How I decluttered my faith and found this one true thing
A couple years ago, Marie Kondo captivated me with The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
Filled with adventure, decluttering, and searches for what “sparks joy,” her message of simplifying resonated with me, though not for the reason you might think. Like her many readers, I’d gone through my own adventure of simplifying…only I hadn’t simplified my home or my schedule. I’d simplified my faith. The process so profoundly altered me that I wrote about my journey in Alter Girl: Walking Away From Religion Into the Heart of Faith.
I actually didn’t realize at first that my faith needed simplifying. My east coast Catholic upbringing was a strong and good one. Throughout the years, I wore several colors of plaid uniforms, went to Mass every Sunday and on Holy Days of Obligation, prayed the rosary, novenas and Stations of the Cross. I was happily devout and loved mingling with other like-minded happily devout Catholics.
In fact, I was so busy being religious, I forgot why I did all those things to begin with. It wasn’t until I moved out West and started dating a nondenominational Protestant that I gave it serious thought. Early in our relationship, Dean would ask me simple questions like, “Why do you do that?” I was challenged and rather offended. I’d never fielded questions like that, and my answers ranged from “because” to “that’s our tradition” to an exasperated “I don’t know!” After 18+ years of being a nearly straight-A Catholic student, I seemed to be failing the test.
Perhaps I did need to reexamine my practices. Perhaps in Marie Kondo-style I needed to take out all my religious stuff and review “what truly sparks joy?” What habits were I doing just because, and which ones genuinely touched my heart? Aided by these questions, I reevaluated and decluttered all the religious frippery until eventually my faith became simple, straightforward and personal. It all came down to a deep abiding friendship Jesus. He is the Main Thing.
In Alter Girl, I share the full, messy details of this decluttering process in hopes of inviting others to do the same. If your faith has evolved from the traditions of your childhood, or if you’ve experienced a time of spiritual questioning, you’ll relate to my journey of undoing and redoing.
And if you’re reading this right now and the idea of simplifying your faith touches a chord, I encourage you to engage in a little decluttering yourself. Seek the practices that truly touch your heart and pull you into a deeper friendship with Jesus. Then freely release all the rest.