The word "peace" is found all throughout the bible. Specifically, there are two times where the word peace is applied to an action that we must take, which is to seek it and pursue it, (Psalms 34:14 and 1 Peter 3:11). Understanding and practicing the pursuit of peace is something that I have felt the Lord calling me to work on and study more. I tend to lean toward a racing, anxious mind which makes it very difficult to maintain peace.
There are so many different ways that we can actively seek peace and pursue it in our lives. Today, I wanted to start by bringing you some practical applications as it relates to decluttering. More specifically, in decluttering areas that are often sources of attack on the peacefulness of our spiritual growth, our physical health, our mindset about who we are, and our relationship with God and others. Satan uses clutter to rob us of peace in many ways. He uses it to steal our time, energy, focus, joy, efficiency, and so on. This makes us more anxious and more discontent, which ultimately removes our peace.
The Bible defines peace as "harmony; undisturbedness from fears, agitating passions, and moral conflicts." (1 Peter 3:11 AMPC)
The overwhelm of clutter has a direct impact on our ability to experience peace in the way that He designed us to. This, in turn, hinders our ability to be effective in the areas of service and ministry that we have been called to. Let's begin to look at some of the ways we can start to de-clutter and get organized!
Closet and Dresser Drawers:
If you are anything like me, your closet and dresser are full of items of clothing, shoes, and accessories that you rarely wear. I have an affinity to save things "just in case" I might need them for a specific event. Yet when I go in search of the things I wear on a daily basis, I get frustrated digging past these item to get to the things I do want to wear! I hold on to other things that, as it stands at the moment, I don't feel my best in when I wear. Nevertheless, I keep them for when they might fit a little better and I am excited to wear them. Other times I find myself unwilling to let go of certain items in my wardrobe that I absolutely adore, but which have really been worn well past their life expectancy! I can't seem to part with them because I enjoy every moment I spend in them, but then in the back of my mind I am self conscious that someone might notice how faded my shirt is, the small stain on my pants, the scuffs on my boots, or the beads missing from a strappy sandal. Yet I just can't bear to part with them! Haha! Do you find yourself doing any of these things too? Friend, this sets us up for discouragement and perpetuates a negative mindset around our body image and beauty.
We should keep and the wear only those clothes and accessories that we not only feel good while wearing, but also that cause us to truly love how we look while we are wearing them. I believe God calls us to be modest in our appearance (1 Timothy 2:9), but I also believe He designed us to be confident in how we look too. After all, He created us in His image and carefully knit us together in our mother's womb (Psalm 139:13). Why then would He not smile over us when we are pleased with His design? 1 Corinthians 6:19 tells us that our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. I believe we are called to carry and represent ourselves in such a way as to bring Him honor and glory. This includes taking care of our physical bodies. It is as important as any other gift or tool He blesses and equips us with.
Nightstands, Bookshelves, and Tables:
Where do you usually go for your quite time? For me, it is a space in my bedroom next to the nightstand and bookshelf. This also tends to be a space that gets cluttered when I move things from other places in the home until I can put them away. Looking around and seeing all the things that I need to clean up distracts me while I’m trying to do my quiet time. If I am not careful, I then find my mind wandering to all the things I need to do and put away in the midst of trying to spend time with the Lord. Now maybe you do your quiet time somewhere else (a comfy spot in the living room, a chair at the table as you sip your coffee, at the desk in your home office, etc). Regardless of where you are during this time, if the space you seek the Lord in is not tidy, you are probably prone to do the same thing as I do. It is stealing focus from our quiet time and prayer time more than we may realize, and will also make us anxious about falling behind on tasks and chores before we even start our day! Think about it... If you are at your desk and you see a pile of bills, you might begin to worry about finances. If you are at the table and you see dirty dishes from everyone's breakfast, you might become frustrated with your family for not tidying up. If you are in the bedroom and see a mound of laundry, you may be tempted to toss a load of clothes in to start while you read your Bible. These things tear us down, they don't build us up. They harm our attitude instead of strengthening it. They put the Lord second, rather than first.
"Outer order leads to inner calm." Make the space you meet with the Lord as comfortable and inviting a place as possible. Remove visual distractions, and if possible noise disruptions as well. (Note: depending on how busy your household is and the time of day you meet with the Lord, it may take playing worship music in the background or even ear plugs to achieve this). Create a minimalistic space around you so that your mind doesn't wander to other visual cues. Keep piles of things out of sight. Select a space and protect it. You wouldn't try to take a bath in a filthy tub, expecting to get clean. Your time with the Lord is as important to the renewing and refreshing of your mind, soul, and spirit as bathing is to the body. By blocking the distractions of life's troubles, we will be keeping the Lord our priority. This will ultimately allow us to renew our mind and transform our attitude in the way the Lord intends this time to do for us (see Romans 12:2).
Refrigerator and Kitchen Cabinets:
There are two types of people when it comes to buying. There are under-buyers and over-buyers, and I definitely fall in the second category! I always try to keep an "extra" of most things on hand so I don't run out. This is not a bad thing, per se. Proverbs 31:25b says "She smiles at the future knowing she and her family are prepared." While having a well-stocked home works out well for never ending up without things like toilet paper or toothpaste, it can become a bit of a situation in the kitchen... An overflowing deep freezer, cluttered cabinets, and a fridge full of things that need to get used before they go bad. At this stage, I am no longer operating from the Biblical principle of preparation in a Godly manner. When carried to the extreme, I am actually taking matters into my own hands and telling the Lord that I don't trust Him to provide. Do you find any of this to ring true for you?
Clearing the clutter and organizing the kitchen and pantry energizes us and keeps us motivated with our healthy eating behaviors. For some, this might mean removing our food temptations and replacing them with healthy alternatives. For others, it may just mean keeping things neat and orderly so that we’re excited to go into the kitchen to prepare healthy foods for body and look forward to consuming them. Begin by removing and tossing anything in the pantry or fridge that is expired. Frozen things last longer of course, but there may be some things that need to go from there too. Next, see what needs to get used before it goes bad and prioritize doing so before buying more. Give away or donate what may not actually get used but are not yet expired.
Phone and Electronic Devices:
I can't tell you how many times I have opened up my phone or computer to get something important accomplished, only to "wake up" 30 minutes later and realize that I have not done (or have even forgotten) the important thing I needed to do because I happened to see an app on my phone or email in my inbox. I think, "Oh, I'll just check this real quick and then I'll do what I got on here for." That. Never. Happens! Proverbs 12:11b says "he who follows worthless things lacks common sense and good judgement." Wow! That puts things in perspective. The Lord certainly calls us to enjoy ourselves and relax, but first we should be faithful with our time and take care of those things which the Lord has entrusted to our care (see Matthew 25:14-30 for the picture of a faithful servant). We should guard against things which keep us from doing meaningful work and from being productive. Proverbs 31:27 says: "She looks well to how things go in her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness."
Consider decluttering your phone of apps which distract you from time with family, friends, and God. If nothing else, turn off automatic notifications. Unfriend/unfollow accounts that cause you to have unhealthy thought processes which do not align with the Truth of the Word of God. If they are not showing up in your feed, they cannot speak into your life. Don't make the mistake of thinking that you can look past the filth in order to gain the small scrap of benefits they may offer. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 5:6 "Do you not know that just a little leaven ferments the whole batch of dough, just as a little sin corrupts a person or an entire church?" Consider spending some time unsubscribing from email lists that aren't bringing you priority-focused material. I have often spent more time reading emails that really didn't matter (or even just deleting others which I don't even open) than I spend actually engaging in and responding to those that were important. Afterword I am frustrated that I am no closer to getting meaningful things accomplished. Rather than allowing more distractions to enter, I should spend time whittling away at my email subscription list.
Are there any areas of pruning that you feel may be of value to the maintenance of peace in your life? Are there areas of clutter that you have found ways to resolve that I didn't mention here? Share below, or start a discussion in the Dashing Dish Facebook group!