Parish MagazinePrint This Page
Home Freed: the theology of declutteringJane Brocklehurst for Parish Pump
Part 2: Decluttering Old Testament Style!
The story of creation, in Genesis chapter one, describes God bringing order out of chaos. God separates different things. God puts the right things in the right places. There is light and space and air, with enough to satisfy the needs of all creatures, and room to grow. This could describe the process of decluttering as well. So the first step in the physical process is to clear a space.
This provides inspiration for the task ahead of you. Just look at the way things could be! Cleared space also offers a place to rest and think, until the chaos has been conquered. Decluttering always makes things worse before it makes them better, as the contents of overflowing cupboards, boxes, and drawers are spread out to sort in the light. It is tiring work too, with so many decisions to make about what to keep and what to do with the rest of it.
So - cherish your space!
Decluttering a whole home can be a long process, but don’t let that intimidate you. Instead, get started soon! Remember that in the book of Exodus, salvation is shown as being brought out from slavery and oppression into freedom and open space.
As the Psalmist wrote: ‘We went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a spacious place.’ Psalm 66:12
Those who market products for us to consume (even space-saving "storage solutions") want us to see space as something to fill – preferably with whatever they sell. Yet God is present in the space. We can ask our Lord, in prayer, to change our attitude towards the space in our home, so we see space as a valuable commodity, something to use creatively and to enjoy. Again, the Psalmist thanks God because: ‘You gave me a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip.’ Psalm 18:36
Once we are set free from the burden of constantly having to sort and maintain our overflow of possessions, there will be room and time to use the creative gifts that God has given to you. What are your gifts? Baking, dancing, growing vegetables, painting, storytelling, wood carving? – the list of possibilities is endless.
Look closely at the things in your house. Does each possession help you in using your God-given gifts, or slow you down by encumbering you? Aim to be set free from them for CREATIVITY, to be like our Creator God, enjoying the freedom of a simplified, uncluttered life, with time freed for what is most important.