Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Clutter Cure

In my ongoing quest to be organized, I checked a book, The Clutter Cure by Judi Culbertson, out of the local library. It promised to teach me "Three Steps to Letting Go of Stuff, Organizing Your Space & Creating the Home of Your Dreams".

Judi is good at making the reader ask important questions of herself to determine why she keeps so much stuff. There is a lot of emotional baggage attached to our things. Sometimes they remind us of someone we love, or even more poignant, loved and lost. Sometimes they produce guilt if we contemplate getting rid of the things. We keep them because we just know that Great Aunt Nelly loved them - and it doesn't matter that we don't particularly like those things much, ourselves.

I am taking a good look around my house to see what I hold onto that is weighing me down. There are many things that just take up space and don't really give me pleasure anymore. They just end up being one more thing that needs to be dusted or cleaned.

Today I went through my closet, again, and rid myself of two green garbage bags full of clothing that was either outdated, or didn't fit properly, or was stained or damaged in some way. I have to coerce my husband into sorting his own things, with my help, but I know that won't happen any time soon. I'll have to set a and promise him great rewards!

In The Clutter Cure, Step One, Judi has added some worksheets - "Stuff Lists" - that force the reader to evaluate what items she is holding onto because they are perfectly good (but does she really need them?) or because they were free, or a 'good deal' (but would she replace the items if they were lost in a fire?) or because they are 'evidence' (part of her personal history that she might need some day, or want to remember - but can a picture be taken of the evidence and displayed in an album or on a wall?). Judi has a whole worksheet on paper items - bills, magazines, newspapers, books, flyers, etc. , and another one on sentimental items. She gives plenty of samples of "self-talk" you can use to remind yourself why you simply don't want to hang onto the items, but leaves the final statement up to you. For example, "When you are struggling to let go of items like these in the future, you can tell yourself: _____________________. She leaves plenty of fill-in-the-blank spaces for your own ideas, thus personalizing the method to the reader.

Step Two is Assessment. What would your dream bedroom look like? Your bathroom? Your kitchen? Judi encourages her readers to assess and evaluate, so they can de-clutter and plan the home they really want to live in.

Step Three is A Call to Action. Once the reader has filled out the stuff lists and decided what items she wants to dispose of, all that remains is to DO it. Judi includes suggestions of where to donate specific items, and gives clear instructions about selling things through Ebay, for instance.

I followed the links she gave to a couple of websites. If you want to be horrified, go to
Squalor Survivors and explore. I followed a couple of links and watched videos of people who simply can't throw things away. One of the sites was called Children of Hoarders, and it was horrifying to see how some people have let this compulsion to keep things ruin their lives.

Luke 12:16 Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: "The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. 17 "And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ 18 "So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. 19 ‘And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry."‘

20 "But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’

21 "So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."

22 ¶ Then He said to His disciples, "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on.
23 "Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. 24 "Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? 25 "And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 26 "If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest?

27 "Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 "If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith?

29 "And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. 30 "For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. 31 "But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.

A lot of people hoard because they fear the future: "I might need this some day. What if there is a downturn in the economy?" Yet God is in control of the future.

People hoard because they need evidence that they are special, that they are important. Yet God is the One who knows us through and through, and loves us enough that He sent His Son to die in our place.

People hoard because they want lots of stuff - it makes them feel powerful. Yet in the end, we take nothing with us. Better that we should live in a peaceful, calm, organized environment that frees us to serve the Lord in various ways, than to be occupied with building storehouses for our many possessions.

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