Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours (Isaiah 61:7, NIV).
Before I could change my mind, I scooped up my bathroom scale and tossed it into the box labeled, “Goodwill.”
I took a picture of the giveaway box containing a perfectly good bathroom scale (one I’d used daily, sometimes multiple times) and sent it to my friend, Melissa. “Goodbye, bossy box!” I captioned it.
Though technically not house clutter, it did represent a whole heap of heart clutter.
After sharing with Melissa my struggles about shame over my weight, I realized I had become a slave to a digital number. My mood each day depended on whether that number went up or down.
“Has it been working for you so far?” Melissa had asked. I had to agree with her; it hadn’t helped me lose weight or have a healthy relationship with food. It only added to the weight of shame I’d been carrying. I plunked the box into the garage and decided to focus on other markers of health success.
Since my decluttering session, my mood has been a lot lighter. I have the freedom to engage in self care (exercising to feel better and sleep better, rather than punishing myself for a number on a box). I base my success on how good and healthy I feel rather than a fluctuating number.
Shame only serves to weigh us down rather than to help us grow and serve the purpose God created us for (Ephesians 2:10). Before we can ever deal with the exterior problem, we have to throw off the heart clutter holding us back.
Often, items cluttering up our home are tangible evidence we’re carrying around too much shame in our hearts. To the naked eye, it looks like a bathroom scale or 50 bottles of lotion you’ll never use or 6 old phones sitting in your top drawer. But down under the useless stuff, there’s shame involved. Your clutter might represent bad financial decisions, abusive relationships, or other poor choices—any number of things we chronically kick ourselves over.
Once we recognize an item triggers shame in our hearts, it’s easier to toss it. We can’t change whatever caused the shame in the past, but we can make positive, nurturing changes that help us live in a joyful present. Without the weight of shame, we are free to go out and do what we were made to do in the world.
One Small Win
Think of one item in your house you keep, not because it serves you well, but out of shame. Imagine the feeling of lifting the weight of shame off of you when you get it out of your house. Take a deep breath, and do it!
Lyneta Smith and her husband Doug live near Nashville, TN. When not entertaining their adult children or caring for a mischievous Boston terrier and opinionated tortoiseshell cat, they’re typing away on their computers or doing teaching/mentoring ministries in their church. You can read more from Lyneta at LynetaSmith.com.
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16 (NIV)
I’m ready to throw out all of my jeans. Nothing reminds me of the extra weight I’m wearing than a pair of jeans. My skinny jeans really are a paradox. As I tug, yank and wiggle out of them after a long day, I feel trapped in guilt. Suffocating guilt traps them like a denim straight jacket onto my hips. Why haven’t I lost weight yet? How could I have let myself get this heavy? Why do I keep insisting on cramming my body into these jeans? I can’t shed these jeans fast enough. Unfortunately, those extra pounds don’t make fast an option.
Eventually I peel off the jeans and throw them in a heap on my closet floor. They lay there, mocking me. I might have removed the jeans from my body, yet I still don’t feel free of them. There’s another layer squeezing me, my heart.
The guilt. Oh the guilt.
That’s much more difficult to remove. And today it’s almost impossible to shimmy out of.
I quickly grab a pair of leggings and pull them on, their softness and comfort enveloping me. Oh how I long for the same feeling in my heart.
Deep in my heart, I hear a whisper. A reminder. My worth is not found in how my jeans fit, the number on the tag in my jeans, or the number on the scale.
My worth is in Jesus.
For me to wear the peace of that statement, I need to not only shed the too-tight clothes, but the guilt, the shame and the disappointment that comes with them.
Hebrews 4:16 reminds me that because of Jesus, I can approach the throne of God’s grace with confidence. Not with guilt, shame and fear. With confidence. No matter the size of my jeans. The number of the scale. God wants me to come to Him with confidence, but what waits for me there is so much better than confidence! He’s waiting for me, for you, with grace and mercy. And as I find His grace and mercy, I can begin to extend it to myself.
And today, that looks like adding that pair of jeans to the bag of items I’m going to donate later this week. And since I’m already in my closet, I might as well go through some other clothes that don’t fit me. They’re just clutter anyway.
As I let go of clothing that doesn’t fit me, I also let go of the guilt that God never designed to fit my heart.
One Small Win
What’s one item that you can give away or throw away today that will not only release you from physical clutter but from the emotional clutter of guilt? Once you think of it, go do it! Bag it up and put it in your trunk for the next time you’re near a donation spot or throw it away if it’s trash. As you get rid of it, say goodbye to the guilt about it too!
Melissa Mulvaney is a wife, triple-boy blessed mama, writer, certified life coach and lover of her loud and joyful life. She’s known for her cowbells skills, only writes with pink pens, has the loudest laugh in the room, uses 10 exclamation points instead of a period, and cheers her people on literally and figuratively. If cheering people on was a sport, Melissa would win the gold! You can connect with her at MelissaMulvaney.com.
Do you ever get frustrated with people who suggest a “quick fix” solution for losing weight?
• “If you want to lose weight, you have to stop eating sugar.”
• “I lost weight using products that will change your life. Buy my products now.”
• “All you need is more willpower.”
I hate it when this happens. As someone who has lost and gained large amounts of weight many times, I know from experience that losing weight isn’t a one-size-fits-all challenge.
Unsolicited advice, regardless of how well-intended it may be, usually comes across as criticism.
How do you feel when someone tries to “fix” you with uninvited input? If it’s not weight loss, maybe it’s telling you how to:
• Feed your children.
• Spend your money.
• Resolve relational challenges.
How do you respond when someone tries to fix you?
I used to have one of two extreme responses, depending on who was talking to me. Do either of these sound familiar?
• Do nothing and act like it’s not bothering you, even though it does, and then later (maybe many weeks later) you blow up.
• React defensively and aggressively in the moment. Then later you wish you hadn’t.
Learning to become honest with the right people at the right time has been empowering. It’s helped me to not hear food calling my name when I start feeling irritated.
Here are several response options to someone trying to fix you with their advice. Experiment to find what works best for you.
Respond in the moment
If you are talking with someone who tends to react in a positive manner when challenged, choose a simple response.
For example, “Thanks for caring. I’ve got that area of my life covered.”
If you are talking to someone who has a history of not listening to you and even becoming defensive, it’s helpful to have a conversation later.
Be sure to initiate the conversation another time; don’t let it go.
For some situations, I choose my battles, viewing it as their issue and not mine.
For example, with someone I will probably not see again, I often decide to let it go.
If it’s still bothering me, I either journal or talk to someone else about how I am feeling.
Choose Your Response
So, the next time someone offers unsolicited advice meant to fix you, remember: you can learn to choose your response.
These questions will help:
• Is there a history of the person responding positively when challenged? If so, respond honestly in the moment.
• Is there a history of the person responding defensively or aggressively in the moment when challenged? If so, choose a better time to have a conversation about the impact of their advice.
• Is this a relationship with no future? If so, journal or talk about it later with someone else.
One Small Win: Be intentional about practicing these responses. You’ll be glad that you did.
What’s your typical response when someone offers you unsolicited advice?