The Privileged Life: A Lenten Time to Declutter

“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23

With Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday behind us, Lent is here—a season of reflection, sacrifice, and preparation for the holiest day of the Christian calendar, Easter. 

If you haven’t heard of Lent, it’s because some denominations ignore it completely, while others embrace a litany of rituals, fasting, and ceremonies. I’m somewhere in between. 

Lent gets a bad rap when it’s nothing more than an imposed season of mourning and fasting…a giving up of all “vices.” That’s why Mardi Gras (the “fat” Tuesday before Ash Wednesday) is so wildly popular as a last-minute fling before its proponents go into a miserable withdrawal from all fun.

The 40 days of Lent, however, represent the same length of time Jesus spent in the desert to prepare for ministry. He tossed away all the trappings of civilization to spend time only with His Father. Like Advent before Christmas, Lent gives us pause to ponder on the unfathomable love of Christ, the significance of His death and resurrection. 

Easter is, after all, the culmination of the Christmas story—that God came to Earth as a fully-human, fully-divine person in Jesus, giving His life in exchange for our salvation and buying us a place in His glorious heaven. No wonder Lent is seen as a time to give Him a tiny sacrifice of our own.

But what if we turned Lenten traditions upside down and decided to take on something? Perhaps a radical new way of life? 

I’m talking about a simpler lifestyle—more productivity, less clutter, more peace. No more overcrowded calendars. Fewer expectations. A shorter to-do list. Less indulgence in food, TV, social media, or other binge-worthy things. An orderly home, free of the bondage of clutter and stuff.

Wouldn’t that be a lovely, focused life? More peaceful? And a lot more stress-free?

My friend, Angie Hyche, owner of Shipshape Solutions, has just released a great book called Unholy Mess: What the Bible Says about Clutter.* Angie is a certified professional organizer (CPO®), and this book is spot-on for Lenten contemplation. After describing the symptoms of a too-cluttered life, including her own personal confessions, she gives solid biblical reasons for why messiness is not akin to godliness.

The clincher in Angie’s book is that clutter isn’t the real problem…it’s our selfish addiction to personal goals, materialism, busyness, and putting ourselves first instead of trusting in God and how He would have us live.

This kind of decluttering involves more than just tidying up our closets and carting stuff off to thrift shops. It calls for a profound change of direction that empties us of our burdens so we can focus on Jesus Christ and His mission for our lives. It brings a renewed, heaven-oriented freedom to serve in His kingdom. 

Angie goes on to give us goals for decluttering our possessions, time, finances, and attention. I love how she talks about “stuff-shifting” when it comes to making our homes neater…she says that we can be great organizers, but if we’re not getting rid of unnecessary things, we’re just rearranging our clutter. 

That applies to too-many volunteer activities, time-wasting trips, clothes we’ll never wear again, empty cardboard boxes, social media, recipe books we’ll never use, toxic “friendships,” and other things that clog our homes, calendars, thoughts, and workspaces. Just because it might have been useful once doesn’t necessarily make it useful to us any longer.

Angie offers lots of other great ideas to help arrange and maintain order, say “no” more often, keep good habits, break addiction to smartphones, and set priorities. If you still feel you can’t do it yourself after reading her book, she’s available to help you as a professional consultant! You can reach her by email (angie@shipshape.solutions) or check out her website for more information about her business (https://shipshape.solutions). Angie is also scheduling group presentations (virtual or in person) about her book. Contact her if you are part of a group that might be interested (church group, women’s group, book club, etc.). 

Her mission—as should be ours—is to put Jesus Christ first and eliminate distractions that keep us from drawing closer to Him and His purposes in our everyday lives. Moving into a freer, more enriching life of simplicity is a great goal for Lent and a privilege for everyone. Cover this season in prayer, focus on His great passion for you, and He will rekindle your passion for Him.

Lord Jesus, You are the Owner of all that we have, Giver of breath and life. As we approach Easter, help us discard what is unprofitable and spend more time in prayer with You, remembering Your sacrifice for us on the cross. Prepare our hearts to serve You in joy, and bless our efforts to fulfill Your kingdom purposes. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

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© Copyright 2021 Nancy C. Williams, Lightbourne Creative

*Unholy Mess is available at https://www.amazon.com/Unholy-Mess-Bible-About-Clutter/dp/1734959797/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1608236797&sr=8-1

Angie’s video about her book and mission: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7rVRVAitbc&feature=emb_logo

My “organized” junk drawer….ha!

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