Why you won't hear people talking about this REAL value of decluttering
I didn’t even hesitate when I saw the subject line in my inbox last week. With the words “The most powerful way to unclutter your life," I was promptly lured into a click. Within minutes I was reading the article and mentally taking notes about the best ways to simplify my life.
Some people like sports. Some people love fitness and diet. I get overly enthusiastic about decluttering. Last year, caught up in the thrill of sorting and purging, I might have over-zealously reduced my wardrobe so much that I couldn’t make it through the week without doing laundry.
I’m not the only one who buzzes with enthusiasm over decluttering. Since Marie Kondo wrote The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and subsequently sold over 1 million copies, many people have been tinkering with ways to simplify their possessions and schedules. This suggests that collectively we’re feeling overwhelmed, overstimulated, and generally stuffed in our daily lives.
The article about decluttering reminded me of a particularly poignant section I recently read in The Jesus-Centered Life where author, Rick, talks about how many of us are living with a “thinness of soul.”
Isn't that a good description? It’s like the more overstuffed we get on the outside, the thinner our souls get.
I don't know about you, but I experience a lot of "thin soul" days
My thin soul days are when my thoughts race (and most of them are negative and critical), and I'm buried under work and responsibilities. They're the days when I feel totally disconnected from any sense of greater purpose, and I'm both bored and overwhelmed at the same time.
Reader--I don't enjoy these thin soul days. I want the alternative, which is a life with more meaning, peace, and joy.
Which brings me back to decluttering. People like Marie Kondo will say that the point of decluttering is to discover the life you've always dreamed of. She’s not wrong…to a point. Getting rid of clutter does free up space for more meaningful and valuable pursuits. But here’s the real value in decluttering, and organizational experts will never talk about it because it's too "religious."
The real value of decluttering has nothing to do with clutter
The real value is to free up space to hear Jesus. His dream for your life is much better than anything you can come up with on your own.
I’ve been putting this value to the test over the past year or so. In addition to my overzealous wardrobe purge, I’ve been systematically cutting things out of my life. Like four of the five spatulas I own, for instance. And stacks of unfinished projects. And terabytes of emails and blog feeds. (These digital purges, I think, have been the most exhilarating! You should try it.)
As my calendar and stuff has thinned out, I’ve noticed that it’s been easier to hear Jesus speak. Because my thoughts aren’t racing around so much, his messages to me have an easier time getting through. Here are some things he’s been saying to me that I likely would’ve missed otherwise:
- “You’re putting too much pressure on yourself in this situation. I have grace for you—take advantage of it.”
- “What you’re focusing on right now isn’t actually important. Here’s what is important…”
- “Stop worrying about that. Let it go. I will take care of it for you.”
- “Why are you so willing to dismiss what I’ve put in your heart? It’s okay to trust me with what matters most to you.”
Reading between the lines, you can see what happens to me when I’m too distracted and overwhelmed to listen to Jesus: I’m weighed down by unnecessary pressure, I’m vulnerable to valuing the wrong things, I’m prone to worry, and I’m quick to repress what’s naturally in my heart in favor of what I think others expect of me. In other words, I’m overloaded with things that directly lead to more “thin soul” days.
Two things to try if you're feeling overstuffed in life
I’m not suggesting that decluttering is a one-size-fits-all route to more intimacy with Jesus. But if you sense that you're overly distracted and generally stuffed, perhaps it’s time to thin your life so that you can thicken your soul. I recommend a two-pronged approach: first, purge. You don't have to be over-zealous like me--just pick one area that's stressing you out (an overflowing closet, an out-of-control inbox) and then purge. Two, in the newly freed-up space created by purging, add new moments with Jesus. These can come from devotions, prayers, a quick dive into the Bible, or worship. Focus on his voice. He has something new to say to you--promise.