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A look through one woman’s discovery on what the Bible says about clutter and how it changed her life.
One day in early July I walked downstairs to get to the washer and dryer. I tried so hard to just look straight ahead and ignore the mess of overflowing stuff that was creeping toward me. I nearly cried from the overwhelm.
It was so frustrating to me that even when I was in my neat upstairs space, it felt crowded and troubling because I knew what was one floor below. Chaos is stressful, whether it’s in the form of a cluttered space in the home or an overwhelmed schedule or a box of colored pencils out of rainbow order.
One Bible Verse Changed All That
A few weeks back I was
bargaining with God praying. I had made a list up of all the items in the house I could sell to help us achieve our goal of being debt free. We were going the Dave Ramsey route of selling so much stuff that the kids think they’re next.
I also had a second list going that was all the things we would not be getting rid of, no matter what. Shh, don’t tell Dave.
A couple of days later I was reading Matthew 19 and verse 22 jumped out at me. I went so far as to read it in multiple translations, just to see if there would be a less convicting version.
Spoiler alert: there wasn’t.
Picture it. This well dressed young man approaches Jesus and earnestly asks what he has to do to get to heaven. Jesus walks him through the Biblical mandates and the man is feeling pretty good about himself because he’s got all his bases covered up until this point.
Then he takes it further and asks Jesus what else he can do, to be even better. Jesus tells him to go home and sell all his stuff and give the money to the poor. And he walked away sad because he had many things.
The dude led a privileged, cluttered life and his stuff was stopping him from following Jesus fully. Ouch.
There was just no doubt in my mind what the Bible says about clutter after reading that.
My Clutter Was Stopping Me From Serving Jesus Fully
It hit me like a ton of bricks. And when I read it repeatedly in other translations, the Truth felt even weightier. That was me. I was the rich young ruler.
I could follow the other commands relatively well by God’s grace. But part with my stuff? Release my clutter? Let’s not get hyper-spiritual about all of this. Jesus doesn’t actually care about my basement, does He?
Maybe not. But He does care that I’m all in on this faith journey as His Bride. My time on this earth is my journey down the aisle to Him, the Bridegroom, and He doesn’t want me distracted.
I could see so clearly how my stuff was distracting me; it was stopping me from serving Him fully.
I would spend hours of every month sorting my stuff.
And tell a friend I didn’t have time for coffee when they were going through a rough patch.
I would go buy something at the store because I couldn’t find it in my home, even though we already owned it.
And not have enough money to send to a missionary who was short on funds that month.
I would feel stressed by all of the stuff and still want to shop for more.
And my frustration would bleed out into my home and onto my children.
It was increasingly apparent as I prayed about it that my clutter was breeding chaos and I needed to bring some order to our home, and my life.
So I Made Some Space By Letting Go
When my aunt flew down to visit us, she asked what project we could work on. She later admitted to me that she never thought the basement could get this organized. Little did she know, I had a motivation that was bigger than the piles of stuff for the first time in my life.
Are the items in this box enhancing our family life and culture?
Is this item making my life easier, or is it a tool I use as a wife or mom to better serve my family?
Does this stuff help equip me for my calling? Or anyone else in the house for theirs?
Will it save us resources in the near future to hold onto this? Is it prudent to save it for a future need?
Will getting rid of this free me up to have more time with my family, less stress about stuff, and help me follow Jesus more fully?
What Did I Choose To Keep?
I kept clothes. With 8 kids, hand-me-downs are a budget necessity. I kept holiday decorations. While not essential to life, they certainly do bring us joy. I just kept fewer of them.
I kept crafting supplies and games. I kept pens and paper and crayons. I’m a homeschooling mama and this kind of thing is part of our family culture and education plan.
But more importantly, I kept my vision. I kept my values. I kept my mission.
If you don’t know what yours are, I’ve got a free workbook to help you figure it out in the Graceful Abandon Community Library. It’s incredibly helpful to all areas of life…even cleaning out the basement.
Because I knew who I wanted to be, what we wanted our family to be, and what we are called to do, I had guidelines to attach to what had to leave and what could stay.
I no longer wanted to be a rich young ruler, sad because I had too much clutter in my life to serve Jesus unreservedly.
What Did I Choose To Eliminate?
I tossed out so much stuff I don’t know where to start. Tchotchkes that I boxed up so they wouldn’t get broken by a kid (a lot of good they did in a box, huh?) went to the thrift store. Extra furniture that wasn’t being used got sold (debt-free, baby!).
Clothes that were too worn out to pass on was cut up for rags or thrown out. Items that were broken and never got fixed went straight to the curb.
It amazed me how much more free I felt with each box or bag that left our home. I had no clue that I clung so dearly to broken things from my past.
There’s a lesson in there, isn’t there? The rich young ruler probably cared less about his stuff and more about the security it gave him.
What is it about our hearts that make us cling to things that break, fade, and wear out so tightly that we won’t let go enough to grab the hand of the Master?
Don’t Be A Rich Young Ruler
It’s so hard to let go of the things we can touch and release them for the intangible. But it’s so liberating. Jim Elliot said it best. Let’s let go of what we can’t keep anyhow, and cling to what we can never lose.
- Pray and ask for God’s help. He’s got grace a’plenty for you, sweet sister.
- Join the Graceful Abandon Community for access to the library where you can get your free Vision & Mission workbook.
- Print it out and fill it in.
- Go through your home and get rid of the non-essentials that aren’t aligned with your vision and mission. This can be one item a day, or one item a week.