Monday, October 1, 2007

From Clutter to Clarity

Simplifying Life from the Inside Out
By Nancy Twigg

When most people think of simplifying, the first thing they think of is getting rid of clutter around the home or office. Cleaning out closets and drawers is definitely a part of simplifying, but true simplification goes far deeper than that. Clutter is much more than old magazines, outdated clothes, and kitchen gadgets you never use. Certainly those things are clutter, but from now on, think of clutter as any possession, habit, thought pattern, attitude or activity that fits into one of these three categories:

* Anything you don’t need or use anymore
* Anything that doesn’t fit or work for you like it used to
* Anything that doesn’t add value and meaning to your life as it once did

Under this new definition, clutter is anything that complicates your life and stands in the way of simplicity. In the past, you may have only thought of clutter in terms of stuff: those size 6 jeans you hope to wear again someday or those unfinished projects in your garage. But let me share a secret with you. These kinds of unwanted and unneeded material possessions are only the tip of the iceberg! What about the multitude of commitments that cram-pack your schedule? What about the thoughts that jumble your mind and the spending habits that sabotage your finances? All of these things are clutter too, because they cause chaos and confusion.

When you think of clutter in this new light, you begin to see what a tremendous problem clutter truly is. You will also see that the root causes of this ugly clutter make the clutter itself look tame. Think about it. Why do you say yes to everyone who requests your time and services? Are you afraid that people won’t like you if you say no? Do you feel the need to present a Super Mom image to the world?

What about those clothes you hold onto even though you know you will never wear them again? Are you afraid that if you get rid of them you will need them again someday? If you did happen to need them, do you doubt God’s ability to provide more? And if you have a tendency to spend more than you can afford, ask yourself why you do that. Are you driven by feelings of discontentment or the need for instant gratification? Are you afraid that if you pass on a sale now you will never find a good price on that item again? These issues go much deeper than just having a messy desk or disorganized pantry. These are issues of the heart.

Clutter is a problem for anyone, but for Christians, it spells major trouble. Clutter does more than affect us physically and emotionally; it affects us spiritually because it keeps us from following Jesus fully. We simply cannot make room for him when so many other things are in the way. The more we stay focused on the junk of this life, the less time and energy we have to focus on the important matters—God and his plans for our lives.

Have you ever tried to lug an overstuffed suitcase through a crowded airport? Not an easy task, is it? No matter how hard you try, you simply cannot move quickly and efficiently when you’re carrying a heavy load. Think of clutter as baggage—physical, emotional, and financial baggage that weighs you down and holds you back. Clutter is the heavy load that keeps many of us from maneuvering effectively through our lives. Our suitcases are filled with all kinds of dead weight: habits we need to give up, attitudes we’ve long since outgrown, activities and possessions that no longer serve a reasonable purpose. If we want to lighten the load, we have to get rid of some of the junk.

What keeps you from moving forward at a steady pace in your life? Undoubtedly the things that slow you down are some kind of clutter—clutter you want to get rid of for good. Maybe you struggle with physical clutter around your home. Try as you might, you cannot seem to get organized. Or maybe you want to get a handle on your finances. You are tired of making good money but having nothing to show for it. Or maybe yours is an issue with time. You are tired of living at warp speed. You want to stop running and start living.

Whatever clutter challenges you face, trust me when I say you can learn to clarify your life by putting clutter in its place. I know because I have done it myself. My biggest clutter challenge was not dealing with cluttered living spaces or even cluttered finances. My challenge was to open up my emotional suitcase and go through its contents carefully. When I did, I discovered all kinds of clutter lurking inside. I found worry and doubt. I uncovered a faulty self-image and an inability to set appropriate boundaries. I even found an unhealthy preoccupation with what others thought of me. It was a painful process, but necessary. One by one, I learned to trade in these old clunkers for the more efficient models God offered.

I’m not saying I have it all together. Believe me, I don’t. I’m not saying I never face challenges. But I have come to a place of clarity and life is much more pleasant now that I have. Is my life perfect? No, but it is much more peaceful and purposeful. And isn’t that what we all want—to live in peace as we live out our purpose?

Excerpt taken from: From Clutter to Clarity: Simplifying Life from the Inside Out © 2007 by Nancy Twigg, published by Standard Publishing (www.standardpub.com). Used by permission. From Clutter to Clarity is available through Standard Publishing (http://www.standardpub.com/). To learn more about Nancy’s speaking ministry, visit her online at http://www.nancytwigg.com/.

1 comments:

MOMMM! said...

Excellent reminder to clear our inner junk!