Recently, my social media feeds have been filled with photos of clothing piled on beds, junk drawers dumped out on the kitchen counter, and stacks of books piled all over the living room floor. It seems like every person I know is “tidying up” their house after watching Marie Kondo’s new Netflix series, “Tidying Up.”
In both the series and her book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” she encourages people to declutter their homes in order to bring about more peace, happiness and joy in their lives. The message has obviously resonated with many, though I find myself in the category of people who are waiting for the thrift shops to fill up with all the good stuff that my neighbors are purging.
I admit to being curious as to what all the fuss was about, so I watched the first episode of the series. In it, Marie was helping a family with two rambunctious toddlers to bring order to their home.
The first thing she had them do was to close their eyes and thank their house for providing shelter and for being good to them. She then instructed the couple to pull all their clothes out and place them on the bed so that they could see all that they had accumulated.
The next step is to pick up each piece of clothing and decide whether or not it “sparks joy.” If the answer is yes, it gets put in the keep pile while it waits to be folded into one of Marie’s cute little bundles. Now, if the answer is no, it doesn’t just get tossed into the Goodwill pile. Instead, she says we must thank the item before releasing it.
This process proceeds through the rest of the house. When she got to books and suggested that we should have only 30, this homeschooling mama laughed out loud. Per child? Per shelf? Per bedside table?
Now, don’t get me wrong, after spending weeks sorting through my grandmother’s things when she moved into a senior living apartment last year, I am all for decluttering and purging. My brother and I sorted through hundreds of pairs of shoes, purses, kitchen items, junk mail and more in the sweltering heat of her storage unit. Most of what she had accumulated was thrown away or donated. I do not plan on saddling my own children and grandchildren with the same burden.
So many people, like my grandmother, purchase more and more stuff because they are looking for happiness and fulfillment through possessions. I am very much like her and have gone through stages of life where I bought more and more hoping that the stuff would fill the emptiness I felt inside. Instead, I found myself saddled with debt and surrounded by clutter that only contributed to my stress and anxiety.
But, as a Christian, I can’t help but feel like there is something wrong with Marie’s method of decluttering. Mainly, my problem is with where she focuses her gratitude. Instead of thanking the house and the inanimate objects within, Christians should be thanking God for His provision.
The Psalmist wrote about the Lord, “for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:10). We are merely temporary stewards, for everything under the sun belongs to the Lord.
James wrote that, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17). When we turn our thanks and gratitude towards God, realizing that He is the ultimate provider for all that we have, we can’t help but want to manage what we have been given wisely.”
Did you know that Jesus talked about money more than any other topic during His earthly ministry? Ultimately, poor money management is what leads us to live in cluttered filled homes in the first place.
Jesus told his followers, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).
As Christians, we are called to give to the poor and to take care of the widow and orphan. So often we claim that we don’t have the resources to do so, while we continue to purchase things we don’t need. Things that will end up filling thrift shops and landfills someday.
Marie Kondo’s way of decluttering can never bring true happiness, because it places its emphasis on the created instead of the Creator. It is only when we give thanks to God for all that we have and manage our resources within His economy that true joy can be found.
I need to be reminded of this truth on a daily basis, so I created art prints of the verses featured in today’s column to display around my house and I would love to share them with you. Just visit my blog today for your free PDF download.