Everyone seems to have a word for the year these days, something to guide them through the year. Some people tell me a word for the year works better than resolutions. We’ll see…
After resisting following the crowd for a few years, I took the plunge for 2020. My wife and I discussed options and decided that 2020 would be the year we DECLUTTER.
We’ve been in our home for over twenty years, and stuff accumulates.
Lots of stuff.
Overwhelming amounts of stuff.
I’m sure you can imagine. Clothes, books (OK, maybe not books, we can never have too many books), knickknacks, gadgets, to name a few. Don’t even think about the garage. We can fit one car, and that’s fine for now.
We realized the best way for us to tackle the project is in small bites. Each week, we schedule a half-day to declutter. So far, we’ve cleaned out one closet. Now, we’re attacking our home office—one drawer or box at a time. We’ve gathered (OK—hoarded) so much paper, Robin Hood and his Merrymen could hide in the forest of the trees that gave their lives to come to dwell in our office.
And it’s more complicated than just glance and toss. We have to check for Social Security numbers and other information that might aid identity thieves. Then we stop for journeys down memory lane. Some were good, some not so good. But they all still have meaning. They are events and experiences we had on the road to where we are today.
As we work our way through the clutter, I discover there’s more to decluttering than the physical aspect. When we pull clothes that no longer fit to give to Goodwill or Salvation Army, when we wade through oceans of paper, the Lord is showing me where I have allowed junk to gather in the spiritual, emotional, and relational areas of my life too.
I need to shed attitudes and behaviors that have crowded my heart and mind. Things creep in that aren’t as healthy for me as other items may be. Part of the decluttering is to examine what I’ve been letting in. He reminds me of Philippians 4:8 (NLT): to “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” I don’t do this enough. I’m finding I need to stop and listen to him and to those he’s put in my life to mentor and guide me, beginning with my wife and the friends he brings to me.
We need to declutter people and relationships too. Not everyone in my life is a benefit to me. Some may be toxic or, at the very least, not healthy. I need to examine my relationships under the microscope of the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
Other relationships may need strengthening because they make me better. These need to be nurtured and built up.
Like with clothes and papers, there’s a lot of weighing and contemplating and deciding.
Decluttering is an adventure. It’s also draining emotionally and spiritually because there is so much to go through, so much baggage we didn’t know we still carry. One of the lessons I’ve learned is not to think it’s going to be quick or easy. The sheer volume of stuff dictates it’s going to take time. And it’s more than glancing at something and then tossing it. Whatever we’re looking to remove or streamline in our lives needs to be prayerfully assessed. Do I still need this? If I do, what do I need to change so it fits me, fits my calling, better? If I keep it, will it bring glory to God?
What are some of the ways you can declutter your life in all its phases?