We all have it – clutter.
It’s the stuff that’s overflowing from our closets, falling out of our cabinets and rendering our attics and garages unusable. It’s the clothes, books, movies, knick knacks and “things” that tell the stories of our lives. The stuff that we’re afraid to get rid of and the stuff we’re sure we can’t live without.
It usually accumulates slowly over time, often without us even noticing. Until one day, we realize we don’t have enough room for all our stuff, so we move into a bigger place. But then, before we know it, that space becomes filled too… and the cycle goes on and on.
It’s the message that we’re all bombarded with 24 hours a day – buy more, have more, get more. We’re made to feel like we’re missing out if we don’t have the latest phone or electronic device and we’re told the evidence of our success is based on what our possessions look like and how many of them we have.
But what if all that clutter – all that stuff – is actually standing in the way of you becoming the person that God created you to be?
You may think that sounds a little crazy… after all, it’s just “stuff,” right?
First off, clutter tends to happen when we “hoard” stuff. We continue to buy new things without getting rid of the old and eventually we end up with too much. That’s why you can barely reach into your closet anymore or your garage looks more like a storage unit than a place to park your car
But instead of getting rid of some of the things we know we don’t use, we hold on to them out of fear or the idea that we might need them at some point. So in and of itself, clutter is a representation of fear and the attempt to find satisfaction and contentment in “things” rather than in God.
No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Luke 16:13
But for me, the most surprising revelation about clutter came when I went through my own de-cluttering and downsizingprocess a couple years ago.
I had never really been into designer labels and didn’t even own an iPhone or iPad, much less need to have the latest version as soon it hit the market. My clutter seemed to have just accumulated over time without me even realizing it. So, I wasn’t too concerned about getting rid of a lot of it; I was actually pretty excited.
But what I realized as I went through my “stuff,” was that going through my physical clutter, was actually going to force me to address a lot of emotional and spiritual clutter as well.
See, I, like many people, tended to just push down my feelings and hold them inside. Part of it was conscious and part of it, I’m sure, was just my body’s natural defensive mechanism to get through all of the stressful events that had taken place.
But either way, I had ended up with a lot of pent-up emotions and unresolved feelings that were beginning to take a toll on my physical well-being. And as God was beginning to show me, on my spiritual well-being too.
As I began to wade through piles of pictures, mementos, books, letters and even clothing, a whole spectrum of emotions came up, from sadness and anger to happiness and joy. There were feelings about relationships that had ended, loved ones who had passed away, stages of life that were over and even dreams that never came to be.
Which is why clutter is about so much more than just stuff.
It is a representation of who we’ve been, where we’ve been, who we hoped we’d be, who we thought we could’ve been or should’ve been, things that once were, things that will never be again, and everything in between.
But the cool thing is, that as you actually allow yourself to feel those emotions and really sit in those feelings… as you really let yourself process those things and LET GO of them, the items themselves lose their power over you.
For instance, I had originally held onto many of my mother’s things after she passed away simply because they were hers. But as I actually went through the grieving process and let myself feel the different emotions and eventually heal, I could then look at many of the items for what they really were – just things.
And the more clutter I got rid of, the freer I felt! As I began to look at my belongings in a whole new way, God kept the momentum going and began “cleaning me up” in other areas as well.
Following His lead, I began to cut out all the toxins from my diet and the products I use on my body and around my house,and began focusing on using whole, natural products and foods instead. I stopped using over-the-counter and prescription medications and began looking at my health from a more natural perspective.
And the more I simplified my life… the more I “cleaned up and stripped down”… the more I felt my real self, my authentic self, start to emerge. I began to hear from God more clearly, I wasn’t as distracted by worldly things and I now had the energy and the focus to follow through on what He was showing me.
It was like the blinders had been pulled off and I could finally see some big secret that was being kept from all of us – that life really is so much simpler than we tend to make it. That the more we strip down, the more we simplify and get back to basics, in all ways, the easier it becomes to be the person that God created us to be.
After all, it only makes sense.
God didn’t create all of those gadgets and things, we did.
God didn’t create all of those toxic foods and products, we did.
And God doesn’t tell us to keep striving for more, more, more. We do.
The secret is actually in having less and doing less… so you can live more.
Ready to start simplifying your life? My new book, Live a F.a.s.t. Life: How Stripping Down & Cleaning Up Gave Me My Life Back, will help you get on your way! Check it out now on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and my website. And follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.
Jenn Baxter is an accomplished writer in Charlotte, NC, who has been published in numerous print and online publications, as well as featured as a columnist on Beliefnet.com. In 2015, she launched her website, Live a F.a.s.t. Life, based on her own experiences with clean living, emotional health and downsizing into a 160 sq. ft. tiny house. She released her first book, “Tiny Abundance: My Journey to a Simple, Yet Fabulously Abundant Life in 160 Square Feet” that same year and her new book, Live a F.a.s.t. Life: How Stripping Down & Cleaning Up Gave Me My Life Back, was released in December 2017. She also helps others learn to clean up their homes, their bodies and their lives in her e-course collection, “De-Clutter, De-Tox, De-Stress.” Watch video devotionals from Jenn Baxter with the FREE RefocusApp
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