With spring cleaning comes the motivation to declutter, to go through items and clothing and decide what to donate or get rid of. Some of us may feel like no matter how many things we go through and get rid of there is still clutter. And some of us may feel that we can’t get rid of anything because we don’t have enough. Caryn Rivadeneira and Marlena Graves have co-written an article for Christianity Today titled In Defense of Clutter.
“We get so wrapped up in the mess of spring cleaning and junk-hauling, or the delicate ‘Kondo-ing’ of the decluttering movement, that we can overlook the wealth that allowed us to accumulate so much in the first place. As Arielle Bernstein writes in The Atlantic, ‘To feel comfortable throwing out all your old socks and handbags, you have to feel pretty confident that you can easily get new ones. Embracing a minimalist lifestyle is an act of trust.’”
Sometimes we hold on to more than we should, whether for sentimental or practical reasons. And even after we donate items it can still seem that we have too much. On the other side is minimalism, which is dominated by two main groups. People that have enough, but want to live a clutter-free minimalist lifestyle—and those who are minimalist not by choice but because their finances don’t allow them to live any other way.
“We’re to trust God with junk-filled closets and empty bank accounts and everything in between. Our theology of trust cannot depend on how much we have to give away, since so often our material lives are prone to circumstance.”
For some minimalism is not a choice, it’s all they have. They cherish every item they have and many times do not have simple things that they need. For people who grew up with very little, the idea of minimalism by choice may be strange.
Graves points out,
“Poverty shapes our relationship with possessions. Americans who lived during the Great Depression or remember rationing during World War II may hold onto things “just in case” they need them in the future, trying to be prepared. With lives marked by instability and fear, the homeless tend to have special attachments to their stuff, regardless of value or practical use. I’m no hoarder, but I understand the mentality.”
“We’ve held onto clothes until they are threadbare, shoes until they are worn out. We drive our cars until they won’t go and gladly take old computers when friends get an upgrade. Even after graduate school, it seems like we’re still tiptoeing away from the financial abyss. I know I have some clothes and other material goods that I can get rid of, and like many others I enjoy the feeling of having a clutter-free environment. Yet when it comes time to discard basic things, deep down I still wonder if I’ll regret getting rid of them and if I’ll really be able to replace them. That’s how childhood poverty stalks me.”
To read Rivadeneira and Graves’ full article please visit ChristianityToday.com.
I love hand-me-downs, and part of the reason I fight with clutter is because of the hand-me-downs I have accepted whether furniture or clothing and shoes etc. I am grateful for what I have received, but when I can’t find space for something and I’m not using it I know it’s time to reevaluate.
I always ask myself these questions: If the item is sentimental I ask, do I take it out and look at it regularly or at least a few times a year, or do I foresee a use for it in the future and have space for it? If it’s practical I ask, is it something I use frequently or at least occasionally, or again is it something I foresee using in the future and have space for it? If it’s taking up space and it’s an item that’s not looked at or used and I can’t foresee using in the future, then I know it’s time to give it to a friend or donate it to a local thrift store. You can even take some clothes and furniture to consignment stores.
The key thing to remember is not to let clutter or minimalism take over your life and prevent you from trusting God and looking to Him first. We can become obsessed with decluttering and the perfect minimal lifestyle, and we can also become obsessed with clutter and holding on to things that we may not have space for or be using. Or maybe you’re living a minimalist lifestyle due to finances, and you hate it. Whichever side you fall on—whatever your feelings are toward clutter or minimalism—ask yourself am I trusting God with my possessions and am I using them for His glory?
Publication date: April 25, 2016
Liz Kanoy is an editor for Crosswalk.com.