Sunday, March 1, 2015

The spiritual side of decluttering

This post will be more about questions than answers. Thinking "out loud"... maybe starting a conversation? Because I sure don't have this all sorted.

I have plenty of my own trash that needs to go out.

I've read a couple of the latest books on decluttering. They come from very different standpoints, but I'm intrigued by what they have in common... which is something I haven't really seen addressed before. They both bring in the spiritual.

The books:
Amazon link 
Amazon link

Who hasn't heard of Marie Kondo's book? Her prose and her method are simple, and the book is short. I'm seeing Instagram photos of people's closets and drawers hashtagged #konmari. I've even heard it discussed on podcasts. However, the discussions always get to the exceptions people are making for themselves from Kondo's method; for instance, "I don't greet my house when I come home." More about that later.

The coauthors of Breathing Room are a "spiritual intuitive" and a psychiatrist. It's a much denser, more complicated book than Kondo's. I had to force myself to keep reading, to the point where I wasn't finished when it came due at the library, and I turned it in with a sense of relief. This isn't a review of the book; I just want to point out that their method has far more to do with the emotional and spiritual causes of clutter than any physical method of clearing it. A reviewer on Amazon says the spiritual principles in it are Buddhist.

And, the spiritual principles in Kondo's book are Shinto. I've heard people try to dismiss her approach to objects as merely cultural, but they must be ignoring Kondo's statement that she starts each decluttering project in her business by kneeling in the center of the house and praying to it.

Now, I'm not about to go off on a rant. I'm just establishing that these authors have found, in practical experience with their clients, that decluttering success involves spirituality.

Could there be a lesson here for me, as a Christian, in my struggle with clutter?

I think so.

If there's a spiritual component to clutter and decluttering, we ought to be able to come at it from a Christian point of view. Maybe that would help?

Basic tenet from Jesus: "'s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." (Luke 12:15, ESV)

Forgetting that is one cause of clutter. Forgetting it can also make it hard to declutter, if part of the problem is a difficulty in letting go of things. These aren't the only issues, for sure. I have a complicated mix of motivations and hangups that go into my clutter problem, and I'm sure it'll be different mixes for different people.

Here's ALL of Luke 12:15:
15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
Being covetous can be a root of clutter. It's a sad fact that I often buy yarn faster than I can knit it up, books faster than I can read them. Just yesterday I almost bought a new journal even though I'm only four pages into the current one.

Does covetousness also make it hard to let go?

Let's brainstorm: spiritual issues that make it hard to declutter.

  • Fear (of needing something after it's discarded, etc.)
  • People-pleasing (I can't get rid of that--Mom/Grandma/Aunt Betty gave it to me)
  • Clinging to the dream or fantasy that caused you to acquire the item in the first place

Let's see more ideas in the comments.

Of course there are non-spiritual roadblocks too. Time, energy, all that. Getting around to it.

Here's an idea though: I'm thinking it might be good to start a decluttering project by kneeling in the middle of the house and praying not to the house, but to our Lord, for His aid in overcoming whatever it is we need to overcome within ourselves to succeed at decluttering.

I'd love to see comments... what are your thoughts?

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