Stuff, Stuff, and More Stuff!

 

The status of my writing room/study presents an overwhelming de-cluttering project!

“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.

Information Overload

 

Photo by Kate Scofield
Photo by Kate Scofield

“Don’t load yourselves up with equipment. Keep it simple.” – Jesus to His disciples, as quoted in Luke 9:3 (The Message)

I often wonder if technology, instead of making life easier and better, has made it more complicated and stressful.

I grew up during the B.T. Age—Before Technology. I didn’t need to know the up-to-the-second weather forecast. Back then we didn’t have instant access to Doppler radar and cell phones and Internet. If we wanted to know what the weather would be, we had our radio, which sat atop the refrigerator, Eleanor Schano and Bob Kudzma of Channel 4 and Channel 2 respectively, and my mother’s hands and feet, which ached when there was weather moving in. Or we simply looked out a window.

Weather forecasts were broadcast every half hour, along with news headlines. The news reports were given on the hour. Local—by local I mean Pittsburgh and Johnstown—TV stations devoted an hour to the news every evening and a half an hour at noon. If disaster struck, regular programming was cancelled to bring us the details as they unfolded.

That part hasn’t changed, but our exposure to and the availability of up-to-the-second worldwide, national, and local news and weather has. I wonder if we haven’t become information junkies. If we haven’t become addicted to being fed (bombarbed would be a better word) so much information and all of it available with a simple click of a mouse.

Life was simpler B.T. We had worries and concerns, yes, but not on the level we do today. We now can know about every dire event that happens worldwide almost the instant it occurs. I don’t know about you, but I believe this has raised my stress level. Life on a personal level is stressful enough, but factor in worldwide crises, and stress levels become unmanageable (no matter how we saw we’re managing quite well, thank you).

Now we have so many channels to choose from, so many devices, so many remote controllers, so much technology to keep us informed and crazy.

There’s no time to lie on your back in the yard, watching the clouds float across the sky. We’re too busy surfing the channels or the ’Net in search of the latest news, the latest game results. Or we’re checking our emails, Facebook or Twitter to get the latest on our friends, while ignoring the friend or loved one in the flesh right in front of us.

I believe we as a society are on information overload. And the result is more stress, more unhappiness—and an addiction for more info.

I’m not saying to can all the technology. It has its benefits. What I’m saying is we need more balance. We need to control the amount of incoming data to a manageable level, rather than allow it to control us.

In my opinion, “manageable level” is “need to know.” Do we really need to know all this stuff?

We carry it with us 24/7. We worry. We fret. We stew. We lose out on happiness in the here and now because carrying around all this unnecessary information is sucking the joy right out of us.

What did Jesus tell His disciples when He sent them out on a mission? And remember, they didn’t even have telephones back then. They had to figure things out on their own because they couldn’t check back in until they returned.

Jesus said, “Don’t load yourselves up. Keep it simple.”

If we followed His advice, imagine how lighter, freer, happier our lives would be!

 I confess, O Lord, that I’ve become an information junkie and often run on overload. Remind me of Jesus’ invitation to come to Him when I’m weary and heavy laden, and He will give me rest, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:28–30). Amen.

Extra tea: Read and meditate on Luke 9:1–6

How do you manage technology? Do you think we’ve gone overboard? Leave your answers in the comment section. Thank you.