One of the statements I consistently get at events (or even at church) is: “Wow. So, your house must be perfect all of the time …”
Um … no.
- If you saw my garage, you would know that, while I’m exponentially better than I was 10 years ago, I’m still a work in progress.
- I still live in my house. Therefore, there is clutter.
Yes — I am the anti-clutter queen. I will rail against clutter and the effects that it has on our hearts, minds and spirits until my dying day. But you see, in reality there are a couple of different kinds of clutter:
- The clutter of life.
- And the life-stopping clutter that shuts us down.
So how do you recognize the difference between the clutter of life and the life-stopping clutter that shuts us down?
1. The clutter of life has relationship baked into it.
For instance, the clutter of life is baking cookies for or with people you love. It’s the fairy tent that you built with your child and let them keep up for several days even though it is in the middle of the living room.
But the life-stopping clutter is the pile of unpaid bills in the middle of said living room that taunts you every time you walk by it. It accuses you of being a loser who doesn’t deserve nice things. Ever.
When you are creating clutter and building relationships at the same time, that is the kind of clutter that is temporary, fun and freeing. That is the kind of mess that needs to be encouraged.
2. The clutter of life is the mess we make when we don’t give up.
So much of the life-stopping clutter is when we have just given up on a situation — or worse — given up on ourselves.
The clutter that hurts us is not produced when we’ve tried and failed, but the times we’ve tried, failed and didn’t try again (and held onto the evidence for too long as a reminder).
So, you tried painting and it didn’t turn out. That happens.
Now, you have two choices:
- Try again.
- Or give away all the canvases,paints, easels and brushes to someone who would enjoy painting.
Any other decision (leaving it out, packing it away in the garage) means that it will become life-sucking and therefore, the bad kind of clutter.
3. The clutter of life is created in the present.
One of the things I hate about many clutter books is the sense that we need to live all-or-nothing lives. They teach that the ultimate goal for a clutter free home is to get it to the point where it looks like no one lives there.
To me, that defeats the whole purpose of creating a clutter free life: Freedom.
And freedom isn’t only doing what God has designed you to do in your life, in your ministry and in your family. It is also being at peace knowing that what you are doing is the right thing, even if it doesn’t fit your mental picture of “the right thing.”
Freedom really looks like being at peace when our lives, our parenting, and our homes don’t look like other people’s — not even those of our favorite people on HGTV.
My friend Jami tackles this concept head on in her new book, Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors. She embraces the idea that our parenting doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s to do our best job loving our children into adulthood. (Plus, she gives us the freedom to know that it’s not all up to us.) If you are looking for a funny and freeing read, grab this book.
Here is what I know when it comes to parenting and clutter: There is the clutter that drug me down for so many years, and the clutter that built my relationships with my kids.
Don’t get the two confused. One will limit your life. The other? Is life.
Comment below by sharing one way you can increase the good clutter in your life and you’ll be entered to win one of five copies of “Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors” or our grand prize of the book and the Shark Steam Pocket Mop Hard Floor Cleaner with Swivel Steering XL Water Tank.
She and her husband Roger are the parents of four young adults in San Jose, CA. When she’s not dating her husband or hanging out with her puggle Jake, Kathi is speaking at retreats, conferences and women’s events across the US.