It’s March and I'm hoping I'm not the only one who cannot find their guide to the declutter challenge started in January. I feel confident it's on the bed in the spare room. I'm sure it was tossed there along with some junk mail and displaced craft supplies in a flurry of tidying up for guests. I could get to it if I had to. As soon as I moved the boxes that haven't made it to Goodwill and that bag of yarn for that afghan I haven't finished yet. Those rooms that we can close the doors to, make tidying up in a pinch easy; baskets of laundry to the bedroom, clear the tables, clear the counters, no time to find a home for the items? Toss them in a room and threaten my family with death or dismemberment if they open that door. The guests see organized beauty; no clutter, no junk. They go home oblivious to the turmoil awaiting me when it's time to find that bill that was on the counter in that pile of mail.
I started the challenge off strong. The bedroom closet was the first area of attack. Once my rational self, convinced my hopeful self that 25- year-old "baby weight" wasn't likely to come off any time soon, I was able to purge two trash bags full of clothes. I was motivated and energized by the accomplishment of having an organized closet with plenty of room and items easy to find. The bathrooms were easy; after all, most of the items told me if they were trash or not by their expiration dates. (Cold and flu season of 2012 must have been a rough one.)
The kitchen was next on the agenda and a little more difficult. I have a strong affinity for dishes, coffee mugs and water bottles, but I purged on anyway. When I got discouraged, I'd watch an episode of Hoarders or Tidying Up with Marie Kondo and return to fill another box for Goodwill. By the end of cabinet day, I was thrilled that storage containers no longer fell out on my feet and my favorite coffee mugs were in reach.
Then it was time for the drawers. I have seven drawers in my kitchen. How could so much stuff fit in seven drawers? Dealing with the minutia was going to be time consuming, frustrating and boring. Bread ties, birthday candles, take out menus, old refrigerator magnets and baby spoons. What am I to do with the baby spoons that have been in that back section of the silverware organizer for over 20 years? I know, they should be safely tucked away in some beautiful baby box. That box does exist. If I could find exactly where it is in the storage unit, it likely would take a grappling hook and harness to scale past Christmas trees, old year books and sleeping bags to reach it. I thought about skipping the drawers. Their organization wasn’t that important to the functioning of the house. Sure, sometimes I get agitated digging around trying to find something or get really frustrated when a drawer won’t shut because something is hung up in the back. I wanted to just close the drawers and go about my day, forgetting about the hidden mess.
I’ve done that with my mind and my heart. There have been issues that I thought were just too difficult to deal with, things that should remain secret, things I was ashamed of. I kept my living room face on for everyone else and the drawers shut, but I had to live in the overwhelming mess. I kept shoving more in and closing the door, but eventually, my heart’s junk couldn’t be contained and spilled out as anger and depression.
The thing is, we can’t hide those messes from God, nor does He want us to. He doesn’t care about our living room faces, He sees right through them. He wants us to come to Him with our mess. His love is not dependent on how well we can keep it together. His strength shows in our weakness. That’s where He works. In fact, God loves a mess more than Marie Kondo. And just like Marie Kondo can’t teach you how to fold your pants vertically unless you invite her in, God can’t tidy up your heart unless you ask Him into your mess. You don’t have to be embarrassed, He knows about all our messy parts. Pour out your junk drawers, cry out to him about those hurts, behaviors, habits or even people you can’t seem to purge from your life, but know that you should. Let Him stand in that spare room with you. He knows you are overwhelmed and that you don’t know where to start. Just ask Him and He will lovingly and gently take you on a declutter journey of the heart where you will find unbelievable freedom.
Carla Edmisten lives in Ladysmith, VA with her family. She is a social worker, writer and speaker. Invite Carla to speak at your event, get more information here.