What if Jesus returns and sees my house like this?
I admit it. I’m a stacker. I’m a stuffer. There are towers of Rubbermaid plastic bins in my garage, my attic, and even a few in other spots. My desk has stacks of papers. And my drawers? Let’s not go there. I’m an executive, a leader, a multi-tasking monster than juggles like nobody’s business…..a woman who accomplishes things. How could I let my house get like this?
I think it just slowly happens over time. I always PLAN on getting back to that project or filing that paperwork, or going through the kids’ things from school. I’ll just put this magazine here because I WANT to read it. Can’t throw it away until I do. I WILL put those adorable VBS crafts in a scrapbook. I will. And I’m CERTAINLY going to have that amazing quilt made with all of these t-shirts so I can’t get rid of them. Just not sure when. I really NEED to read that article about SEO so I’ll print it and stick it on this desk stack. Instead, it all just ends up getting saved for that “day when I have time.” You know…..later.
Now let’s be clear. I’m not proud of this situation. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s embarrassing. I don’t want my children to sign me up for the HOARDER show because I still have that stuffed turkey she made in first grade, the first baby onesie he wore, and that paper he scribbled on in his first big kid class. I want to be an example to them of order and organization.
I used to think I was the only one. And then I started talking about it…..and I could see the relief in other women’s faces. One friend shared that her marriage is suffering because of her stacking. Someone else told me they don’t have play dates at their house because of clutter. One said she only holds meetings in her conference room at work because her office has become overwhelmed with stacks. And even another told me she has to pass on having her small group over because she is afraid of the judgment. Just do an online search for Bible studies on collecting, messiness, or hoarding and we realize we are not alone.
I feel ya’, sisters. We all PLAN on doing something with all of this stuff. We didn’t set out with the goal of collecting so much we are putting Target out of stock on storage bins, Ziploc bags, and manila folders. It just happens. Over time. A little bit at a time so that one day we look around and it’s overwhelming. Whether we only have that one junk drawer, or our house is off limits to family and friends, let’s get over the overwhelmed feeling together!
This week, I found myself doing some reading in 1 Chronicles. It’s not the easiest book of the Bible to read. There are lots of lists and names. In between all the genealogies, there are some interesting pieces of history. King David knew his son, Solomon, was going to build God’s temple, so he started amassing thousands of tons of gold, bronze, and other precious materials so Solomon would have everything he would need for the project. God gave David very specific details on the architecture, materials, and labor that would be needed, so David recruited overseers, hired workers, and organized the families who would work in the temples. David instructed Solomon about the temple building in 1 Chronicles 22:14-16 (NIV):
I have taken great pains to provide for the temple of the Lord a hundred thousand talents of gold, a million talents of silver, quantities of bronze and iron too great to be weighed, and wood and stone. And you may add to them. You have many workers: stonecutters, masons and carpenters, as well as those skilled in every kind of work in gold and silver, bronze and iron—craftsmen beyond number. Now begin the work, and the Lord be with you.
David made sure every single thing was planned in advance, even though he knew he would never see it completed. Why? It’s because David was listening to God, and God is a God of order. God didn’t just want any old temple. He wanted an organized, well-thought, planned to the max monument…..because it was important.
Oooohhhh. That reason is really why we should maintain order in our homes. God has a plan for everything in our lives because we are important to Him. He doesn’t want us to feel guilty and overwhelmed as we look around our houses, offices, and attics. He doesn’t want us to be too embarrassed to open the door to a neighbor stopping by. As we seek to follow God’s plan for us, our relationships, families, and work, we can’t forget God also has a plan for our WHOLE lives.
“But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way,” (1 Corinthians 14:40).
Ladies, we’ve got this. We can lead teams of people and face challenging tasks head-on at work without breaking a sweat. Let’s figure out how to get on top of those stacks, too.
The first task is to declare war on the stacks. Think like a manager, since, after all, we ARE the managers of our homes. What’s our attack plan? Here are some considerations:
- Can or should we do this alone? For me, that answer is no. I feed off of the energy of other people. Just by having someone sit there with me and go through the bin, I will do it faster because it will be more fun doing it with someone, even if it is someone I pay to be there.
- Who can we recruit to help? Most of us have that sister, cousin, friend, or niece who loves to organize, clean, and that we jokingly call OCD. We need to call them! I did it. One of my oldest friends flew in for a girls’ weekend and we had fun going through stuff. Not glamorous, I know, but the sense of connection and accomplishment was amazing.
- Do we have a budget to throw at this project? Some of us don’t have family close to help or there’s no one with which we want to pour through the stacks. That’s ok. Put aside a budget and hire someone. There are many service companies who do this type of work. AND there are college kids that will help. I hired a lady from church once that was out of work. She loved reorganizing my pantry and laundry and it was a blessing to her. One of my best friends hired her 16 year old Goddaughter to come spend the day cleaning her 11 year old’s room with her…..closet, drawers, and all. For $40, everyone was happy!
Now that we have a plan…..GET STARTED! Let’s not plan some mythical marathon day a month from now that will never really happen. Let’s start now.
- Yes, we have jobs and teams and projects and deadlines at work. AND this process is important. Allocate a weekend day, an hour a night, take a few vacation days…..do whatever it takes.
- And let’s not overcomplicate it by trying to buy more fancy bins, label makers, or have to visit The Container Store and spend $700.
- AND a watch out is that we don’t just move the stacks around into more stacks that look neater and more organized.
- Just start! Some of us work well with deadlines (yep, that’s me!) so schedule a charity pickup service to come to your house on a certain date and make a vow to someone that will hold us accountable that we won’t change the appointment. Then get after it!
Get other people out of the house. While some of us want someone with which to do this project, there are certain people we don’t want around. Schedule something fun for them and get them gone.
- If we have a hard time pitching stuff, odds are our kids probably don’t want to get rid of their stuff either. They’re not going to want us to get rid of that nick knack from last year’s Easter carnival, but they won’t miss it when it’s gone.
- Have a roommate or spouse from which we sense a slightly judgmental vibe when a project like this rolls around? See ya’! We don’t need any more emotion involved in this process than we already have on our own.
- If the logistics just don’t work to get the children out of the house, then there are ways to get around it. If the standard stuff about “It’s time to share our things with others less fortunate,” doesn’t work, consider “buying” the children’s things from them. You’d be surprised how motivated kids can be when offered a quarter for every toy they give up.
- Another good tactic is to just put all of the stuff you want to go through in one room, get a chair, get a box of garbage bags, close the door, and get cranking.
Let it go! Now! We are probably never really going to have that garage sale, drop things off at the consignment store, take the pictures to list things on eBay or those new Facebook community groups. We don’t have the time. That lack of time is what got us here in the first place. It’s ok. We are busy, working women. Besides, if it’s been stacked in a corner of our house for five years, NO ONE WANTS IT!
- I’ve heard people say “just give it away or throw it away.” Use two different colors of trash bags…..one for trash and one for the donation station of our choice.
- For some of us, it’s not that easy. BUT the bottom line is that STUFF NEEDS TO GO! If you grew up thrifty like I did, your first reaction may be to hold on to it rather than pitch it. We can overcome this one by remembering that God has called us to be a good steward of everything…..including the stuff we have sitting around. We have to use it, pitch it, donate it, or sell it WITHIN THE NEXT 3 DAYS.
- Ok this approach is drastic BUT it works. Just put stuff out on the sidewalk for the garbage pickup a few days early and then put on a few of those Facebook groups that you have XXXXX available for free for pick up. Let people pick through it without having to come to your door and then the garbage crew takes the rest.
Now, maybe the hardest part. We have to keep it up. Clutter is like a Gremlin. It multiplies when we’re not looking so it is a constant process.
- I have a wise friend who tells me, “Everything is a ten minute job.” Take 10 minutes every day to keep things organized.
- Another friend set up a long folding table in her garage. When she gets home from that birthday party, Easter festival, VBS, or brings in the mail and shopping bags, she puts it all there. NONE of it comes through the door into her house until it has been sorted into the “trash,” “donate,” or “use it now,” “use it later” bins she has under the table. Only the stuff we are going to use right away should make it into our living space.
- For me, I’ve learned I have to be vigilant. With five of us here, it only takes a day or two of me not making eye contact with the stuff on the counter for it to turn into a problem. This process is a daily process, not a binge.
AND let’s remember to HAVE FUN while we’re at it. This process doesn’t have to be a daunting task when we break it down. Remember, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord,” (Colossians 3:23).
Now I wish it were this easy but I know it’s not. So we also pray continuously. We pray for energy, peace, and real friends who don’t care that they have to move stuff to sit down on the couch. And most importantly, we pray for the release from guilt, shame, or embarrassment. Guilt is not from the Lord. Shame is not from the Lord. Embarrassment is not from the Lord. Stewardship, order, and grace ARE from the Lord. Let’s pray for Him to pour out those blessings over us for the rest of our lives.
Jesus, I’m ready! You won’t find me hiding behind my stacks when you come back for me! I’ll be opening the front door wide, inviting you to come on in.
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