Over the last year, we've been diligently working on purging our home from unneeded and unused items. Most of this on the heels of reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. But recently I opened my mailbox to find an unexpected gift from Kondo's publishing company –– Kondo's newest book, Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up, due to release this coming Tuesday, January 5th. In nearly 300 pages, Kondo addresses many questions that hopped around my mind after reading her first book –– advice for those who think they can't part with books, the basic rule for papers, tidying things you kept just because, tidying your children's creations, and teaching your children how to fold clothes, etc. Not only does Kondo spell these answers out, she illustrates them in endearing Japanese-style drawings.
The art of tidying has brought a lot of good to our family. Remember, Kondo had my husband and me out of bed, emptying out our closets and refolding our underwear drawers at eleven o'clock at night. The woman knows how to motivate! These books and the minimalist movement as a whole have been very helpful in getting our little family to the place that we are now. Our home is by no means perfect. As a humorous example of that previous statement let me confess that I searched my home for five minutes trying to find Kondo's new book–– the one I'm telling you about! Laughable! (I finally found it in the bookcase where it belonged but it had been shelved on top of a stack instead of between books.) But for the most part, everything has a purpose, most everything has a place, and aside from stacks upon stacks upon stacks of coloring papers, our home is generally free from clutter.
For us, purging and tidying our home has allowed us to better serve our family and friends. I wish the minimalist movement was as popular a decade ago –– oh the many tears it might've saved me, especially during my early years of motherhood. To put it mildly, our apartment was not tidy. Things (a lot of unnecessary and unneeded possessions) were everywhere. Our newborn's closet, instead of holding tiny clothes and baby toys, held boxes and boxes of unused possessions. Our kitchen counter was a mountain of papers –– one push the wrong way and we'd have an avalanche. The mere thought of entertaining friends and family reduced me to tears.
There's this tricky balance between fake and real. We want to be, of course, real. We also, of course, want a tidy home. And so, at some point, you either have just that –– a tidy home –– or, you have a somewhat tidy home and a master bedroom with everything piled on the bed that didn't find its designated place before your guests arrived. Am I right?
We believe the lie that we need more things and that lie eventually traps us in our own homes.
In all honesty, my master bedroom still fits the description above. It's something I want to work on this year –– continuing to pare down our material things to those that are useful and meaningful. But, as a believer, I want to work towards simplicity for a greater goal –– not just because I love the minimalistic aesthetic or because I wish to have Marie Kondo's tidying skills. No, I want simplicity because I want nothing to impede community, friendship, kingdom work. Jani Ortlund put it this way –– "I believe that a godly home is a foretaste of heaven. Our homes, imperfect as they are, must be a haven from the chaos outside. They should be a reflection of our eternal home, where troubled souls find peace, weary hearts find rest, hungry bodies find refreshment, lonely pilgrims find communion, and wounded spirits find compassion."
My home is always littered with toys and books and my excited little ones literally bounce off the sofa when guests arrive. I know peace and rest, refreshment, communion, and compassion can easily be found amongst toys and books strewn about, excited little ones, and a kitchen sink loaded with dirty dishes. But mounds of papers, books that have sat unread for years, three pairs of slippers, five throw blankets, an overflowing junk drawer filled with whoknowswhat, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera –– whatever it might be for me or you –– these are the things that can go. These are the things that can take extra time when preparing our home for guests. These are the things that cause tensions to rise and tears to be shed. These are the things that cause our homes to be untidy. These are the things that grow materialistic hearts in our children.
Here's to working on these things in twenty-sixteen, not to attempt to put a checkmark in the 'perfect home' box but to check the affections of our hearts in very real and tangible ways.