I started this project last year. I had the best of intentions to completely declutter my house. Why? Because I wanted to spend quality and a quantity of time with my children that I haven’t been able to give them before. I started out really well. Decluttered about 20 bags of clothes. Then….found out I was expecting.
Fast forward one year.
Sweet baby #6 had a safe arrival. I was anxious to get back to work and get the house to where I wanted it. I claim to be a minimalist but with a half dozen kids that can be hard. For Lent this year my eldest daughter asked me to give up Facebook. When I told her I would she was elated. And just like that I had loads of extra time on my hands. We took one room a day and wore ourselves out pitching and donating.
I. Was. Brutal.
And you know who was more brutal than I was? My kids! They were anxious to get rid of everything so they wouldn’t have to clean every day! I tried hard to keep the things that would be sentimental and get rid of all the excess. However, I’m sure I got rid of things that would make others cringe. Heck, I went to put the spare sheets on our bed only to find out I had donated them. It wasn’t fun paying for new bed sheets but I don’t regret being so hard core against the clutter. It was something that needed to be done.
I don’t have any special advice. Maybe you don’t mind living with a lot. However, all the clutter was affecting my relationships with others. I never felt like anybody wanted to come over to the ‘messy’ house. It also affected my spiritual life. If I wanted to sit down and read the word or pray my eyes and mind would wander to the large pile of dirty clothes or the toys lining the hallway.
The thing that hit the hardest was when I realized I was “the rich man.”
And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And 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 mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
(Matthew 19:16-24 ESV)
I had all these possessions. Even gifts from others. I didn’t want to offend anybody if they would come to our house and not see what they had gifted us. I mean, that’s rude, right? So I kept everything. Trying to please others while this entire time I was keeping us in misery. My family didn’t want more “things” they wanted relationships. Who cares if you have beautiful china if you have no one to serve?
It took a month and I’m honestly not even 100% done now. I think this will be in progress for a long time. And I’m okay with that. It’s always good to reevaluate our “needs.” I’m hoping, if anything, this teaches my kids that relationships come before anything else.
For your entertainment, and to let you know you’re not alone, here are some of our before and afters.
By the way, anybody want an exercise machine?
Now here are some afters that never had a before picture taken. I’m sure you can use your imagination.
Now, I want to remind you that I am no “little miss perfect.” Just cause I can clean up and take a picture does not mean it looks like this all the time. I’m taking time to write this blog post right now so clearly something is getting ignored. I would much rather my house be dirty than my children’s hearts be burdened. So I will choose my family over a clean house every time. I couldn’t have said that before because I wanted to please my guests to no end. If you happen to be somebody who is obsessed with your house being perfect, let it go. Stop making others feel so inadequate around you. We all fail somewhere. I don’t want to be jealous of your oh-so-clean house. I want to be jealous about how you live. I want to see toys around to prove to me that your children know how to play. A kitchen that is dusted with flour because you let the kids help with dinner. Don’t read into that to deep. I do believe we should be hospitable. But just like with our faith, make the unbeliever feel welcome to be around you.
Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
(Romans 14:13-19 ESV)