In my Sunday School class right now, we are studying Courtney Ellis’ book Uncluttered: Free Your Space, Free Your Schedule, Free Your Soul. Every week, the members of our Uncluttered class read about uncluttering and talk about uncluttering. We also make a commitment every week to do the actual work of uncluttering. We make action steps, we commit to them out loud, and we know that we will have to be honest with our groups the next week if we didn’t do what we said we were going to do. My action step for three weeks has been to clean out the bottom of my closet.
I’ve had the same action step for three weeks because it has taken me that long to make the time to do the work.
While my husband was out of town on a retreat with our confirmation class, I decided I had no more excuses to avoid tackling the mess in the bottom of my closet. To be more honest, I didn’t want to come back to the Uncluttered class for the third week in a row and have to admit that I hadn’t followed through on my action plan yet again. So, I carved out an hour, and I did the work.
Here’s what I discovered:
- It didn’t take nearly as long as I expected it to. I have no idea why I didn’t do it sooner.
- Being able to get my shoes out without having to search for them first is awesome.
- I own eight pairs of flip flops, which is ridiculous.
Discovery #1 highlighted for me the truth that we make time for what is important to us in our lives. If it had really been a priority for me, I would have cleaned out my closet sooner. It had only taken me an hour when I finally decided to do it. We make time for what is important to us. Are you filling your time with what’s important to you?
Discovery #2 has been fun. It is so much easier to get ready in the morning.
Discovery #3 has opened my eyes. It is important for me to tell you that I can’t wear flip flops at all. I injured the arch of my foot years ago, and now I can’t wear shoes without arch support. There is no reason for me to own flip flops at all, let alone eight pairs. I might need one pair to use as shower shoes at the pool, but that would be about it. And yet, I have eight pairs of flip flops in the bottom of my closet.
The reason I have kept those flip flops (besides my closet being such a mess I couldn’t find them…) is because my dad bought them for me when he took trips to Brazil. I have kept them because I have an emotional response when I see them. But, here’s the thing: hanging onto those shoes for emotional reasons doesn’t make them useful to me. They aren’t helpful. They are taking up space. They are taking up room in my heart (and in my closet) that needs to belong to something (Someone) else.
I wonder if this is what Jesus meant when he said this in Matthew 6:19-21:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
I wonder if by storing up a cluttered junk pile in my closet, I have prevented myself from storing up other things that are more important.
I wonder if by cramming our spaces and our places full of things, we are preventing ourselves from having the space to live, the space to breathe, and the space to be.
My goal for this week is to get rid of all the flip flops except one pair. One pair for trips to the pool, but the rest need to go. The space needs to be freed up for what matters and what lasts. What is taking up room in your home and heart that doesn’t need to be there? Let’s make space.