Melissa Michaels of incourage.me writes,
“The truth is, a full and meaningful life will always go hand in hand with a little mess.”
It’s hard for some of us to keep the mess quota to a “little” and it’s hard for others to allow a “little” mess to exist. Whichever person you are, if your home gets too chaotic and cluttered chances are you’re going to feel overwhelmed in your attempt to reign it back in. Whether it’s a sink full of dirty dishes that continues to climb, clutter covering your countertops, laundry piles blocking hallways, a stash of unpaid bills, or a to-do list that never seems to get checked off—you’re not alone.
While Michaels says that a little mess is OK in our lives, it’s time to reconsider if the daily clutter and chaos threatens to consume your life and bring you down. She advises,
“We can’t fully live and give of ourselves when we are exhausted, overwhelmed, or discouraged by the state of our home. A messy and disorganized house can rob us of the peaceful oasis we long for in our home.”
This exhaustion can spill over into our hospitality, our marriage, parenting, or our spiritual growth. But you can find encouragement by taking small steps to transform your home. Starting big will only cause you to feel more overwhelmed than you already are, so it’s OK to start small. Small, continuous steps are the key on this path to reduce a big mess to a little mess.
Michaels provides 5 ways you can transform your home into a peaceful sanctuary:
1. Give thanks for the chaos makers.
This may sound odd at first…especially if you are feeling more frustrated by the mess maker(s). But feeling frustrated will only hinder you in your progress, so take time to thank God for the person who left their dish in the sink, their shoes in the middle of the floor, or the one who forgot to move the wet clothes to the dryer last night. But don’t stop there, also thank God for the purpose of the mess: for running water, appliances that work, food for your family, and the people who attempt to help even if it causes you more work. As you begin working on these small tasks remember,
“Messes are an opportunity to show gratitude for what you have and restore peace as you love and care for the people under your roof,” says Michaels.
2. Create special clutter-free corners.
If your entire house looks like an overgrown jungle you’ll feel overwhelmed not knowing where to start. Or maybe you feel discouraged because your attempts don’t seem to be making a dent. Michaels recommends finding one corner in a room you frequent that you can make look clean, a little oasis in the desert. When you’re working on the bigger areas and that sense of discouragement comes over you again, walk back over to your clean corner for a break and some mental clarity. Remind yourself why the work is worth it and that a little each day will eventually show progress—one clean corner at a time.
3. Establish calming daily rituals.
Start your day off right…no one expects you to roll out of bed and start attacking the dust in your home. Pray before your feet hit the floor, pull up the covers, then make some coffee and sit at the table with your Bible. Throw a load in the washer, and start a small de-cluttering task. When you feel overwhelmed during the day, take a small break again. Try praying before each new task you want to tackle. Remind yourself that everything you do, even these tedious cleaning tasks, are for God’s glory.
If you work during the day, pray when you get home before starting dinner or chores. Ask God to give you the motivation you need to achieve a few simple tasks this evening, while still making time for your family and relaxation.
4. Declutter, declutter, declutter.
Part of the mess in our homes has to do with clutter aka too much stuff. Do you have TMS? It often seems like we don’t have a place for every item in our home, and many times that’s due to having more than we need. So whether it’s clothes you don’t wear anymore, books you have no desire to read again, your kid’s baby toys, or more blankets than you could ever use consider pulling some things to let go and donate. There are so many wonderful organizations that will put your excess items to good use for people who need them. Michaels says,
“Put things away so you can find them when you need them. Only have out what you love and enjoy seeing in your home!”
Ask yourself, do I want to display this? If not, ask do I have a place to store this? And if not ask, do I really need this or is this something I can let go of?
5. Set the tone.
“While disorder and clutter can add to the chaos, a sour attitude and grumpy disposition will definitely make everyone in the family feel on edge (even in an orderly home!) Bring more peace to your home by setting the tone for gentle words, gratitude, and loving actions,” shares Michaels.
Your attitude about your clutter will affect how you clean and how those in your home clean up their messes. When everyone feels frustrated or ashamed, the motivation to work will be low.
Remember your home does not need to look like a Pinterest board, but it does need to look like a house that wants to glorify God. What does this mean? It means we will seek to clean our homes for God’s glory not our own; we will be thankful for the people who live in our homes (no matter how messy) and for the items we have been given. We should seek to make our homes a place for hospitality, for family time, and for relaxation and time with God. When we find that our little messes are turning into big messes, then we start again.
Courtney Reissig, writes in her article “Why Work in the Home Matters to God:”
“The first thing we need to understand regarding why stay at home work matters to God is that God created us for work. Work is not an afterthought to him. After the fall, he didn’t one day decide to force us to work. Yes, work is cursed, so it’s hard. Nonetheless, it is part of God’s design for us as human beings.
This means that the work we’re doing in the home every day has great value to him because we are living out what it means to image him. We are living out what it means to be created by him and for him. So the laundry, for example, matters to God.”
5 Bible verses to remember when you’re surrounded by clutter:
1. When you question who you’re working for:
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,” -Colossians 3:23
2. For the head of household:
“for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church?” -1 Timothy 3:5
3. We are responsible for our own messes:
“The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.” -Proverbs 14:1
4. Use your time wisely:
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” -Ephesians 5:15-16
5. Work should not = grumbling:
“Do all things without grumbling or questioning,” -Philippians 2:14
Choose one small task to accomplish today; pray before you start, and whenever you feel like grumbling remind yourself who you’re really working for.
Image courtesy: ©Thinkstock/MikeWatsonImages
Publication date: May 1, 2017
Liz Kanoy is an editor for Crosswalk.com.