Decluttering your Life for Lent
Anyone visiting my house will realise straight away that I have trouble with the practice of decluttering. I have many excuses: not enough time to sort things out, holding on to things because they might come in handy at some point, sentimentality, not wanting to give away something that someone has given to me, and so on.
A recent book by decluttering guru Marie Kondo, Spark Joy, caused an outcry when it was suggested that people should limit the number of books in their house to 30. Easy for some, but for book addicts like me, completely impossible.
Kondo’s theory is that we should let go of anything that doesn’t make us joyful. I’m ashamed to say that I have far too much “stuff”. And not all of it brings me joy. But some of things that don’t necessarily spark joy in me are not things I’d want to dispose of: for instance, the toilet, knives and forks, pots and pans, washing-machine, even my car. All useful things but not ones I look at and immediately feel joyful about.
But it’s not only things that we hold on to that don’t lead to joy. It’s also easy to get into bad habits and wrong thoughts and deeds, to be less caring of others than we ought to be and to behave in ways that are not positive or helpful. The standards for Christians are high: anything that causes a breach in our relationship with God or with others is what is known as sin. It can be thoughts, words, deeds, attitudes, things we have or haven’t done; essentially anything that reveals a lack of love for God, people or creation.
Lent starts on March 6th this year. Traditionally it has been a time when people have looked at their lives and asked God to help them let go of things in life that are not as they should be.
We could call it a spiritual decluttering. Lent is a time when we can focus on ridding our lives of what harms and replacing them, with God’s help, with what brings joy. It’s a time to let go of selfishness, greed, treating others without respect, hard-heartedness, injustice, dishonesty, resentment, uncaring attitudes, reliance on self not God, and replace them with more positive characteristics: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, humility, self-control, compassion, generosity, prayerfulness, trust and faith.
Giving up chocolate is one thing; but what God really desires to see in us is a change of heart not diet. How will you use Lent this year?
With best wishes