The biggest plus for me is that each move was an opportunity to declutter. While I’ve come to absolutely detest packing my life up in boxes, I do have an appreciation for the fact that it forces me to go through my things and realize just how much I have and probably don’t need. It allows me to reset, reevaluate, and rearrange. In a lot of ways, each move was a fresh start.
I haven’t done a very good job with that since our last move. This last time, we moved into our first home with a real-live mortgage, and it feels much more permanent than any move before. As you can imagine, over the few years we’ve been in this home, the “stuff” has certainly accumulated. And I can’t even really tell you what all the “stuff” is.
I can tell you that I’m currently staring at a pile of papers that need to be shredded. Piles of books that we no longer have space for in our bookshelf. A pile of dog toys that always seems to be growing. And the most recent addition, piles of random work stuff spread all over our dining room table #workfromhomeproblems. And there’s more, so much more, hidden away in closets and cabinets, and back room corners. I know I don’t have to wait for a big move to face the clutter. But I often put it off because sometimes I forget how worthwhile decluttering can actually be.
It’s refreshing, really. Walking into a room where everything has it’s place and can easily be found. Where there’s some unoccupied space - space to breathe, space to sit, space to think and focus without the distraction of what still needs putting away. I don’t always prioritize a neat and tidy home, but it is still important for me to remember the relief I feel when I do take the time to declutter. Because sometimes, my life feels cluttered, too.
A couple months ago, I was reading through the Beatitudes found in Matthew 5, the beginning of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. And in Matthew 5:8, Jesus says,
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
When I initially read that beatitude, I consider the word “pure” and think of a heart that is morally clean or undefiled. A heart with good intentions. And while I do think that is part of what Jesus is communicating and certainly what we take away at first glance, I do wonder if maybe a pure heart could also be an uncluttered one.
I find that when my heart is cluttered, it’s more anxious, worried, and heavy. And more often than not, it’s correlated with how cluttered my life is. Endless to-do lists. Rushing from here to there and back again. Piles of expectations, obligations, and situations I’m not sure I have the capacity for. Yet somehow, I fit it all in. But, in doing so, I often lose sight of what is most important.
If a pure heart can see God, there must not be a whole lot blocking the view. That’s not to say an uncluttered heart is empty though. It simply means that what we keep in our hearts is arranged in a way that makes room to see how God might be working, and what God might be calling us to.
I have a hunch you are probably at least somewhat familiar with the parable of the Good Samaritan. It’s found in the gospel of Luke, chapter 10, verses 25-37. The NIV translation reads,
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” 27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” 29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ 36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
I’ve learned a lot from this parable over the years, and I probably have much to learn from it still. But when reading through it recently, I was most convicted and intrigued by the response of the priest and the Levite. Both men were probably well-respected and both probably had good and honorable items on their to-do list. In fact, when they saw the beaten man, they were probably on their way to check off one of those good, honorable things. But in doing so, they completely overlooked the opportunity, right in plain sight, to love both God and neighbor. I’m sure selfishness and avoiding discomfort played a role in their decision to walk on by, but I also wonder if maybe their hearts were too cluttered to really see.
I think their example resonates with me so much because I find myself in their shoes often. My life, my to-do list can be filled with good things. But the minute I let that schedule take priority, the minute I become unwilling to be inconvenienced for the sake of loving God and loving neighbor, is the minute I begin to do it wrong. And I know I can often do better.
If we’re going to see God through pure, uncluttered hearts, then maybe we need to create space to be inconvenienced. Maybe we need to protect the bandwidth that reveals how God is working and what God might be calling us to, instead of assuming we already know. Maybe we need to prioritize our availability to be reminders, even if it isn’t “officially” on the to-do list. And maybe we need to hold our to-do lists with a lighter grip. Maybe we need to be willing to declutter and rearrange,
so that when a friend reaches out in tears, we can be by their side.
When we’re inconvenienced, we can embrace the situation.
When a need arises, we can contribute.
When we’re interrupted, we can pay attention.
When plans change, we can adapt.
And when God calls, we can answer.
Today, may we remember to live uncluttered. When we do, we’ll have a clearer picture of who God is, how God is working, and what God might be calling us to.
Blessed are the uncluttered hearts, for they will see God.