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The Clutter Test: Three Questions You Need To Ask

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I’m a well-ordered person, about ninety percent of the time. But it’s that other ten percent that really gets under my skin. There’s a certain quirk to my personality that I’m not proud of: when my life gets cluttered, so does my personal space.

It typically happens when my role at work gets busy, or when I spread myself too thin with extra commitments. My mind get so packed full of the next thing on my to-do list, or the next thing on my schedule, and I begin to push out the priority of taking care of places like my room, office, or car. The mess drives me crazy, but I’ve learned to block it out at all costs—secretly hoping that neglecting the time it takes to straighten up will somehow buy me needed time to power through the busy season. The reality is that this isn’t a strategy I would recommend to anyone.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. My room is a direct reflection of my headspace (same for my office, my car, etc.). If my room is out of order, I know that somewhere internally, I am too. Some of you might discover you’re wired the same way. God is a God of order, and if we are made in His image (Genesis 1:27), then we are to be creatures of order, too. That being said, let’s jump in to learning how to clean out the clutter in every area of our life, inside and out.

Where are you? 

The first step in any journey has only one starting place: right where you are. Have you ever been walking around a theme park or large mall where you wander around until you feel rather disoriented? That’s usually the point you search out a map and look for the pin that says “you are here”. There’s something assuring, or clarifying about knowing where you are. God knew this when the first man and woman sinned. It was there, in the garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve were hiding among the trees and God called out, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). God knew the answer. Those three words were a powerful wake up call for the man and women to realize where they were. They had missed it, now hiding from God, and felt shame for the first time. Sometimes when we let our lives get cluttered we have to stop and give ourselves that same powerful wake up call. It’s when I’ve assessed where I am that I discovered I had been overcommitted, out of rhythm with God, or focused on all the wrong things. But when I face up to where I am, I have a starting place to get to where I want to go.

What do you have? 

Clutter can be overwhelming, especially when we tackle the task of cleaning it out. It’s easy to cling to excuses like “If I had more time in the day, I could get all this done,” or “If I had a partner, I wouldn’t have to carry all this alone.” Even in a really literal sense, “With a bigger house, I’d be able to keep all my things.” Projecting the option to live clutter-free onto a distant or unattainable set of circumstances only sets us up for a life of discontent. Instead, look at what you do have, and use that to make strides. While you evaluate what you have, take note of what aligns with your dreams and brings you the most fulfillment. If you’re overcommitted, pray through which commitments to keep and which to transition out of. If you have an excess of anything, identify those things that mean the most and prioritize from there. Before you add anything more to build on the clutter, choose to assess what you have already and determine what’s of the most value.

What can you do? 

This question stirs up action. Knowing where you start and what you have creates a foundation for making wiser decisions for how to take charge of life’s clutter. Start with small steps that can make a big difference, like committing to spend the first 15 minutes of every day with a clear mind and no distractions, allowing God to make His priorities our priorities and asking Him to guide us in every area.

These are three principles that’ll help begin to get our life in order, which I truly believe is in line with God’s desire for us. There’s this quote that has been somewhat of a personal mantra for this year, and I’ll leave you with this to think on:

“Be steady and well-ordered in your life so that you can be fierce and original in your work.” –Gustave Flambert

I am convinced that God has created us all to live lives of great significance. If we are to be fierce, original, and all that God has made us to become, then we have to learn to clean out the clutter. And it begins by starting where we are, using what we have, and doing what we can.

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