How to Declutter Your Heart
My home was mostly white walls and floors when I got married. We had each other and a few pieces of mismatched furniture salvaged from my husband’s bachelor days. Now 13 years and 2 kids later we are busting at the seams with stuff: old furniture, sentimental knickknacks, and a host of forgotten toys.
We need to declutter and deep clean in that order. And although I have high aspirations I am not sure it will happen at the magnitude with which it is needed. Honestly, it may not happen at all.
Sometimes our hearts are like this: cluttered.
It happens over time, not immediately. Maybe it starts with a misunderstanding, or a betrayal. Time nurses a wound like a newborn baby and before you know it, bitterness is fully grown and hanging out in our hearts.
It might begin as a dream: an innocent desire of becoming great. But obscurity ensues deferring the dream indefinitely. What we want does however happen to our neighbor in grand fashion. Without realizing it, this opens the door for jealousy and envy to creep into our hearts.
Overtime these unwanted stowaways collect dust and seemingly become unrecognizable. Thus, there is a potential for our hearts to be ridden with memories, hang-ups, guilt, sin, and the like.
I call it heart clutter.
This collection of unmentionables is nothing you want to sell on Facebook. In fact, you don’t really want anyone to know you have it – not to mention how long it has been there. But it happens, doesn’t it?
If we are not careful our hearts can become like double sided tape picking up things with increasing ease. And with the advent of spring I’m reminded it is not just my home that could use a deep clean; it’s my heart too. Especially for those spots I’ve overlooked or ignored: unintentionally or on purpose.
God is not a surface clean God. He’s never duped by our outward appearance. He, better than anyone, knows that no human being is exempt from needing to declutter our hearts. Even David, described as a man after God’s own heart, asked God to examine the contents of his soul in Psalms 139: 23 – 24 (NIV).
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
His prayer gives us three practical steps to follow in decluttering our hearts.
#1 Ask God
David courageously asked God to conduct an internal excavation. This was a brave request considering God knows all things, even that which we hide from ourselves.
And though the combination of our mind, will, and emotions may look like a long overdue garage sale, He is not hesitant to delve inside. He is not repelled by the complexity of our soul. Fully aware of the sum total of who we are, He delights in us.
God’s deep dig encompasses that humiliating middle school experience, our family function and lack thereof, personality quirks, life purpose, deeply ingrained fears, sin, bad habits, and HORMONES (need I say more). With abundant wisdom He gets us.
#2 Listen to God
David not only asked, but was prepared to listen to all that God would reveal to him about his heart. This was evident by his words “See if there is any offensive way in me,” David wanted to know God’s opinion of who he was at his core.
Have you ever asked a question you really didn’t want the answer to? I have. Ashamedly, I’ve even bitten the head off the person I asked.
If we choose, like David, to declutter our hearts we need to be prepared for what God has to say about us. He may ask us to part with a piece of ourselves we feel intimately connected to. Though it may be difficult, we can rest in the truth that God’s love is extravagant.
Scripture tells us “For the LORD disciplines those he loves. . .” Hebrews 12: 6 (NLT)
In love He prunes our hearts: eliminating those things that hinder our growth. Gently he persistently prompts us to release the jumbled hodgepodge of clutter we’ve accumulated. Because he created us we can trust He has a purpose when He says “Let it go.”
#3 Follow God
David ends his Psalm by saying “. . . Lead me into the way of everlasting.” If you are like me, sometimes I think I am a shepherd rather than a sheep. Foolishly, I get confused into thinking I can do a better job leading myself; but I can’t.
This is futile because a self-led person is headed for ruin. It is better to be led by God who sees our beginning and our end. If He can speak to the waves and bring peace then he can speak to the clutter in our souls and bring order. We must surrender to Him: believing His infinite understanding of who we are is far superior than our finite perspective.