I know it’s here — somewhere! UGH! Why can’t I find anything?!
It all finally caught up to me — or maybe I should say, I came to my wits end and surrendered to the truth. Our home had become a haven of lost treasures and everything was now apparently lost! When did this happen? How could I have let this get so bad?
Sometimes you have to step away to gain greater visual clarity. After returning home from a much needed vacation, I came to the realization that all the ‘stuff’ in our house was causing a grave dysfunction in the overall flow of our desired lifestyle. And of course, it takes just one time of sifting, lifting, shoving and sitting in your closet — on the perpetual hunt for one object — to convince you (at least it did me) that it was time to be over this mess.
But let me get real with you, Girlfriend … lean in …
This quest set some introspection in motion — and that’s when I knew GOD was calling me to have a one-on-one with Him about more than meets the eye.
I don’t know of a soul that enjoys rummaging through a pile of knick-knacks when there’s just one specific object needing to be found. The utter frustration from coming up empty-handed leaves me flustered just thinking about it! Muddling through my own mess of jumble is nothing shy of annoying. Can I get an ‘Amen?’
Just as we tend to ‘stuff’ our living spaces with objects that satisfy our human needs (or at least, we think this to be true), the same can also be said about the temptation to busy our minds and lives with unnecessary thoughts and activities. Stuffing thoughts (just like stuffing objects) only prevents us from facing the real issues. It’s a form of distraction that falsely tells us everything is okay — when it’s the furthest thing from the truth.
You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Isaiah 26:3 MEV
It’s that internal war of jumble and mishmash competing for space within yourself that steals your peace. Similar to the frustration and uneasiness that I feel when I look at a messy closet or room, my mind and spirit can feel out of sync with the Holy Spirit when I feel stuffed with an overabundance of thoughts. That awkwardness of not knowing priorities, the sensation of feeling lost in my thoughts, that weird disconnect from my Heavenly Father … that’s when it’s high time to re-evaluate what is truly critical and what is sidebar information.
Our verse here from Isaiah is a promise of comfort, that we will have peace if we are focused on GOD with confident trust. And that confident trust is believing that He is the provision for our every need. Knowing that our Father wants to give us every good thing, why would we want to settle for anything less?
I would be telling you an untruth if I said it is easy to turn that corner — because it is not. But with all things necessary, you have to start with a determination to win and succeed. Small steps in the forward direction — one day at a time — is all you need to do to get moving.
For me, it began with, well, the beginning. I had to ask myself a few basic questions:
- What do I absolutely need to survive?
- What can I afford to let go?
- What do I need to permanently remove?
I need to hear from the Holy Spirit on a regular basis — for me, that’s moment-by-moment. Everything from should I call this friend and have this conversation now, to should I go to the grocery store today? This is what I consider to be absolutely necessary for survival. And the prerequisite to hearing the voice of GOD is to be in the Word of GOD (study, sermon, fellowship, etc.). Just like I know that certain pots and pans are cooking essentials, this is a survival tool. So that settles the must haves.
I wrestled with what I had to label as affordable to let go. Letting things go is tough — we all like to wrap our fingers tightly around our prized possessions — those extra-curricular activities that don’t make or break your world, but can take away from things that matter. You know, those subtle distractions like overdosing on social media during family meals, online shopping when your kids are really needing you to be involved with them, reading your emails while your spouse is telling you about their day … these things are not evil, but if not kept in check can derail us from making that impactful difference in the lives of those whom we have the opportunity to share. For some of us, letting go of these things could be for just a season, and then when it’s manageable, cautiously reintroduced, knowing it may need to be sidelined again for a better day.
But what about those ambitions to achieve status and rank? Ouch! Again, not necessarily evil, but is the energy and motivation drawing you in closer to your Creator? How much of our lives is dedicated to achieving recognition and receiving accolades for serving in ministry? Have we lost the focus of our stewardship and allowed pride to blindside us? Are we serving on so many teams and leading so many groups that our families rarely see our faces at the dinner table? Could be that a few extra hangers of activity are occupying space in our closets and crowding out the bare essentials.
The decision to toss out things that need not exist was a no-brainer for me, as I knew it would result in less clutter. But just as in purging my space, I had to fix it in my mind that it went into the non-negotiable black bag — opaque (so I wouldn’t have the option to look back at it) and roomy (so that I couldn’t reason that it had to be put off until a more convenient time). But here’s where it gets a bit tricky …
What is totally unnecessary for me may not weigh in the same for you. Let’s face it, Sister, we are all in different seasons of our lives with varying degrees of rhythm and sway. Some of us are just getting our families started, while some of us are in the thick of teen trauma and drama. Some of us are climbing corporate ladders while some of us are looking to slide down the bannister into retirement. Some of us are trying to hit the restart button and some of us can’t find the button.
So how do I decide what gets permanently removed? Let me share some wisdom …
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8 ESV
This is GOD’s criteria for healthy thinking. Period. If it doesn’t meet the benchmark, it’s missing the mark. And missing the mark is equivalent to sin.
Grab your journal and take inventory:
- Are there relationships that are not in alignment with GOD’s Will? These could be relationships to things, people, behaviors, chemical substances — write it down and take a good hard look at what it is. Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. Proverbs 13:20 ESV
- Is my answer(s) to the question above leaving the legacy I want to present to those coming up behind me? But be careful. Always think about what you do. Do not forget the things that your eyes have seen. Remember these things for as long as you live. Tell your children and your grandchildren about the things that God has done. Deuteronomy 4:9. EASY
- Does my association with ___________ bring glory to GOD? These could be things that we consider to be a side hustle, pop culture nuance — or could be connection to an organization with the intent to influence (be careful, you could end up being the one influenced and ultimately polluted). Fill in the blank (and as many as needed). May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord my rock and my redeemer. Psalms 19:14 NLT
I knew that when I set out on my mission to declutter my home, there would be challenges along the way — far beyond the superficiality of moving stuff out. Bottom line: there is simply no room for meaningless hodgepodge. Clutter impedes productivity and leads to wrong turns and bad decisions.
And so it is with our soul, Girlfriend. When it’s filled with junk, we’re stumbling and bumping and falling into places that we need not go. Who has time for that? It comes with a heavy price, usually a ton of regret. Your loving Father wants to keep you free and clear from all that chaos — and the burden is light.
Let me encourage you to rethink some things — it will lighten your load (especially when you have to go digging for something you know you have buried deep down). Losing the mess will clear the path and make room for the best GOD has to offer you.
So what’s in your spiritual closet?
I love you to Heaven and Back, Sweet Friend ~~