It’s resolution time but rather than adding new regimens, goals or programs to my life this year, I’m going to pare down and eliminate them!
I gravitate to the idea of less. I love words like purging and decluttering and simplifying and margin-building and mindfulness and intentionality. The idea of less has been a cultural conversation for a while now. A couple years ago I became intrigued with tiny house living, micro wardrobes, and minimalism. I’m certain I’ve watched every YouTube video there is because the idea of less really appealed to the overwhelming, overcrowding chaotic fullness of my life. I feasted on the concepts of less.
I buy into the notion that having less translates into stressing less and rushing less and pushing less, which enables more life-giving living. So, like many of you, I launched my own less-ness campaign. I got rid of seldom-used kitchen gadgets, unloaded craft supplies from bygone obsessions, and exorcised my closet of the evil skinny clothes I held onto in hopeful practicality, which in actuality was more like fierce denial. I performed gastric bypass on my garage and storage closets. I emptied drawers and cleared off shelves. I unloaded furniture and make-up and decor and anything labeled project or potential. I also stopped frequenting second-hand shops and yard sales!
I held to rules (guidelines sound better, right?) some of you may have adopted as well:
- If you don’t love it, don’t keep it.
- If you don’t use it, don’t store it.
- If you have more than one, get rid of the duplicate.
- If it doesn’t fit or needs a fix, dump it.
- If you bring something home, something else has to move away!
I purged the excess and it felt good. My yeses became more intentional which meant I had more margin in my life. But even though I was getting good at lessening objects and overcommitment, my life still felt too full, too bloated, too crowded.
Somewhere in all my ruminating I realized that my newly acquired less-ness was good but it wasn’t what my soul was craving. The word empty came to mind, and though it has a negative connotation, I can’t find another word to describe what I feel God is speaking to my heart.
I’m not seeking a monk-esque, meditative nothingness or a Mother Teresa own two dresses, give one away lifestyle. I’ve got a hunch the less-ness I am seeking isn’t found in reducing stuff as much as it is in reducing soul clutter.
Soul clutter? Well, it’s an idea rising in the eastern sky of my pursuit toward staying in my own lane. Soul clutter is the horde of ideals, ideas, knowledge, concepts, formulas, standards and persuasions that I’ve picked up while blog-surfing and book-reading and conversation-having and seminar-attending and television-watching and people-following. It all lay stuffed in the folds of my gray matter and it’s encumbering and confusing me. My head is overfilled with theories, strategies, concepts, formulas, causes, commentaries, opinions, persuasions and influences—it all feels like spiritual paraphernalia.
Remember when David, the young shepherd stood before Goliath, the enemy giant? Hoping to equip David with the best shot possible at accomplishing God’s will, Saul offered his elaborate and heavy armor. David tried on Saul’s equipment but quickly realized that it encumbered rather than enhanced his mission. He chose instead to use what he knew and was practiced in. At first glance, a few rocks and a sling shot don’t seem an advantageous choice. But even less advantageous is trying to adopt and adapt to the tools and techniques of others.
I often think of the time Peter challenged Jesus about John, asking, But what about him? I hear Jesus’ reply and take it to heart: What is that to you…you go and do what I told you to do and don’t worry about what I’ve got going on with someone else.
Martin Luther was said to have insisted his wife, Katharina—whom he had great respect and admiration for—read the bible from cover to cover. Her response was firm. “I’ve read enough. I’ve heard enough. I know enough. Would to God that I live it.” In essence, she was saying, How ‘bout I focus on living up to what I already know?
I asked myself, What if I disregard the well-meaning suggestions and challenges we Christian’s so quickly toss one another and simply apply myself to what God has already placed on my heart, what I already know of His will? What would it look like to practice that well before I reach for another brass ring?
I wholeheartedly believe that there is a tailor-made call and directive that comes from Him, unassisted, to our unique selves. It harnesses our gift-set and launches peaceful and passionate service—but we have to minimize the distractions to hear it and live it out.
I want to turn a deaf ear to the voice of comparison—measuring my activities, spirituality, call and results with those of others.
I sense God is calling me into a season of soul-simplicity; inviting me to purge the dusty, inflated or oversized ideas I’ve glommed onto along with the trending throng.
Simply said, I want to unpack and reevaluate, examine the horde and toss the clutter. And I want to live extremely conscientious of what I take back in.
Someone once said it is more beneficial to have a solid grasp of five books than it is to skim hundreds. Likewise, I feel it’s better to know my call and stay in my lane than to be distracted by the call of others and swerve all over the highway of God’s kingdom.
Is God speaking to your heart about emptying? I’ll keep you posted as I explore this—which seems hypocritical since I myself will likely be reading fewer blogs this year!
Dare, with me, to become skilled at recognizing the distractions that pull us off course!