Spiritual De-Cluttering

You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

John 8:32

I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me.

John 15:5

Beware of surface areas in your home. They can turn into hot spots of clutter: piles of books, stationary, and, quite frankly, stuff that seems to have no where else to go.

Sometimes we try and organize the clutter. We straighten up the books into neater piles. We wipe off the dust. We find containers for the stationary. But truthfully, organizing isn’t always enough. It’s not about putting things in the right places but admitting that you have too much stuff for the space available.

Today I cleaned, organized, and de-cluttered our printer stand. I know that sounds unimpressive. But you wouldn’t believe how much stuff I ended up chucking in the garbage or putting in the recycling. I mean, seriously, how often can you organize and re-organize stuff that you haven’t seen fit to use in months? How often do we hang onto things only because we feel bad about wasting them by throwing them away? Someday we will use them, after all! Right? Sure.

The thing about clutter, though, is that it can keep you from actually enjoying your home and space. And the things you do love and value. When too much of your time is spent moving stuff around, back and forth from table to bookshelf to the printer stand, because you can’t bear to get rid of it or less valuable things are in the way, maybe some de-cluttering is in order.

Of course, mine isn’t a blog on home improvement tips or more effective house chore strategies.

But there’s more than one kind of clutter. There are things that we can refuse to get rid of in our lives. Or maybe things have simply piled up over time. Now we just don’t know what to do with them or where to put them. We’ve lived with them for too long. Yet, they keep us from enjoying our lives, from feeling free to be who we were created to be.

What do I mean, you ask?

What about anger and bitterness?

Maybe for you it’s unforgiveness and resentment.

It could be deeply held shame.

You might still have a firm grip on past hurts.

Perhaps grief keeps us from living, of knowing joy despite our sorrow.

Sometimes it’s the pursuit of contentment through money and possessions.

We can persist in ways of thinking and living inherited from our families of origin that stall our spiritual growth and keep us from reaching maturity in Christ.

All of these things amount to clutter in our hearts and souls.

We all need to be rid of something. We all need spiritual de-cluttering.

When I try and reduce the clutter in my house, one thing is almost always true. Clutter returns. Not only am I not very good at reducing clutter, but I am not very good at preventing clutter from acculumating again.

Clearly I need help.

I suggest the same is true of spiritual clutter. It’s not a job I can handle on my own.

Having Christ in my life is the only means of spiritually de-cluttering effectively. Only the work of his Spirit–his powerful presence–can eliminate the junk that has gathered over time in my life and makes it all the more difficult to live as he invites me to live. More, only by his power can I hope to avoid gathering more piles of clutter in the future.

True, this process of spiritual de-cluttering is one that takes place over a lifetime. Growing to maturity in Christ doesn’t happen overnight. It took me more than an hour just to de-clutter my printer stand!

The process of spiritual de-cluttering will also look different for each of us. Don’t measure your growth by where others are in their walk with Christ. Measure it instead by the distance he’s brought you, by the small steps of progress that you have made.

Lastly, we actually have to make the choice to enter the process of spiritual de-cluttering. It doesn’t happen by itself. In my basement are boxes that are still unpacked after living in this house for nearly 7 years. Strangely, they haven’t unpacked and de-cluttered themselves! It won’t happen unless I take the step to address it.

Usually, when I make the decision to de-clutter a spot in my house, it’s because I’m tired of the mess. I finally want to do something about it. I decide to make the time. Almost always I’m grateful I did. It’s actually freeing.

Now, spiritual de-cluttering is much more difficult. It’s what we can also call cultivating an emotionally healthy spirituality. Emotional health and spiritual maturity go hand in hand. Chances are, whatever spiritual clutter you have to deal with has piled up over years, maybe even decades. If you choose to start this process, you will likely feel worse before you feel better. No one enjoys looking into the depths of their hearts. But if you enter this process aware that you do so with Christ himself as your strength and guide, you can be sure that the truth of who he is and what he can do in you will indeed set you free.

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