by Verlisia Harris
It’s amazing how much we can accumulate as humans over time, isn’t it? Immediately over the past year, we realize the enormity of “so-called treasures” we’ve amassed so effortlessly (it seems), only to find we’ve reached our capacity to hold on and contain it all. We’ve simply run out of room. That, which we determined before to bring us comfort, has now become a contributor to our discomfort, crowding our space. We find ourselves helplessly overwhelmed.
Precise terminology has been attributed to describe this common phenomenon. It is defined as—“clutter”- steadily and consistently developing over time, growing little by little, increasing and expanding in volume, totally untidy in appearance, taking on a life of its own, overpowering our surroundings, robbing us of time, zapping our energy, defeating our efforts—“clutter.” Just the mere thought and mention of the word…” clutter” makes us feel like we’re out of control and drowning, never to resurface again. Clutter reveals our unfailing tendency to excel in the art of procrastination, putting off the mandatory at a more convenient time. Clutter represents the backlog of junk we’ve accumulated in an intangible form which is defined as our good, self-justified intentions, ideas, or goals; clutter also can be represented in tangible forms, such as material things and coveted possessions we often struggle with to make a definite decision to depart. Deemed as a “prized possession,” this clutter is channeled into what used to be a standard, but now a forgotten place of ‘safe keeping’ for that opportune occasion, or rainy day. Hopelessly appraising the “mountain” of our clutter dilemma, we scratch our heads in bewilderment, wondering how we allowed all this stuff to pile up and where in the world did it all come from.
According to www.merriam-webster.com, clutter is defined as a crowded or confused mass or collection, a collection of scattered things, a large amount of things that are not arranged in a neat of orderly way, a crowded or disordered collection of things. As a verb, it means to fill or cover with scattered or disordered things that impede movement or reduce effectiveness. Its very definition indicates that clutter is what clutter does. In the world of radar detection, clutter is the echo of interference caused by a reflection of objects, as on the ground, other than the target.
It’s also interesting to discover that clutter is ultimately derived from a word that means ‘to clot.” (www.merriam-webster.com). A clot is formed when a substance or material is lumped or clumped together to form a mass of blockage or obstruction, restricting or preventing freedom of passage, flow or movement.
In the scripture, I am reminded of Luke 12:15-21 (NIV) which admonishes us that “life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” Continuously making room to hold on to excess or over-abundance is to no avail. For after life on this earth, the abundance of things does not hold any value; God values the condition of our souls. The rich man sought to make room by accommodating the increasing quantity of his things and the expansion of his possessions, but he failed to make room for the One who is truly necessary above all earthly and material things—God! Luke 12:21 warns us that it’s foolish and dangerous to store up, or accumulate earthly things for ourselves, but not have a rich relationship with God (NLT). We must guard our hearts from the temptation of getting “stuck” on stuff and failing to adhere to our relationship with God, risking the very loss of our souls. Our souls can only find true joy, peace and fulfillment in Him, not in the abundance of things.
A cluttered environment signifies the presence of a plethora of conditions that negatively impact our way of living: namely disorder, disarray, dysfunction, disturbance, distraction, disruption and chaos are ones to list. As we reflect on the past year of 2017 and assess our lives as it relates to clutter, you may ask, “How does this all relate to me? Consider these sobering questions as we seek to examine ourselves and gain better clarity: What sources of clutter can you identify in your own space or home, in your own mind, in your own circle, or in your own living? Is it the disorderly piles of plastic bags in your garage, filled with items you no longer use? Is it the heap of clothes in disarray in the back of your closet you can no longer fit into? Is it the dishes piled high in the sink that often get conveniently overlooked or ignored? Is it the disturbance of negative words, thoughts, feelings or attitudes that crowd your mind and impede your progress? Is it the constant habitual behaviors or the mass of meaningless activities (or the lack thereof), that inhibit your personal growth, hinder your productivity and hog your time? Or, could it be that certain person in your circle, or personalities and relationships in your life that serve as a distraction to you, creating sore discomfort, distress, and disruption?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, allow me to provoke you to take action. In all its forms, clutter presents to us a key challenge we must all learn to master in order to prove what’s truly important and positive in our lives. I present to you the challenge of elimination. The challenge of elimination simply involves ultimately ridding ourselves of those things, thoughts, feelings, attitudes, habits, and relationships that crowd our space and obstruct our advancement in effectively moving forward in finding true fulfillment and good success. In order to determine what must go, as opposed to what can stay, one must determine his or her life goals and purpose. Anything or person in your life that restricts, interferes, inhibits, disrupts or obstructs your movement toward accomplishing your goals and realizing your purpose, is not fit and can no longer be allowed to take up residence in your life; it must be dismissed and eliminated.
In light of this challenge, I would like to share an amusing, yet personal experience of my own. In my home, I’ve adopted a new mantra for my space and life in 2018. My goal and purpose for my home are to remain clean, neat, organized and in order, even down to my personal files and important papers. It may sound somewhat odd or crazy to some, but I determined to take a simple, but radical approach–radical in relation to my 3 teenagers, ages 14, 17 and 18, whose clutter tendencies can frustrate an OCD mom beyond her wits. I found that it works (for me, at least)! Whenever I see or observe the appearance of what could be the formation of clutter in my trail, I immediately say out loud either to myself or to my teens–especially when I’ve detected the creation of clutter by their hands– I distinctly announce aloud at the top of my voice, “This is my clutter-free world,” signifying awareness to myself and to my teens that the out-of-place item has to be picked up and put up in its place. It can no longer remain out of place, for everything has been organized and it has a definite home. If the items no longer fit the purposes of my home or its function is no longer suitable, it is dismissed in the trash and eliminated from my home. Immediately, I am motivated and my teens are motivated to pick up behind themselves, eliminating the stockpiling and the clutter. I’ve said it so much at home around my teenagers, that they began to anticipate my announcement even before it rolls off my tongue and comes out of my mouth. Though they poke fun at me sometimes by mimicking my mantra, it’s evident to me, that my words are sticking to their ears for they have picked up my mantra and ran with it. Literally, all of us are announcing the same thing and moving positively in the same direction. We’re all on one accord, proactively organizing our home by putting things in their appropriate places and eliminating the clutter. Since the initiation of my mantra, a shift has taken place, resulting in a focus on the things that really matter: an atmosphere at home that’s more creative, joyful, peaceful and free. As a happy person and a proud mom, I’m singing just like the popular McDonald’s commercial,”Ba-da-ba-BAH-bah…I’m loving it!’
-This article originates from a series of writings entitled, “The Butterfly Chronicles.”
The objective is to offer encouragement, positive perspective and insight to carry you through the sometimes dark, tumultuous process of change and transformation-very much like the metamorphosis of the caterpillar.
The ultimate goal is to uncover and celebrate that hidden beauty and purpose our Creator has so marvelously designed within our lives to authenticate us and glorify Him-much like the unveiling of the butterfly.
I pray that this writing has been a blessing to you! May you be provoked, encouraged, and inspired.
Verlisia L. Harris is a Birmingham, Alabama native and has been a resident of Houston, TX since 2008. She is a proud single mother of three teens, Caleb, Zion and Victory. She loves to write, journal, sing and read great books (namely, her bible) and periodicals. She faithfully serves as a youth pastor, teacher and intercessor at her church.
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