Konmari and me

 

 

I am not a hoarder at heart, or even much of a keeper. I like to get rid of things and prefer cleared off surfaces for the most part. ( Exceptions made for books….:)) I am generally interested in different ways and techniques to keep clutter at bay, organize better, etc. So when I saw Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up on my daughter-in-law’s bookshelf, I was intrigued. I had previously tried to secure it from the library, back when it first came out, but its popularity made it elusive. I questioned my DIL about her thoughts on it, and was interested enough to borrow it to read on the flight back home.

Marie is hard core, y’all. She has an affinity for organizing and being tidy, which manifested itself at an early age. She also is quite legalistic in how she approaches things, and insists that you do things her way exactly, if you want to be successful at “konmari”-ing (which is what the process is called). So, while I appreciated some aspects of her book, and realize that it can and has been helpful to many people, the whole philosophy wasn’t for me. (And not just because of my contrarian-ish nature.)

Having said that, there was one aspect that I found quite helpful to me. Kondo writes:

When you come across something that’s hard to discard, consider carefully why you have that specific item in the first place. When did you get it and what meaning did it have for you then? Reassess the role it plays in your life. If, for example, you have some clothes that you bought but never wear, examine them one at a time. Where did you buy that particular outfit and why? If you bought it because you thought it looked cool in the shop, it has fulfilled the function of giving you a thrill when you bought it. Then why did you never wear it? Was it because you realized that it didn’t suit you when you tried it on at home? If so, and if you no longer buy clothes of the same style or color, it has fulfilled another important function—it has taught you what doesn’t suit you. In fact, that particular article of clothing as already completed its role in your life, and you are free to say, “Thank you for giving me joy when I bought you,” or “Thank you for teaching me what doesn’t suit me”, and let it go.

Every object has a different role to play. Not all clothes have come to you to be worn threadbare…

When you come across something that you cannot part with, think carefully about its true purpose in your life. You’ll be surprised at how many of the things you possess have already fulfilled their role. By acknowledging their contribution and letting them go with gratitude, you will be able to truly put the things you own, and your life, in order. In the end, all that will remain are the things that you really treasure.

To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose. To get rid of what you no longer need is neither wasteful nor shameful……Let them go, with gratitude.

This aspect of decluttering—recognizing the reason I got something to begin with, appreciating the joy it brought me (if only the joy of purchasing it), and acknowledging the value it had in some way (taught me that that style or color doesn’t flatter me, etc.)—was quite helpful. I realized that I could let things go, without thinking that it was wasteful (“But I spent x dollars on that! But it’s worth so much!”), or feeling shame that I bought it to begin with, and then hardly used it. I was far too invested in the sunk cost of the item, instead of looking at the ongoing “cost” (both in storing and keeping, as well as mental “storage and keeping”) of the item.

As I thought about this, I also realized that this line of reasoning could be applied to things that I have let pile up in my thought life. What things in the past do I regret, that I can’t seem to let go? Why do I continue to feel guilty about them, even if they are either 1) morally neutral choices that just didn’t go the way I thought they would, or 2) wrong choices or actions that I have asked forgiveness for, from God and from any harmed parties?
Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone sins. Everyone has situations that they wish they had handled differently, other choices that they wish they would have made, in hindsight.

Could I “KonMari” my regrets? Could I acknowledge the wisdom gained from my mistakes, and appreciate the experiences that brought me to where I am today?

My husband and I have lived in many different homes, over our marriage of 33 years—eleven, to be precise. (And we are preparing to move again this spring to a new house!) We have never lived longer than five years in any home. Most of those moves were at my urging. Some of them were for good and necessary reasons; some were not. At times I have looked back and thought, “Man, most of those moves were dumb. We wasted a lot of time, money, and energy on those.” And I have felt guilt and shame for the waste, and for what seems so unnecessary now.

However, if I can KonMari this, I can say, “Those moves seemed right at the time, and each move taught me something. In addition, my children, while not having a singular ‘childhood home’ , are free from the pain of us selling a nostalgic homestead in our later years! Thank you, Multiple Moves, for all you have taught me! I am letting you go, with gratitude.”

There are other things that I have in my past that would benefit from this practice. If it is something that hurt another, and I have repented and sought forgiveness from them, then I can absolve myself from continuing to feel regret and pain, and instead be grateful for what it has taught me. If it is something that has no real harm attached to it, then I can release myself from guilt and shame over the “wastefulness”, and rest in the knowledge that nothing is wasted in God’s economy. It served its purpose, whatever that might be. I can remember it with peace, knowing that letting it go also frees up mental and emotional space that is better used for other more fruitful pursuits.

My house doesn’t look super KonMari (although I will use some of her thought processes when deciding what things I really do want to move to our new house). My mind, however, has gotten a little less cramped, and a little more free.

Thanks, Marie Kondo.

 

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confession

 

 

Confession is speaking truth.

It is telling what is true about us.

Sometimes that is telling the truth about things that we are happy to share with others, because they are things in which we delight.

We confess our love for R&B.

We confess our passion for citrus-y desserts.

We confess our addiction to The Walking Dead.

 

Confession is also speaking truth about things that we are not so excited about sharing with others—aspects that generate shame and guilt.

We resist confessing them, hoping that, by hiding them, they will somehow disappear.

Instead, they grow in the darkness. Their roots dig down deeper, their tentacles grab on more tightly.

Sin loves the darkness and isolation. The more we keep our sin private, the more we keep it covered and away from others, away from the light, the more it grows in its power over us. It uses the shame and guilt to make us even less likely to bring it out into the light, because (it tells us) others would turn away from us in disgust.

And nobody wants that.

But the truth is that there is freedom in confession. Confession is truth, and the lies that are told about confession are just that—lies. When we confess our sins, we bring them out into the light. There is freedom in confessing our sin to another believer who is trustworthy, and knows the freedom of confession as well. The power of sin dissipates in the bright sunlight of the gospel. It bleaches the sinner clean in the truth of the love of Christ.

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Confession to our brothers and sisters is a two-way street. As we confess our sins to our brothers and sisters in Christ, they confess the gospel truth back to us.

We confess to the sinner (whom we see as not a wretch unlike ourselves, but a fellow, forgiven son or daughter): here is the truth about you.

You are forgiven.

You are loved.

You are holy, because He is holy, and you are in Him.

You are a royal priesthood.

You are chosen.

You are beloved.

You can never be kicked out of the family.

We speak the Word of truth, and confess it, one to another. We have failed, and will fail. But he is faithful and just.

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. “ 1 John 1:8-9

“…and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

“If we are faithless, he remains faithful–for he cannot deny himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13

We remind each other of these things (2 Tim. 2:14). We encourage one another and build each other up. ( 1 Thess. 5:11) As we confess the truth about our sins and about ourselves to each other, we also confess the truth about the One who has taken care of it for us, the Spirit who is walking with us, and is in and through us, every day.

We confess the truth through the praying and singing of Psalms.

We confess that we deserve the curse.

We confess that because of his mercy, Christ has taken the curse for us.

We confess that we live in freedom, to pour out his mercy to others, because we are beloved and forgiven.

Confession has to happen, to bring out the blessing and the truth of the confession of what God has done in Christ for us.

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The church recognizes that we not only need to confess to God privately, and to a trusted friend and believer, but that we are strengthened and helped by confessing things corporately, as the body of believers: locally, globally, and spanning the generations of time. Those who have gone before us have written creeds and confessions for us to repeat, to say, to agree with—to confess the truth together.

So at church, we confess our sins together, in a time of confession, both silently and corporately. And then we confess the historic truths of our faith, together.

 

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,  Creator of heaven and earth,

and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:

Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.

 He descended to the dead.

On the third day He rose again;

He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,

and  He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church,

the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

Amen.

 

Light is brought to bear on what was hidden. Shame is uprooted and banished; guilt is taken away.

Our roots are more deeply grounded in the truth of the gospel, and the light of truth shines down on us.

We confess this truth.

We are set free.

letting go

A friend prompted me with the following question: if you could go back in time, when you were the mother of young ones, what would you do differently? Not different in specific ways you would parent, or even mistakes that you made that you would want to go back and “fix”, but what would you do with your time? What do you wish you would have poured more of yourself into, and what do you wish you would have let go?

I did let go of some things along the way.

I tried to maintain a level of clean that didn’t trigger a health department official coming over to investigate.

I kept a reasonable schedule of laundry–one that recognized that I would never be “caught up” until there were far fewer people living in the house.

I accepted no shame over not having dusted and vacuumed before friends came over.

I pursued an acceptable level of involvement in my children’s school–picking the activities and things that I was more interested in, and dropping those that were not a good fit for me, without guilt.

I recognized my limited interest in cooking anything beyond “tastes decent, within the budget, doesn’t take a lot of time, feeds everyone” and being okay with that.

So mostly—I tried to fit things to the reality of our family and our needs, without comparing myself and what I was doing to other people and how they were doing life in their families.

The oft-quoted “Comparison is the thief of joy” is oft-quoted for a reason. It’s true, y’all.

The releasing of these things was not all at once, but rather progress was made, in fits and spurts. I worked on trying to please God and serve my family, without being worried about what everyone else thought of how I was doing in those areas.

The question of what to pour yourself into? This is a hard question, in a way, because I think that it looks different for everyone. Things that may be more important to you, and worthwhile to pour your energy into, are not going to be the same things necessarily for me. As a believer in Christ, there are two things that are essential: loving God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength; and loving my neighbor as myself. The specifics on how I carry that all out will rest on my own specific gifting, abilities, situations, and experiences.

So how do I know how to spend my time and energy?

I think the only way is through a consistent conversation with God.

When we look into his Word and ponder it, think about it, pray it, we get a clearer view of Him, of his love and care for us, of his vision for our lives.

When the view is muddy, we ask for a clearer view and for what he wants us to do. We ask for eyes to see and ears to hear what that might be.

We continue on in the faithful, mundane-to-our-eyes daily service to our families, our workmates, our neighbors, and our community, knowing that that is important, necessary work.

We watch for opportunities that God may be bringing our way, to do other things that He would have us do.

We ask trusted people in our lives if they see those opportunities as well.

There’s no list or hierarchy that fits everyone. We are all unique parts of the Body, with unique roles to play.

Don’t be swayed by the idols of comfort, control, power, or the approval of others. Ask God what he wants you to do.

Pour yourself into a full, committed relationship with God.

Everything else will pour out from that.