Spiritual Chaos: Strangling Our Faith With Clutter

When we think about clutter, we think about the stuff strewn about that takes up too much space in our lives. We imagine the homes and lives on shows like Hoarders: Buried Alive. A lot of times, when we watch shows like those, we sit back in judgment, patting ourselves on the back in congratulations that our homes have not reached the point of the individual's on the show.

What we don't know is that clutter in all forms strangles our lives, even if it isn't in the gross amounts displayed in a freak show format on a cable television show. No, it doesn't take as much as one might think to drown the spirit. Think about it. If an individual can drown in only an inch of water, think about how much clutter it actually can take to drown our lives?

I had mentioned just this morning to my roommate about how the Bible talks about all things in moderation. People use that phrase a lot for things like drinking and eating, but it goes for all aspects of life. Especially for personal possessions. 

Let's think about this one for a moment. When you look at mid-century homes, they are not the size of the McMansions you see today. Yet, many families were larger than those of today, living in much smaller living quarters, often with only one bathroom serving possibly a family of five or six on a busy school morning. And if you look at the closets in those homes, none came with the massive walk-in structures that are now standard in today's homes. 

Why the change? The term "keeping up with the Jones's" seems to keep coming up. The more you buy, the more room you are going to need to hold that stuff. A friend who cleans homes for a living sent me a text one day last week, telling me she was cleaning a home with ten bedrooms. Yet, there were only two people living in the home. My head could not comprehend why two people would need to own such a monstrosity for just themselves, except for some sort of status symbol, or to hold clutter. It could be one or the other, and it could be both. You never know.

When people look at the size of their homes and the possessions within them, they do see status symbols and the wealth they have built up, but they don't see something else: they've replaced the spiritual aspect of their hearts with the idol of clutter. When you put this in a Biblical perspective, Exodus 20:3 states Thou shalt have no other gods before me. (KJV) 

Let's break it down. The definition of idol is an image or representation of a god used as an object of worship or a person or thing that is greatly admired, loved, or revered. Possessions are objects and things. When we start to hang tightly to them and place them before anything else, then we are making them idols. 

In Matthew 19:16-22, Jesus encounters a rich young ruler who asks him what great thing could he do to have eternal life. Jesus told him that he would need to follow the commandments. This is how the conversation played out from there:

He said to Him, “Which ones?”
Jesus said, “‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” 
The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”
Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
While reading The Flylady's book, Body Clutter, I began to see how my mind and body reflected the clutter that had built up around me. My emotional and mental stress was only a reflection of the mounds of paper and stuff that took up way too much space in my home and life, and strangled my personal being. It did not allow me to live in a way that would free me to be who I was able to be. Once I was able to start releasing the physical stuff from my life, the mental and physical started to melt away. But once the clutter began to creep back into my life, the mental and physical baggage crept back in, as well.

While completing the study Live Full, Walk Free by Cindy Bultema, I started wondering if maybe physical and emotional clutter had anything with spiritual clutter, as well. I tried to research it, but it was interesting how outside distractions started popping up in the process of that research to block me from being able to perform it. Something told me in my heart that there was something to this idea that maybe clutter can strangle our spiritual walk.

Let's think of it this way, when you fill up your life with stuff, whether physical or emotional, you begin to run out of room for other things in your life. For example, have you ever felt so exhausted at the end of the day after a full day at work, coming home to run those errands, taking the kids to soccer practice, then making dinner, cleaning up after dinner, getting them to bed, and realizing that there was no time to get in that 30 minutes on the treadmill? That is how it happens. We simply fill our lives with so much, that we run out of room for the important things.

Right now, I am home with only a job search, a couple of odd jobs, and my blogs to manage, yet I find myself pushing my personal time to the side. My office is a mess with papers strewn all over the place, file folders emptied on the floor, and boxes now unpacked in the middle of the floor. All of this after doing a fabulous job of decluttering and reorganizing it just a few months ago. And I don't have children, a job, or a husband to manage to prevent me from doing those things. Yet, I still manage to allow clutter to prevent my life from being fulfilled.

And when I sit back and review my life, my spiritual life has suffered the most through it all. Yes, I have completed Bultema's study, but I have not started another. I've backslid and caught myself acting like the Corinthians that Paul had to write a scathing letter to get them to straighten their act back up. (For the women, I highly recommend the study I mentioned above). When I am not allowing the clutter, the world, or the mental fuzziness take over, I am able to close my eyes and focus on the cross and breath in the light of Christ. It the most peaceful and refreshing drink of water I've ever tasted in my life. And I'm at peace, and I don't understand why I keep kicking that feeling to the curb. It just makes me shake my head each time.

But let me leave you with this. 

No one in this world needs a 10 bedroom house with 7 bathrooms to fill with things they don't need. Madison Avenue fills us daily with lies that nobody needs to hear. We have super-sized closets that don't need to be brimming to the rims, and we don't need to have the latest and greatest. The thing we need the most is family, friends, and most of all, God.