There are days when I want to open my door and ask strangers to come in and take my stuff (however, that was not an invitation <smile>). We don’t need many of the things we have in our house. We might like them, but we don’t need them; and, after several Christmases, birthdays, plus all the things we both owned when we got married, we are swimming in a sea of clutter. We have plenty of books, media, and, thanks to my husband’s computer skills, we also have old computer parts lying around.
Early on in our marriage, gifts seemed so important to me. I’m not talking about the random forget-me-nots (such as flowers or a special candy treat) – I’m talking about the main giving holidays: Christmas, our anniversary, and birthdays. Still getting to know each other, we took a limited amount of money and bought a lot of small, random gifts. After a few years of marriage have gone by, we’re starting to think outside of the box (literally). When I’m tempted to buy him an item because it’s something I think he’ll like, I remember all the other things that he “liked” when he opened them… and which he has not looked at again. Likewise, I have items from him that are in a closet, box, or are so hidden in the basement that I’ve forgotten completely about them. We really did mean well when we gave each other these things… but, they ended up being clutter.
Clutter will take an emotional toll on your home. It does not sound like a topic of importance, especially when you’re young and especially when you don’t have a whole lot of stuff. It is tempting when you are young to pursue accumulating things. In a sense, it makes you feel like you are conquering adulthood. When you have lots of things in your home, it can feel like a sign of accomplishment. However, after a while, you’re going to get sick of all the things in your life that take your attention.
I’m not suggesting that you dump everything that entertains you (unless the Lord has already led you to give up something that is taking a significant amount of your time – i.e., TV, video games, etc.). Yet, a clean, uncluttered home brings a sense of peace to your life – not to mention it is easier to maintain. When you are saddled with too many things, you can get to the point that cleaning consists of simply moving clutter from one room to another.
Interestingly, the people I know that seem to be happiest are the ones who live minimally. I’m not saying that they don’t buy hair care products or never bathe. I’m talking about the people who carefully choose the items they bring into their lives and who have a limited amount of stuff in each room. They are happy with one or two decorations per room versus fifty small “pretties.” And if you enjoy those pretties decorating each room, I’m not condemning you for a second. As long as those pretty things have a place and they are not cluttering your life, then that is fine. However, if you have a good number of things, even if arranged nicely, and you want to downsize your life, then I would recommend going through each item together and determining which things you want to keep and things with which you could easily part. Clearing and cleaning out your home does bring peace. It’s amazing how much easier it is to be content with less rather than with more.
Additionally, it is easy to get into the idolatry of stuff. Accumulating more stuff is not the mission for what God has called us. Our accumulation of stuff can even prohibit us from accomplishing what God would have us do – either because we are too worried about losing our stuff or we spend too much time maintaining it or using it. As a steward of the finances with which the Lord is entrusting you, make sure that you carefully decide those items you allow into your life. Even if they are good items – they can take up your time and distract you.
The sign on the church near our home currently says, “The best things in life aren’t things.” It is absolutely true. Instead of giving store-bought gifts, consider giving creative gifts that involve your time and creating memories. Those gifts often also have the benefit of being cheaper as well. Things are nice for a moment, but memories last forever.
Do you find your residence is filled with what you need with some of what you want or is your life being overrun by clutter by gratifying every desire?