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Do You Have Too Much Stuff?

We’ve been talking about taking our thoughts captive, see Are You Scatterbrained?
and how noise effects our ability to bring our thoughts captive, See Getting Past the Noise—the Value of Silence.
We talked about how our busy-ness can hinder us from even praying and talking with God, see Too Much Stress

Today, we want to address our clutter.
You ask, “How does clutter have anything to do with our spirituality?”
A LOT!
Studies have shown our clutter adds to our anxiety, stress and feelings of overwhelm, (even our children are stressed by too many toys and choices.)
We can’t commune with God, because our stuff hinders us from getting passed it!

My sister recently introduced me to The Minimalist Mom You tube 
She describes why she became a minimalist. She could not manage her inventory.
She describes it like this: 
Everything in your house is telling you something.
Whether it’s a dirty pan by your kitchen sink telling you, “Wash me, why did you leave me to soak?” Or a vase of flowers that says, “Our Creator is so original and great. Wasn’t that a nice gift. Aren’t those great colors!”
Everything speaks.
Everything gives a message, even when it's tucked away in a closet or under your bed.
Like that blouse you bought on clearance, because it was such a deal, but you never wear. Now it tells you, “You wasted money on me. You must wear this blouse, even though you really don’t like how it looks on you.”
Those messages are not forgotten by your brain. 
They hang over you: some remind of good times, others scream that you haven’t finished that project, or even started it. 

Nowhere is this more evident than in your closet, where hangs things you bought, maybe on a whim, that didn’t really fit, doesn’t look right on you, you don’t wear, but there it hangs to remind you of your poor purchases. Or that you don’t fit in that size anymore.
The Minimalist Mom gives us permission to let those things go. 
Holding onto something because you spent money on it doesn’t help you now.
Get rid of them.
As you get rid of those things that don’t fit or don’t wear, you gain freedom—freedom not to have to spend time every day figuring out what to wear, because what you have left will be those things you enjoy. 

Be ruthless in decluttering. 
When she scaled down her closet, she spent less time getting dressed and more time doing her day.

By scaling down to only enough place settings for her family of six, she noticed how there couldn’t be stacks of dishes to be done—because she only had a few. They were easier to do.
If they didn’t wash their dish at breakfast, they wouldn’t have a dish to use at lunch.
Her inventory was manageable. (She does keep extra stored in her basement for guests.)
(Maybe you may have space to store things, but still your brain must remember you have it.
And where you put it. That gives an excuse to overspend.
She used this process to help get out of debt.

What happens when we free ourselves of our clutter? 
We have more energy for what is important.
Research has shown, removing clutter makes us more creative. 
We can do what we should.
We spend less time cleaning,
because we aren’t moving things, we are actually just cleaning.
We spend less money, because we evaluate whether this new purchase really is needed and wanted.

I decluttered a lot when we moved. But it was surprising how much I brought with me!
Our needs are different. Our family is smaller.
Without land, we don't need fencing material, or animal care, or ...
I let it go.
Even though I don't have chickens anymore, I still struggled getting rid of my chicken feeder!
Why is that?
Is that something I NEED now? NO!

My house is for living, not storing.

I've also not just decluttered for me—I don't want my family to have to do it later.
I've heard stories of grown children having to declutter their parents house (where they lived for 50 years).
No one lives close. No one wants anything. No one has time.
It's a stress!
When I've saved things for the boys for when they're "old enough", they don't want it.
Ask now and get rid of it.

SEE ARTICLES: Less Is More, Don’t Carry More than You Need, The Simple Life,

What does clutter have to do with obeying Christ?
Everything!
When we are bogged down with all this stuff—we can’t rest.
We can’t meditate.
We can’t even consider giving to God, we’re in debt to the world.

We are a slave to our things.
They master us.
And God tells us ​No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. Matthew 6:24.

Interesting how our stuff effects our spiritual life.
George Mueller, whose life was spent in prayer, didn't do anything without praying about it.
He told his wife to get rid of her "bobbles" (her family heirlooms).
Our bobbles or stuff hinder our prayers.
Ever be praying and think, "I need to buy milk" or "this thing would help make this better?"—I'm supposed to be praying! And I'm thinking about stuff!!
Our stuff hinders our prayers—not just the stuff we have, but the stuff we want!
I thought about my many "bobbles" when I was working through my decluttering. 
It was still hard to let them go.
It showed me how attached to this world I am!

We’ve attached value, not just monetary, but sentiment to our stuff.
We hang onto a memory.
Our kitchens are the worse.
Did you used to make bread, but haven’t in 10 years? 
Those bread pans can go.
I struggle for that “once a year” time when all the boys come.
Do I keep all that for just once a year, or let it go and make do for that one time?
Maybe put it in storage?
By keeping it, I must move it, look at it and struggle with it for a year—for that one time I will use it.

I’m used to stockpiling groceries.
We lived an hour from shopping and I’d shop once a month.
If we ran out, we went without until I could go again. (You can get very creative when you have to.)
I still have that mentality. Only Walmart is 5 minutes away.
Things get lost in the back of my cupboard.
I’m working to minimize my food storage—to a manageable amount.
What’s a manageable amount? 
If I can’t find what I know I have, IT'S NOT MANAGEABLE.

Nowhere is this more evident, then in my refrigerator. 
Stuff goes bad because I’ve forgotten it.
Wasted. 
Remember how everything speaks to you?
It tells me, “You’ve forgotten me again. You wasted more money! When will you learn not to get so much?”
As I’ve gone through this process of getting rid of stuff, I don’t buy as much.
I find ways to use what I have, rather than get a special gadget to do one thing.
I gained space.
And breathing room. 
Makes it easier and more pleasant to make meals.
Having my counter clutter free makes me SMILE.

I often listen to “The Minimalist Mom” you-tube as I decluttered. She has many videos. 
She helps with children's toys and clothes. (I'd done that in the past. It saved my sanity.)
She addresses sentimental things and books.
She helps with the psychological hang-ups of getting rid of stuff.
And she motivates until you are free of its burden.
Normally you go through your house one room at a time, one drawer at a time, then go back over the same drawer later. She calls it the "onion effect".
Maybe that onion effect is because you remember what you left in the drawer and think about whether you could part with it or not, even as you move to a different drawer. (So much energy is spent.)
Do it in 15 minutes increments. It is exhausting!
A faster way to declutter is to ask, "What can I do without?"
By asking,"What can I do without?" you jump past the question, "Do I need this?"  or "Do I use this?" To find ways you can use less.
Most of us aren't ready for that. We have to develop, "decluttering muscles"—confidence in our decision to part with an item.
If you are not currently using an item, it must go in one of three places: a trash bag, a donation box or a “time will tell” box.
A “time will tell” box is for those things you aren’t sure you will use in a year.
Date it. Put that box in storage. If you don’t use it within a year, donate it. 
But in the meantime, you will have space in your cupboards. 
By minimizing what stays, storage is enough (even in this old house with small closets and little storage).
Things are easy to put away (without jamming) and find (so you don’t buy duplicates because you can’t find the one you already had).

And you do find giving your stuff to someone who will actually use it is rewarding.
When we moved, we put our stuff on the roadside in front of our house.
People were ecstatic to stop and get furniture free!
It was during COVID, when shops were closed, and people were stuck in their houses. 

When unexpected visitors come, your house is ready for them.
You have time for what is important.
Your house becomes a sanctuary—a place to rest.
You can listen to what God
—not what your stuff—is saying.

I write about what matters...to you---
women, wives and moms---
about your family, faith and future.
I write about what's hard, what helps and what heals.
I show you how it's done. And not done.
I hold your hand as you find what matters to the Savior.
And let go of those things that mattered to you, but not to Him.
I write about what matters...to Him.
               Sonya Contreras


Displaying 1 comment

O.K., you inspired me. As well as the fact that next week is the MVCC yard sale, so this is the perfect time. Especially clothes that I "might" wear some day, but never seem to. I'll plan to tackle that tomorrow and Thursday. I also have a couple cabinets to go through. One decluttering tip I learned from a friend was that you do not just take out what you think you don't want, you take out everything and then are very selective in what goes back in. It really has helped me. Thanks for the encouragement.

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