When it comes to simplifying, one of the first things people want to talk about is STUFF. How do I get rid of my stuff? How do I clean out my closet? How do I let go of sentimental items? How do I organize all my piles and piles of STUFF?
It’s totally understandable to want to tackle simplifying your space right away. Physical clutter is a lot easier to organize and throw away than mental clutter, so it’s a natural starting point on the journey to more simple living. It can also be a lot easier to fight for our mental, emotional, and spiritual simplicity when the physical space right in front of us is clean, organized, and simplified.
Don’t miss this but, friend. It’s a big but.
Simplifying, decluttering, organizing and minimizing are all temporary solutions to a deeper heart problem.
That’s why your house never stays decluttered and organized, right? There’s always other stuff creeping in. It creeps in from well-meaning gifts from your in-laws or in the school bags of your children to those bewilderingly expensive trips to Target (“I just went in for peanut butter and dog biscuits...how did I end up spending $67.19?!”) and that stuff you bought at your friends’ Pampered Chef party because you felt subtly pressured.
The clutter in our homes is often just a physical manifestation of the clutter in our hearts.
We don’t get rid of gifts from family members (even if it’s something we don’t want or use) because we don’t want to make them feel bad, or we don’t want to feel guilty.
We can’t bear to part with any piece of paper our children bring home because that would mean we were bad parents, right?
We fill our Target carts with all sorts of knick knacks and scented candles and scarves because having THOSE things will make our homes and closets more Pinterest-perfect, and having a Pinterest-perfect homes means our family will be Pinterest-perfect too, right?
We buy things at product parties because we don’t want to look like a bad or uncaring friend.
At the roots of nearly all our clutter are heart problems. So don’t attack your clutter without getting your heart ready for the fight.
Here’s where the Gospel comes back in. We know that our approval and worth comes from Christ, and not other people. Therefore, we are free to let go of physical items that we are keeping out of fear that their absence would create an absence of love or acceptance from our friends or family.The Gospel frees us from that fear. We know that our ultimate satisfaction and joy comes from Christ, not material possessions. Therefore, we don’t have to fill our homes with pretty, expensive or trendy things in order to be content.
After getting our hearts in the right place, we can evaluate the things in our home based on how useful they are, whether or not they bring us joy, what purposes they serve, what emotions they evoke, etc. That’s easier said than done, though, so I created a helpful printable that you can use to simplify your space!
Ultimately, having a simple space begins inwardly with the Gospel and overflows into an outward reality of simplicity. Decluttering our hearts from fear, guilt, and striving creates room for the freedom and beauty of the Gospel. A heart that has cultivated contentment can create a simplified space with ease.