I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the neat/clean freak one in my marriage. I don’t want my home to be a pigsty, but I don’t mind a little clutter here and there.
In the past eight to nine months, though, my husband and I have been on a huge decluttering and trying-to-live-minimally spree after reading some books, watching a few documentaries, talking with friends, and realizing that it isn’t just about decluttering and getting rid of stuff, but what you do after that you’ve done all that.
Part of the reason why I didn’t enjoy cleaning was that we really did have way too much stuff (okay, most of it was my stuff). Before I could even clean, I would have to organize. And although I enjoy organizing, it was just too much sometimes. So I would put off cleaning. Or just do a little bit, and think that that was enough. We’re not hoarders by any means, but there were clothes, shoes, accessories just bursting out of the dresser drawers and closet. Books were crammed into every nook and cranny that I could find. I had way too many dishes, kitchen utensils, and old appliances that I hadn’t touched in over a year. I had thirty Trader Joe’s bags! Why I needed thirty Trader Joe’s bags is beyond me.
We still have a long way to go in terms of decluttering all aspects of our home, but so far we’ve tackled our clothes, kitchen (minus the pantry), and most of our books. And the greatest thing that we gained through this process was time. Time for more productive efforts. Time for ourselves. Time for other people. Time for God.
This winter, my closet consisted of eight tops, two blazers, three pairs of pants, two leggings, and three pairs of shoes (plus a handful of accessories). Getting ready in the morning used to take me an hour from the moment I woke up to the moment I walked out the door. About 15-20 minutes of that would be spent in the closet, just trying to figure out what to wear, even if I had picked out an outfit the other night. The extra time I’ve gained now allows me to spend time in prayer, or in singing, or reading God’s Word, or all of the above!
With less stuff in general around the house, I’ve had an easier time cleaning the home. And a clean home gives me the confidence to invite people more often and spend quality time with them.
Living with just what you need, and not desiring more is not easy. You feel the pressure to keep up with the latest gadgets. You want to be wearing the latest trends. You want to keep up appearances.
Decluttering is also not an easy task. We hold on to things because they have sentimental value. They bring back memories. I’m not saying that we should callously toss everything that ever meant anything to us. But I do believe that sometimes they hold us back from living in the present.
Right now, some of us are on spring break, or do some deep spring cleaning around this time of year. I’d like to issue an encouraging and helpful challenge to those who are thinking about decluttering and cleaning up their home: How will this process open up time, space, energy, and resources to pour into your marriage, friendships, and relationship with God?
I’ve been reflecting through Hebrews 11-13 this month, and 13:1-6 has been especially motivating for me to not give up during this process:
1 Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. 3 Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. 4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. 5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”
God is revealing a greater perspective and purpose for my life: that it’s about “brotherly (and sisterly!) love” as stated in verse 1, and trusting in God (verse 6). And the verses in between involve instructions on how to achieve those things, including “be content with what you have” (verse 5).
So as you purge and declutter, keep in mind the greater purpose in all of it. Our stuff and clutter can either keep us from engaging in relationships, or they can open up avenues and opportunities.
I hope and pray that we can all have more time for God and the people in our lives this season!