a short prayer for each other. Encourage everyone to pray for his or her partner's request throughout the week. Challenge each person to journal once every day about one of the life events that caused him or her pain.
During your next meeting, ask for volunteers to share their experience of journaling throughout the week. Use this time as worship, praising God for the work He promises to complete.
Proactively participating in self-care can positively affect relationships with others. Reaching in is always a powerful way of reaching out.