Get Organized -- Day II
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Hebrews 12:1-3
This passage likens our life to a race with eternity with God being the end goal. As our example of persevering in doing God's will until the very end, we have Jesus, who endured the cross and raised to life again.
Imagine running a marathon with heavy weights tied to our ankles, wrists, and race and while carrying a suitcase full of junk. Sounds hard, doesn't it? True long distance runners don't want to be weighed down with anything. In a long distance race, they don't even carry water bottles with them, but pick up water as needed at special stands. Similarly, this passage tells us to throw off anything that would hinder us as we run the course of life.
In our race, sin is one weight we certainly don't want to be shackled with. As vitally important as it is to confess and turn from the sins that can dog us, however, that's not my focus in this article. I am thinking more of the things that hinder us. Some of the weights we carry around in life are not actual sin, but are hindrances such as misplaced priorities; worries; sorrows we have not mourned and dealt with; painful memories that, again, we have not resolved, indulging in habits that lead to poor physical conditioning, and the like.
For me, clutter can be a weight that hinders me in the race of life. So, too, can be disorganization. When I am disorganized and when I allow my surroundings to become cluttered, I spend way too much time doing things like looking for lost keys and papers, making up for deadlines and appointments I missed, regretting not having answered an invitation in a timely manner, having to to emergency cleaning before having people over, shoving clutter out of the way so someone will have a place to sit or eat or work, snacking too much instead of doing my work, over-booking my schedule, under-booking my schedule, etc.
When I am organized, I can handle the details of life efficiently and have more time to spend on my relationship with the Lord and with others. I feel better physically and emotionally and have more energy for activities that I love and cherish. I know where things are, and I can put my hands on them quickly. I can lend things easily, because I don't have to hunt for an hour to find something that someone needs.
For me, one hindrance to getting rid of clutter is attaching too much sentiment to things. We all enjoy some keepsakes. However, if we are too sentimentally attached to things, we can wind up keeping things that we don't really like simply because someone gave them to us. We can take the warm feelings that we have for a person or for a person's memory and attach them to an inanimate object.
Likewise, we can even hold on to things that make us feel sad, guilty, or depressed, rather than letting them go. For example, if we started a project some time ago and have yet to finish it, we may hang on to it rather than simply admit, "My priorities have changed. I don't want to complete that project." Every time we see the unfinished work, we will feel slightly guilty or uneasy. It would be more freeing to keep only those things we really intend to complete.
Similarly, we may keep an object out of sentimental obligation, even though the sight of that object only stirs up feelings of mourning or memories of painful events within us. A true keepsake might invoke bittersweet feelings, particularly if it belonged to someone who has passed on, but the sweetness of the memory should far, far outweigh the pang.
In the same way that clutter can weight us down, holding on to emotional baggage can lead to more clutter! When we drag around with heavy hearts, we are not as likely to make the kinds of focused decisions necessary to stay organized and clutter free. We allow our surroundings to become disordered.
That's not to say that we shouldn't feel sorrow or go through times of mourning. Only the most shallow of hearts lives in a hurting world and feels no pains of compassion. Additionally, we all must work through times of personal loss and suffering. We do no kindness to ourselves or our loved ones if we force ourselves to march along through life without taking time to deal with our feelings. When depression and anxiety rule us, however, we will become bogged down with life. We will feel weighed down, and we will drag through the race that the Lord has prepared for us. If that is the case, it's time to seek help from the Lord and from others so that we can be freed of these shackles.
Some people, through no fault of their own, will face a chronic tendency to feel sluggish or depressed or anxious. In such cases, it's still vital to seek help so that we can run the best race that we can.
The irony is that when we are in a funk, we feel like doing anything but organizing ourselves and de-cluttering our spaces. However, the longer we go without attending to these things, the more clutter builds up and the more scattered we feel -- which, in turns, makes us feel even worse. Sometimes, the cure for a long-standing bout of the blues begins with taking small, measurable steps to clear away the mess and to keep to a schedule.
Some practical tips are
1) Think about what things hinder you in your relationship with the Lord. What things keep you from running the course He's marked out for you? From the perspective of the finish line, are your priorities in order?
2) If you are a clutterer or if you are disorganized, think about why. Do you clutter because it seems easier to throw something down where it is than to put it away? Are you a closet perfectionist who figures that if you can't make it perfect, you won't do anything? Are you lazy at times? Afraid? Sad? Bored? Overly sentimental about material things? Imagine what your life would be like if you eliminated some clutter from your life and if you were more organized. Would you be happier? More productive? Would your family members be happier? Can you see yourself improving in these areas.
3) Are you convinced that adding a little order and structure to your household and to your life will accomplish wonderful things? Or, do you think it's not that important?
4) Tackle one chore over which you've been procrastinating.