Keep it or dump it? Here’s 10 valuable tips for decluttering your inner life.

The move from our three-storey home of 35 years to somewhere much smaller was always going to be a challenge. Over the many years much had been accumulated – some because we could not bear to part with it. Some just because that’s what happens.

And when that time came – and with Christmas just around the corner – I found myself singing to myself what was close to reality:

‘On the twelfth day of moving, these objects I did see…

12 torches shining; 

11 staplers stapling;

10 scissors snipping;

9 kitchen gadgets;

8 pairs of wellies;

7 extra duvets;

6 coffee tables;

5 IKEA Allen keys!

4 broken bikes;

3 doormats;

2 rusty woks;

and a fish taaaaank going for free!’

To be honest, some of the decisions were easy. After all, who needs five pairs of scissors? Just keeping the best ones made sense. But it was not all that simple.

Which got me thinking about how we can apply the principles of physically decluttering to our inner life – and the habits, thoughts, attitudes we’ve gathered over the years.

This is what I came up with – some simple questions to ask ourselves and some actions to take.

1.Is it time for an internal review?

How long is it since you sat quietly and took stock of what’s ‘cluttering’ your thoughts and emotions? Too long? Then make the commitment to do so, asking God to help you start and expecting him to be with you in the process.

2.Does such a thought fill you with dread?

Don’t be hard on yourself or charge off in the direction of feeling guilty – any more than you should about what may be cluttering your garage or attic. God wants to bless you as you ‘clean house’ and has plans for your future, for hope.

3.Are you aware of what’s in your life – emotionally and spiritually?

It’s easy to get in a rut and feel your inner life is ‘same old, same old’. But the best years may be ahead and some uncluttering could give you the space for it to unfold.

 4.What do you need to prioritise?

Looking after your health and wellbeing – physically and emotionally –is vital and not selfish. So think about rooting out activities and external demands that put this at risk.

5.Is there stuff you should dump?

Has the time come to lay down some of the past you are carrying? Hurts, resentments, disappointments, failures? Perhaps the spiritual equivalent of your local dump is The Cross – which is where you need to take them and leave them.

6.What’s good that you need to celebrate?

A physical declutter can often reveal some treasures that have been overlooked and deserve dusting down and giving pride of place. That can be true of our inner lives too. Look out for those gems that deserve being celebrated and made more of.

7.Are you taking time to enquire and listen to what God wants to say to you?

With a listening ear, ask God what he’d love you to leave go of and what he’d like you to make room for. Perhaps do so in the company of those closest to you. You may be surprised at the answers.

8.How are your spiritual disciplines?

Discipleship is lifelong learning and progress only comes through regularly practising spiritual habits like taking time with the Bible, praying and giving thanks, loving others.

9.Are there old hopes and dreams that God is stirring in you again – or could do?

The passing years might have dulled desires and aspirations you once had. So consider spending time remembering, perhaps reading old journals or sharing with long term friends. Maybe the time has now come to go for it.

 10.Is Jesus at the centre of your life or are other loves competing?

The first Commandment speaks about God’s loving jealousy for us to stay in a mutually committed relationship with him. One that places our trust in him alone to deliver and see us through. Is that where you are?

That’s my list. To be honest, it’s a lot more challenging than figuring out which pair of scissors to keep. But even more important.

If you have found this helpful please share it using the links below.

Celia Bowring

Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother.

Comments

    1. Hi Brenda , Are you downsizing any time soon? I suggest you start declutter a good 5 years before!!
      Bless you.

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The word retirement is not even in the Bible. What is taught in scripture is transition. There is nothing that says you work most of your life and then get to be selfish for the next 20 years

Rick Warren, PurposeDrivenLife