My home (and my life) has been transformed by the most unexpected treasure: the magical art of tidying up. Honestly, I didn’t even know I needed this unexpected gift, and I found it in the last place I thought I needed to look.
Friend, I want to share with you my story so that you too can be released to a fresh, new perspective on life, joy and simplicity.
She handed me the book at Thanksgiving and I rolled my eyes.
“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up?” I said, with more than a little disdain in my voice.
“Yes!” my mom cried, chuckling a little. “I’m telling you, it’s an incredible book! You’ve got to take a look at it.”
I held the book in my hands and quickly leafed through the heavily highlighted pages covered with many sticky notes and my mom’s familiar handwriting.
An organizing book? What was she trying to say? Is my house that much of a mess? I was not convinced this was something I needed to read, let alone implement in this hectic life season.
And then I was hit with the first part of the miracle–a few rare moments alone with nothing to do (as moms you know that never happens!).
We’d stayed at my parents house an extra day after Thanksgiving, and I found myself one afternoon sitting in their living room with no one else around. My mom’s usual assortment of housekeeping magazines wasn’t on the endtable. In fact, the table was completely empty except for the lamp, a lonely coaster… and that book.
Alright, fine, I mused to myself. Let’s take a look at this.
Does It Still Bring Me Joy?
The first few pages weren’t honestly that transformational for me. Another organizing book, another woman with the “perfect answer” for how to keep your home tidy. Yawn.
But then I sensed something different lurking between the pages. True, author Marie Kondo was sharing her suggestions for tidying up and keeping a home clean, but her criteria for keeping or discarding items was something I’d never heard before. She simply wants you to ask yourself, “Does this item still bring me joy?”
This got my attention. Joy? That was something I’d written a course about and spent much time considering as a mom and Christ-follower. What was this link between my stuff and my joy level? And why had she elevated this to be the highest criterion for determining if something should stay in my house or hit the Goodwill pile?
I kept reading. In fact, I took the book home the next day and devoured its short 224 pages (confession: it’s been a long time since I’ve actually felt compelled to finish a non-fiction book like this, let alone in less than a week).
The more I read of the book, the more I was convinced that this book’s wisdom was the anecdote to the subtle fog of discontent and restlessness that’d settled over my heart recently.
The Heart Magic of Tidying Up (That I Didn’t Know I Needed)
You see I hadn’t been sad or depressed or anything of that sort. But for quite some time I’d been dealing with a sluggishness–a malaise–that left me confused and frustrated. I have a relatively good (but imperfect) life (a great marriage, awesome kids, stable future, strong faith, etc) and yet, for months I couldn’t shake the weight I felt on my heart.
That same phrase “Does it still bring you joy?” kept appearing throughout the book. “It may have brought you joy in the past, but if it doesn’t anymore, then it’s time to release it to someone else so that it (and you) can move on.”
Now I don’t necessarily endorse personifying our stuff as having “feelings” and “needing to move on,” but I get the author’s point.
There was all kinds of stuff–physical and emotional–that I’d allowed to collect in the recesses of my home and heart. It was time for me to examine each area and determine which I needed to keep, and what I needed to let go.
And that’s why I (rather excitedly) put a tidying up session at the top of my to-do list for Christmas break.
Sifting Through and Letting Go
I won’t get into the nitty gritty of my clean out process except to say that the author’s tidying up methods (and subsequent organizational tips) are spot on.
Per her suggestions, I pulled everything out of my closets and couldn’t believe all that I’d collected. And I couldn’t believe my response (and the corresponding freedom I felt) as I went through each item.
The pile of hangers on the ground kept growing and this alone inspired me (especially since, in our home, it never seemed like we had enough hangers).
I think this process was so transformative for me because it released me from the guilt I normally feel when forced to clean out (notice my choice of words there? “forced”?).
This time, I was still able to give each item worth–even those with a particular emotional attachment–because I could acknowledge that, yes, this item had been valuable to me at one time but it had faithfully served its purpose.
This item still had value but its time with me had come to a close. By holding on to it, I was keeping it from serving someone else, and I was just heaping more and more baggage on myself.
And that’s why the longer I sorted the easier it was to let go. The freedom of release was intoxicating and life-changing.
I shared the principles with my daughter and my husband (and my three other kids are tackling their tidying up project next week right before Christmas). I can’t wait!
The True Magic of Tidying Up
Cleaning out my home was important (and even brought purpose to my Christmas decorating this year). But ultimately, the true magic of tidying up was when I applied the book’s principles to the heavy burden weighing on my soul.
I began to ponder these questions:
What thought patterns or “must-do” ideologies had I allowed to creep into my heart?
What regular activities were important at one time, but were no longer necessary?
Why did I now dread some of my must-do daily activities (and what reframing could I do to change that)?
God was so faithful to not only reveal the answers to these questions but to show me a beautiful process for preparing myself (and my kids) for the new year.
I’m excited to reveal that in the next post!
P.S. I also chatted about this topic in a recent scope.
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Have you been dealing with an unexplainable heaviness and lack of joy in your heart? How could the magical art of tidying up (physically and mentally) bring clarity? Share below and let us pray for you!