“Travel light.” –Jesus, as quoted in Luke 10:4 The Message
When my mother-in-law passed away 19 years ago, I didn’t want the stuff my husband carted up from his former home. I had my own stuff. And I wanted my home to reflect me and my tastes, not his mother’s. But I love my husband and knew he didn’t want to part with something that was his heritage.
Circumstances of late have led to another season of transferring stuff (mostly from the attic, which was neglected the first time) to our house. So while DH is going through boxes and seeing dollar signs (“I wonder how much this old book would be worth on ebay?”), I’m growling inside. I want to simplify my living space, my calendar, my work schedule, my life. To him these things may be valuable, but to me they’re just clutter.
Clutter not only takes up physical space, but also usurps emotional and mental space we could be using for better things. It raises our stress level and takes its toll on our spirits. Even if we think we’re ignoring it and we say it doesn’t bother us, it does. It won’t go away until we do something about it.
So let’s look at some ways we can de-clutter our lives – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Pray. This is the first step. Ask for wisdom, insight, discernment. For courage to do what needs to be done, say what needs to be said (in love). For the Holy Spirit’s enabling.
Prioritize. Determine what’s important to you, what you can and cannot live without. Prioritize things. Prioritize your time. It, after all, is most precious and irreplaceable. What things do we do that we don’t feel called to do? That we said yes to because we couldn’t or wouldn’t say no? When you’re fulfilling God’s purpose for you, the joy will just spill out – you won’t be able to contain it. It will energize you.
Prioritize relationships. Which ones build you up, encourage you, energize you, uplift you? Which ones suck the joy, life, and spark out of you? God says we’re to love one another, but that doesn’t mean we’re to allow toxic relationships to poison our inner peace, infect our outlook and attitude, siphon the joy out of our spirits, and deflate our hopes and dreams. Pray for that person, but limit your time with them. Learn to say no. Firmly and politely.
Pay attention. Be alert for red flags – circumstances, gut feelings, advice from a trusted, godly friend or relative, or someone who’s learned lessons in the school of hard knocks, who’s had more experience than you. Seek God’s guidance. Remember Proverbs 3:5–6 and Psalm 37:23.
Pitch. De-clutter, Discard. Dispose. What haven’t you used or worn for a year? What are you hanging on to because you might need it someday? Can someone else use it? Pass it on, then. If not, pitch it.
Plan to live simply from now on. The best way to do this is to learn to say no. To yourself: “No. I don’t need it.” To others. Don’t accept anything merely out of kindness or guilt. Be gracious: “Thank you for thinking of me, anyhow.” Or accept it and put it in the box you have designated to give to charity.
Once you’ve de-cluttered your life, you’ll be amazed at how free you feel, how much joy you have, how much more clearly you’re thinking.
Clutter is a disease that infects not just our physical space but our minds, hearts, and spirits.
Trust God to provide you with what you need. Anything else is just stuff.
Lord, teach me to live simply. Amen.
Read and meditate on Matthew 11:28–30
© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.