Have you read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo? It’s certainly an interesting read on organization and decluttering. The basic premise is to purge your house of everything that doesn’t bring you joy in one giant burst of energy and then to keep it clean for the rest of your life.
Okay, I’m probably misquoting and am obviously biased. It really is an interesting book with some good methods, and you should probably read it for yourself.
I recently saw this interesting article by Ruth Whippman about the konmarie method and it brought the book and my ever-evolving philosophy on housekeeping back to the forefront of my mind. I listened to the audiobook about a year ago and ended up feeling a little bit depressed about what it would take for me to be a clean and organized person. I immediately knew that the Konmarie method wasn’t for me. I will never be the woman with a perfectly organized, clutter free house. First of all, I tend to rebel against rules, even my own. Second of all, I’m usually too preoccupied with what’s going on inside my head to care too much if all my clothes are put away and the counters are cleared off. It’s just not me, and it probably never will be. I’m beginning to realize it has a lot to do with my personality type (INTP ftw!).
There were some things in the book that I found helpful as a general guideline as a opposed to a rule to live by, though, such as the question, “Does this spark joy?” It’s easy for me to hold on to things because of sentiment or obligation (“my best friend bought it for me, I can’t throw it away or she’ll notice!”). But when I have so much stuff that preoccupies my mind and energy, it becomes an obstacle instead of a tool. I see decluttering and having a clean(ish) home as a means to an end. If I get rid of more stuff, I have to spend less time on stuff, and then I can think about more important things.
But as I read the article by Ruth Whippman it occurred to me that there is spiritual significance in this hyper-organized, ‘find joy in housekeeping’ trend going on. I believe women were made to be homemakers. We’re supposed to care about hospitality and creating a safe space for rest and growth. That’s why, even after the feminist movement, we just can’t escape the deep knowing that there is satisfaction in taking care of our homes. There is significance in the every day. We see this in the lifetime of the Proverbs 31 woman and in the instructions for the older women to teach the younger women in Titus 2.
But we also need to remember that, despite the fact that there is spiritual significance and explanation in homemaking, it is not our end-all, be-all. The cleanliness, size, decorations, organization, joy-sparking things in our house is not what gives us meaning as women. What gives us meaning is when we use our resources to create a home for our people to glorify God. This definition of homemaking brings glory to God because it involves using what He’s given us in the way we were meant to use it. Creating a home involves creating an enviornment for our people to feel safe and comfortable emotionally, physically, and spiritually. There is so much beauty, so much purpose in that definition of homemaking. It transcends relationship status and house size and number of children and decorating skills.
And one of the best parts is that this kind of home environment can be made even when there are dishes in the sink and unfolded laundry on the couch and too many leftovers in the fridge.
So when my stuff is getting in the way of my life or making my home feel more like a burden than a retreat, I’ll ask myself if certain things are sparking joy and get rid of a lot of stuff. I’ll clean and organize when I can and when I really need to, like if my couch has so many unfolded clothes on it that no one can sit there and feel safe. But for the most part, I’m not going to sweat it. I want my eyes on the deeper, more eternal things, and a physical house can never be that.