As a kid I remember accusing Mama of keeping our house like a museum – “keep it clean, keep it neat, make your bed, put stuff away.”
I thought a little layer of dust and a few books/toys strewn about would give our house a welcoming, lived-in look. Now that I’m the mama, I see the “little layer of dust and books/toys strewn about” a little differently. lol.
Still, museums can be interesting places to visit if you are interested in the subject they keep and display. I’d be fascinated to see the sword of Napoleon. I’m not as interested in the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum of the Smokeys. Somebody else might be, but me? Not so much.
There is something appealing about the idea of living in a house like a museum, though, isn’t there? Clearly defined spaces, a place for everything, nothing gets broken or misplaced. There are rules for being in a museum offering structure and protection.
We might forfeit a little bit of freedom, but we gain peace, right? So what if we can’t run?
My house is far from a museum in the traditional sense of the word. While we do have a place for everything… not everything is in its place.
So, maybe I would rather live in a hotel.
Think about it. When you walk into a hotel room, it’s nice to be there because there is no clutter, right?
The bedroom has a freshly made bed, clear bedside tables, and an uncluttered desk. The dresser is empty with ample room to put away your clothes. The closet would be a bit small for an entire wardrobe, but there is available hanging space and shelf space and a clear floor.
The bathroom has clean towels, an extra roll of toilet paper handy, and a tissue box with tissues actually in it. There are two bars of soap and a pair of little bottles with shampoo and conditioner. There is also a small sign telling you where you can get a toothbrush, razor, or comb if you need them – but they are not lying on the counter cluttering the bathroom, are they?
There is plenty of everything you need, but no excess. It is an oasis of refreshment.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have an oasis of refreshment as a house?
Yes, I think I’d rather live in a hotel than a museum. I also think this idea is what organizational experts are selling. And it sounds really good.
Actually, I think it is also what God offers.
I kind of think God invites us to live in the place where we are free from excess, but see the signs that anything you need will be provided if you ask.
Now it’s time for a confession: I have a clutter problem. Those of you who have been to my house will want to strongly disagree with me on this point, but I do.
And if we think of a museum as a place where items are kept and displayed, my clutter qualifies my house as a museum.
Clutter puts my unmade decisions, my lack of discipline, and my idolatry on display.
Have you ever thought about the nature of clutter that way? Did you ever think of clutter as a heart issue?
Dealing with clutter is like dealing with any other heart issue: if you try to fix it from the outside, it won’t get fixed. Clutter is a heart attitude, and until we deal with the heart, any number of organizational systems will continue to work for a while, and then fail.
It is kind of like losing weight. Until our fundamental attitude about food changes, we cannot get off of the diet roller coaster. We lose weight only to gain it back again. One diet drops pounds, another holiday, baby, crisis, vacation… (fill in the blank) brings them back.
Clutter is like that. Organizational systems often play the part of the fad diet. I think we often fail to truly change because we are only addressing one component of the problem: lack of discipline. And we beat ourselves up over our inability to be disciplined.
Clutter is much bigger than lack of discipline. I mean, really…
- Why is the pile of mail still on the counter? Most likely it is because I didn’t decide where it should go (unmade decision) or put it there (lack of discipline).
- Why do I keep clothes I don’t wear anymore on a top shelf in my closet? Why are there boxes of china in my attic? Because I may need them someday. I’m afraid I’ll regret getting rid of them – it’s a way to make sure I have what I need rather than trusting God to provide (idolatry).
- Why do I keep the platter I got as a wedding gift even though I never use it? Guilt, a.k.a. fear of man, in this case (there it is again: idolatry).
Clutter affects my calendar as much as my countertops.
- Pride encourages me to say “yes” to commitments I am not called to accept (idolatry)
- Fear of man keeps me from saying “no” to requests I should not fulfill (idolatry)
- Procrastination obligates me to attend certain events (no decision is a decision)
- Repeated meetings occur because I am not prepared for the first one (lack of discipline)
Clutter keeps my home and my life from being an oasis of refreshment.
The God who promises a peace that passes all understanding also provides the way to that peace – and it always involves being a conduit of his blessing rather than a container for it. He has not called us to a burdened life, to a life weighed down with a cluttered mind or a cluttered heart. He promises freedom. Freedom to live according to his ways and for his purposes.
If you, like me, have a clutter problem, I invite you to seek God’s place of refreshment with me over the next several weeks. I invite you to throw off the clutter than entangles you so you can run God’s race unhindered.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1, NIV
Where the museum says, “No Running!” God says, “Please run!”
Do you want to run with me?