A wave of tidying up took over the country in January this year. Marie Kondo, the bestselling author of The Magical Art of Tidying Up, starred in a Netflix show that motivated thousands to declutter their homes. Kondo invites us to tidy up and find real contentment with having less. Her method is thorough.
Take all of your clothes (or books or electronics or dishes) and put them in one big pile. And then, one at a time hold the thing and ask “does this spark joy?” If yes, keep it. If not, give it away.
The season of Lent, these forty days before Easter, is a sort of spiritual spring cleaning. We are invited to look critically at our actions, thoughts, and words. We look at the things pulling us from God and try to change those behaviors. We practice saying no to those actions that hurt, even unintentionally. We keep developing those ways of being that bring us closer to God and others.
Perhaps Marie Kondo’s question “does it spark joy?” can aid us in this decluttering. The joy I’m talking about is not a surface happiness that sticks around for a little while, like the empty sugar high of a hot fudge sundae. I mean the kind of joy that comes when you feel alive and loving and loved. This spark that is found in authentic relationships, belonging, and purposeful living.
How might your faith and relationships grow if your actions brought joy to other people, to yourself? As you listen to the way you talk to yourself or others, do those words offer sparks of delight or true goodness? If not, find ways to disentangle yourself from them. Toss those words and actions that shame, hurt, or degrade in the trash. There’s not enough room in this precious life for that clutter and chaos.
Paul wrote in Colossians about clearing out our spiritual closets: “you know better now, so make sure it’s all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk. . . You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire. Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with God’s label on it . . . So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline.” (Fragments of Colossians 3: 8-13, The Message).
“Does it spark joy?” This Lent, we can take time to clear out the drawers of our hearts. In this great spiritual decluttering, let’s cling to the things that bring joy and let go of all the rest.