Article by: Sarah Koontz, Founder of Living by Design Ministries
If you were to visit my house on a Wednesday morning for a coffee date, you might find yourself thinking, “Gosh, this girl has got it together! The house is spotless, the floors are clean, the coffee is hot, and…seriously…she’s pulling freshly baked scones from the oven?”
But if you were to take a moment to look beneath the surface, you would find that my life is not as neat and tidy as it seems.
Though I diligently work to keep my house in order, I often fail to recognize how much clutter I have allowed to accumulate in my heart.
A cluttered heart is far worse than a cluttered home because it is so very simple to stuff junk in the closet of your heart, slam the door, and never open it again.
This article is for anyone who, like me, has some serious de-cluttering to do on a heart level!
Heart-clutter could be the pile of unsorted emotions in the doorway, or maybe it’s the load of unforgiveness you’ve had to run through the wash cycle three times because you never got around to moving it to the dryer.
Heart-clutter sneaks up on us when we least expect it, like an undiagnosed disease slowly wrecking havoc on our body.
Yes, I am convinced heart-clutter is a form of cancer.
If it is diagnosed and treated in the early stages, the odds of survival and a full recovery are quite high.
However, if it is left unchecked for too long, it will slowly take over every aspect of our life and destroy us completely.
It’s time for us to get proactive in our approach to heart-clutter before our condition becomes critical.
And, just like any other cancer, it does no good to eliminate only a portion of the clutter.
We must cut every last bit of it out of our hearts!Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. - Proverbs 4:23
I am weary from focusing my energy on cleanliness rather than character, dust rather than destiny, and feeding my family rather than nourishing my soul!
It is time for me to relinquish it all into the hands of the One who is gently whispering to my soul, ” The condition of your heart is far more important than the cleanliness of your home.”
Have you allowed clutter to creep into your heart?
Do you feel overwhelmed, desperately in need of professional organizer to come in and hold you by the hand as you toss out all the junk?
Oh, how I wish I could be that person for you!
My girls and I just finished watching the first season of “Fixer Uppers” on HGTV.
The show features this adorable husband and wife duo who tackle these amazing home renovation projects for their clients.
They take the most unloved, beat up, and hopeless properties and transform them into immaculate show houses.
If only I could come in and fix up your heart the way that Chip and Joanna Gaines fix up houses!
But the truth is, there is only One person who has the power to orchestrate the renovation of people’s hearts.Jesus fixes up our hearts the way that Chip and Joanna Gaines #FixerUpper houses!
Yes, Jesus Christ is the ultimate heart fixer upper!
He is the cure for my cluttered heart, and for yours…if you invite him in.
As I have dedicated more time and energy to studying my Bible and caring for my heart in recent weeks, God has shown me the three most deadly forms of heart-clutter.
Problem # 1 – Inadequate Personal Boundaries
Establishing clear spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional boundaries is the first step towards a clutter-free heart.Boundaries help us to define where we end and other people begin.
They give us a sense of ownership over our own heart and empower us to create healthful relationships.
Healthy boundaries are the framework by which we determine our own personal responses to conflict and to opportunity.
They equip us to say no to the unnecessary so we are free to say yes to the eternal.
One of the most life-changing books I have ever read is Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.
It’s one of those books I recommend every Christian read at least once in their lifetime, and I find myself drawn back into the pages of my own copy every year or two.
Here is one of my favorite quotes from the book:
“When we begin to set boundaries with people we love, a really hard thing happens: they hurt. They may feel a hole where you used to plug up their aloneness, their disorganization, or their financial irresponsibility. Whatever it is, they will feel a loss. If you love them, this will be difficult for you to watch. But, when you are dealing with someone who is hurting, remember that your boundaries are both necessary for you and helpful for them. If you have been enabling them to be irresponsible, your limit setting may nudge them toward responsibility.”
Whenever my heart feels cluttered, the first thing I do is check my personal boundaries to make certain no fences are broken or in need of repair.
Problem #2 – Prioritizing the External over the Internal
Our hearts become cluttered when external demands take precedence over our internal need for self-care.
If we neglect our inner-self long enough, we will eventually collapse under the weight of the external pressures of this world.
No matter how selfish it feels, we absolutely must care for ourselves if we desire to be strong enough to care for others.
The only way to truly nourish our heart is to spend time with the One who created it.
God’s truth has a way of directing us away from busyness and towards simplicity.
Understanding and applying this transformative truth is a crucial step of the de-cluttering process.
I am wildly untrustworthy with a highlighter, and there is not a book that I own with more markings in it than my treasured copy of Ordering your Private World by Gordon MacDonald.
The premise of the book is summed up in these two sentences:
Tempted to give imbalanced attention to the public world at the expense of the private, we become involved in more programs, more meetings. Our massive responsibilities at home, work, and church have resulted in a lot of good people on the verge of collapse.
We have got to stop prioritizing the external over the internal because the consequences could be catastrophic!
Problem #3 – Chronic Un-Forgiveness
Nothing has the ability to clutter our heart like unforgivingness, it simply must go!
If we allow it to reside in our bodies for too long, it will destroy us.
Forgiving the unforgivable is a hard thing to do.
Some would say it is impossible.
But I choose to hold fast to the words of Jesus when he stated, “Everything is possible for one who believes” (Mark 9:23).Unforgiveness is like taking poison and hoping your enemy will die. ~ Joyce Meyer
If you struggle with the area of forgiveness, I encourage you to purchase a copy of Joyce Meyer’s book, Do Yourself a Favor…Forgive.
Whether you like Joyce Meyer or not, the lady has first-hand experience of the consequences of living with unforgiveness in your heart.
She has learned the value of forgiveness and offers so much insight and encouragement in this book.
Forgiveness is a choice we must make, and continue to make every moment of every day if we want to have a clutter-free heart!
I can’t say I’ve successfully cleared all the clutter from my heart, but after applying the principles I just shared with you, I feel like I am well on my way.It’s time to give up ordinary in order to make room for extraordinary.
Yes, I think I am finally ready to give up ordinary and make room for extraordinary.
I’m excited to have all that clutter cleared out so there’s more room for the things I really want in my heart…like love, compassion, and patience!
I need room for lots and lots of patience.
I hope this article has empowered you to join me in the challenging task of cleaning out all that yucky heart-clutter.
I consider you a friend, and even if we can’t have a literal coffee date, I treasure the time we spend together here in my virtual living room.
Oh, but next time you swing by, maybe you could bring the scones?