I’ve never understood how people can live in a mess. Not just those featured on episodes of “Hoarders,” but even a little bit of clutter. I don’t say this to criticize…in fact, it’s more of a confession about my perfectionistic tendencies and inability to relax when things aren’t in order. I truly believe this stems from other times in my life when it was out of control and I had no ability to manage what was going on. That feeling of not having control over things doesn’t sit very well with me.
So imagine someone managing to get through life when it’s a mess, who can barely relax just because a piece of paper is on the floor or she notices a picture frame has been turned slightly off center.
Life can get messy. People can be messy. Circumstances can turn messy. How does one learn to live in a mess?
I’m still trying to figure that one out. I don’t pretend to have all the answers—or even some of them. But here’s some things I’ve learned as I have been taking this journey…especially in the past several months.
Keep in mind that I’m applying some decluttering rules to the struggles we find living in a messy world/situation/family, etc.
1) Don’t Hold Onto Things that Serve No Value/Purpose. Just as it’s pointless to hold onto a pair of jeans you wore 20 years ago and are unlikely to fit in again (or even if you do, they’ll probably be out of style), don’t hold onto anger…worry…fear…you get the picture. If it doesn’t add value to your life or doesn’t serve a good purpose, get rid of it. The mess may not entirely go away but you’ll certainly feel better getting rid of these things.
2) Don’t Keep Things Out of a Sense of Guilt. That sweater Aunt Mindy knitted that you’ll never wear…the ugly knickknack that doesn’t fit in with your décor…the perfume that makes you gag…items you keep out of a sense of guilt because someone else bought them only adds to the clutter. The same is true with guilt over circumstances in life. It doesn’t make the messy any better. It accumulates in the soul and adds to the clutter in your mind.
3) Put Things Back Where They Belong. Maintenance can go a long way in keeping a home clean and organized. Putting things away after using them and in the right spot can eliminate a lot of clutter. The same principle is true when it comes to life. We need to put things where they belong—in the hands of Jesus. Whether it’s our marriage, children, job, dreams, or anything else that seems messy.
4) Throw Away Junk. Sometimes we hold onto things that are nothing but junk because they’re broken, rusted, or otherwise subpar. Throw it away. Get rid of the trash that’s filling your mind. Throw away wrong thoughts. Dispose of wrong attitudes. Toss out wrong beliefs.
5) Don’t Allow Anything In That You Don’t Need. We can declutter all we want. But if we start bringing in more things that aren’t necessary, we’re back to square one. It’s up to us to keep out anything we don’t need—which could be a toxic relationship or a bad habit. Starting something new (such as smoking) to deal with a current stressor won’t fix anything. Allowing people into your life who only make the mess messier definitely won’t help.
In this life we can find ways to manage the mess…but that starts with seeking God’s help. What decluttering rules can you apply to your messy life?