The art of decluttering life

Whether you could be feeling somewhat stuck physically, spiritually or emotionally, here’s a word for you: Declutter.

Confession time, this is one life lesson He’s tried to teach me over and over and over again the last half a decade, and I’ve just been a poor student of.

There are life lessons He will take you through over and over again until you learned it for the sanctification of your soul that you’d live the best life He’s written for you. The first time I practised the art of decluttering life was exactly five years ago in that fateful Fall of 2013 – and prophetically two months away from meeting the loveofmylife. It was wisdom that set our marriage on a healthy path. By Winter 2015, exactly two years since my maiden decluttering revelation (see the then-secret blog post well below), I’d have all but forgotten about it once we tied the knot.

Well, I had left Denmark to California with all my possessions in two bags. By the time we rented our first home together in the Bay Area, we had a huge two-bedroom apartment to fill up, and I, dutifully unwisely did. Unsurprisingly then, within a year, we were led to uproot for my Olympics TV production job in Spain, which is true to fashion of the Call I’ve always, always known. Perhaps it was an overzealousness of renting an apartment as a young married couple for the first time, but I should know better that “clutter” goes against staying the path to which we know He has called us on.

The decluttering process happened for round two – with heartbreaks and trauma not sold separately – and Madrid turned out to be the most soul-freeing and detoxing life we’ve lived. We kept to minimalist living for an entire year. One year later, we moved to Colorado for Edward’s job with just a few bags too. Yet right in the heart of suburban Colorado Springs, I was hit with amnesia.

We bought our first home within a year, and by the end of 2017, most true to form, clutter happened i.e. we dutifully unwisely filled up our 3-bedroom house. The seemingly odd thing was that when we purchased the house, we were fully conscious of the fact it’s a divine investment — that we have every intention to rent the house out after a year when the mortgage rules are lifted.

And then we’d “downsize” to just living out of a one- or two-bedroom condo.

See, I don’t mean “clutter” in the negative hoarding sense but rather in the simplest sense of possessing things you don’t really, really need. The minimalist in me knows this super well. And that there is a seeming parallel between being physically held down by these things you possess and the soul being weighed down and inhibited as well.

Moreover, the OCD neat nerd in me would be driven to ultimate depression by the amount of square feet I’ve to clean and keep the house tidy every single day otherwise my creative soul cannot function in work and in love. And “a big house” is simply setting our marriage up for failure. Cues Proverbs 21:19, and all the men say amen.

And so ladies and gentlemen, here we are in the Fall of 2018. The memory lapse I suffer from decluttering life hits me every two years, huh? (The only saving grace is our marriage is four years on still alive in vision!) So while we’re right in the midst of our decluttering process for round three, downsizing to that one-bedroom condo, this time I’m writing it all out in hope to hold myself accountable and ever more determined to guard it – especially when I do sense in my spirit a shift in life coming up where the ability to declutter is so crucial for my sanity. When you are running at 526 mph, you need to set up a life where less is more to do it all.

The good grace of the Lord means I’ve always been awakened just in time to pivot before some kind of a catastrophic crash. At the end of the day, it really is about holding our lifestyle against all the wisdom the Word offers: We are passer-bys, sojourners in this world; this world is not our home. To be ever ready and available for our ‘here I am, send me‘ moments. It’s not even about storing up expensive things (which in themselves are nothing wrong), it’s rather, unneeded things. That you can’t travel light in life.

There is a psychological correlation between the emotional or spiritual baggage we carry in our lives and the physical manifestations of the baggage we choose to pile on us. They call it “retail therapy” for a reason, or “binge eating”. Especially in the age of digital binge consumption today, it makes self-control The fruit of spiritual fruits.

I took time today to re-read the secret blog below that I penned five years ago, where at that time I was convicted about decluttering (unhealthy) relationships. And little did I know, I’d meet and be engaged to the loveofmylife exactly a year after beginning both the emotional and physical decluttering as I left Denmark.

It’s affirming to know that, emotionally, I haven’t been better since. And that came with learning to be very careful in choosing my relational commitments. And the ever growing clarity that a life in light of eternity is knowing the notion of commitment as not always a staying put at but more about staying the path to which one is called.

November 30, 2013

So I’ve been learning what it means to settle down at the heart of only eternity matters. For in about a week’s time, I am packing down and I am absolutely looking forward to packing my 16 months in Copenhagen into a couple of bags.

1 suitcase and 1 sports bag. (And maybe my red fender guitar.)

Yet, despite my minimalism lifestyle all my life pretty much, I’ve been sensing the theme of my 2014 is on “cutting right through the clutter”. It made me think.

Perhaps society taught us to perceive “settling down” as a “tying down” —  which is not at all true. Tying down inevitably leads to clutter. Whether is it physically like material goods, or emotionally like relationships. While settling down is merely a state of the heart being settled, it’s a calming and an unwavering knowing of who’s got your heart.

So here I am standing at the edge of it thinking, maybe the inability to declutter is what that weighs one down, or the proverbial ‘being stuck’. In the same way there are physical things and people you have to declutter from your life, to leave behind, to stay committed to the mission you are on.

On my way back to Copenhagen from Texas in October, I had an Acts 23 revelation when Paul was made to leave Jerusalem, the only thing God had said to him in the midst of his “eviction” was when he got to Rome he’d be graced to carry the same mission he’s called to be on. God didn’t seem to care about Paul staying in Jerusalem, or not.

Makes me rethink the notion of commitment is not always a staying put at but more about staying the path to which one is called. And I heard this on a Grey’s Anatomy re-run tonight that resonates with my spirit on understanding commitment in the light of eternity and of picking our battles for what matters most.

“There are times when even the best of us have trouble with commitment, and we may be surprised at the commitments we’re willing to let slip out of our grasp. Commitments are complicated. We may surprise ourselves by the commitments we’re willing to make, true commitment, takes effort, and sacrifice. Which is why sometimes, we have to learn the hard way, to choose our commitments very carefully.” Grey’s Anatomy

This story is part of the #livebig series here.