There’s been a longer gap between Part 1 and Part 2 than there should have been, partly down to my own attempts to declutter. (Well, I rediscovered an area of carpet in my bedroom that hadn’t been seen for a while.) Whilst I was re-hanging several dozen items I decided to do a bit of ‘Kondo-ing’ myself. The thing was, I didn’t have to ask whether something sparked joy. I realised the most effective way to clear my cupboards was to ask whether this was something a 40-year old would wear (it’s my birthday in August)! Out went a teddy-hooded fleece (that was a big win as it was so bulky); many denim items bought between 1995-2005; the sharpest trouser suit I ever had (not worn since I was last in the classroom in 2007). They’d pointlessly taken up space for several years as my body is no longer the same shape and I no longer fit into any of them! It was ‘thank you and goodbye’ to a huge bag.
I have no problem clearing clothes from the kids’ cupboards, but I hate the job of sorting mine out, and it’s our bedroom that tends to get left out when we have a big tidy up. Every night I nag everyone else to put their clothes away. They’re too polite (or scared) to point out that I don’t lead by example! When we don’t practice what we preach, our credibility topples. To be honest, I’m quick to point out other people’s mistakes but am I blind to, or in denial of, mine?
Have you had a chance to think about the deeper issues surrounding the decluttering phenomenon? Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, the Netflix programme taking the world by storm, profiles ordinary people who have lots of ‘stuff’. They have to empty cupboards, drawers, shelves.. whole rooms, and pile everything up in one place so they can see the full extent of their hoarding. They find a load of trash, but they rediscover the things they love. Maybe we have gifts we once treasured but haven’t used for a while. What about our spiritual gifts? We need to be reminded: ‘Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.’ (1 Peter 4:10)
Throughout the process, the people keep saying ‘how did it get to this’? Isn’t this how it goes with sin, or worry, or fears? They build up almost without us noticing but before we know it, they all become too much for us to handle.
Sometimes, we’re just too muddled with clutter to see what actually sparks joy. We might have to root out bad memories or untrue words and thoughts; sift through our memories and find the treasure but get rid of sin and dross. This needs to be a daily thing – Jesus puts it best, in Matthew 6:9-13:
This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
Marie Kondo thanks the house or clothes but we can thank the One who made us. We need to truly appreciate what we have been given.
The more we delve into our ‘stuff ‘- whether physical or spiritual, the more we realise Jesus’s plan for us makes absolute sense. Our first world problems but be absolutely laughable to the vast majority of the world. So you’re stressed because you have too much stuff? Whenever we hear from friends who’ve just come back from mission trips, we always hear the same thing: the people there have so much joy, yet they have nothing. It hardly takes a genius to realise the lesson in this: less is more.
Once we’ve had a good clear-out of our mind, our hang-ups, our ‘stuff’, we need to establish some kind of routine to keep things tidy. I love the rawness of this pithy proverb: ‘As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.’ (Proverbs 26:11) What freedom can we experience when we can access our gifts, delight in the treasure of our hearts, enjoy spending time with God and think in an uncluttered way?
Next time, a few strategies on how to avoid being a dog returning to its vomit! And here’s a clue: run with a pack!