Tidying Up: Your Heart and Your Marriage, too!
Have you been bitten by the Marie Kondo bug? The signs are easy enough to spot. If you have spent hours, days and/or weeks sorting through closets and drawers assessing the “joy” factor you find in each belonging, you’ve most likely been bitten. If you know the people at the local clothing bank on a first name basis, you may also be infected by the tidy way of life. If you are painfully aware that in Marie’s world you are a closet hoarder, then it is definite! You have become victim to the newest Netflix show – “Tidying Up” with Marie Kondo.
This is not a bad thing.
I actually love her and have binge watched Season 1; admiring her sweet spirit and cleaning skills!
I’m naturally a rather tidy person, but I have been challenged by Marie’s tidying-up approach. All of us need a reminder to look at our stuff and decide what is pleasing and what is excess. I think the thing I most appreciate about Marie’s tidying method is that there is a Biblical truth in what she is teaching to millions of Americans. Now I am not talking about her thanking the house. That’s plain ol’ silly. The truth that I am referring to is Marie’s basic premise that things are only tidy if they are put in order from the bottom up. No glossing over. No short cuts. No covering up the mess. And, no more excuses. This message is divine.
As believers, we cannot ignore our own dirty places packed with stuff that we no longer need. Instead, we must sort out our hearts and our marriages through the power of the Holy Spirit. We must spend as much time keeping our hearts as clean and as tidy as the rooms of our house! May it never be said of us that we are like the Pharisees who clean the outer parts of their lives and continue to live a life of secret sin.
In the gospel of Matthew, when Jesus is warning the crowds and his disciples about hypocrisy, he basically warns against living an untidy life:
“Woe to you, [self-righteous] scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of extortion and robbery and self-indulgence (unrestrained greed). You [spiritually] blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the plate [examine and change your inner self to conform to God’s precepts], so that the outside [your public life and deeds] may be clean also. “Woe to you, [self-righteous] scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which look beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean (Matthew 23:25-27 AMP).”
We must all periodically take inventory of the closets in our hearts. We must ask ourselves, “Is there any love of excess or greed within?” Believers who feel freedom to indulge need to re-examine their hearts. Has the love of craft beer or products of the latest vineyard taken up too much territory in your heart? Moderation is the key! All things done in moderation is a God rule of thumb; not just a good one. Apply this rule to what you eat and drink, and to the things you buy. The fact that I recently bagged up and donated 23 turtlenecks … yes, 23 … is no more out of balance than the fact that I love gourmet food and can spend $200 at a good wine & cheese store without blinking an eye. Both actions say that I have made my outer appearance and my tummy my God. Well, considering that it was turtlenecks, for heaven’s sake, it may have less to do with vanity and more to do with laziness. I should have pitched them decades ago! But I digress. My point is that the cleanliness of my heart must be as important as the tidy state of my closet.
In keeping true with the Marie approach, bring everything out of the closet. Then pick up and sort each item. Marie says that you should ask yourself if you feel “joy” when you hold the item. “Gift” those items that don’t bring you joy, and neatly fold and put pack in the drawer those items that bring you happiness 😊.
In your heart, make a list of all the things you love. Then ask yourself if each item brings glory to God or brings Him JOY. Next, neatly delete the items that you see are not conducive to your growth in Christ or are simply too heavy to carry as you chase after Him!
Change your “inner self to conform to God’s precepts.” Heed the words of Christ and make sure your heart is not full of lust and greed. Carefully fold the God-honoring parts so that they are easily accessible to the world. I love the way Marie folds clothes. Because of her help, I can now see everything I own – no secrets! May that be said of my heart too 😊!
This is a marriage blog, so you know where this is headed. Put the tidy test to your marriage – your covenant relationship with God and your spouse. Start by using the measuring stick of time. How do you spend time together as a couple each week? Consider an average day. Decide how many minutes you and your spouse spend together in that average day engaged in a purposeful activity. Then multiply that number by 7. I will bet, based on discussions I have had with couples over many years, that your number is around 15 hours a week. It may be less if you are in the midst of the crazy child-raising years. Now, of that time, how much of it do you spend actively pursuing Christ, through study of His word, praying together or in joint ministry?
With an understanding of the amount of time you and your spouse spend together pursuing Christ you can “clean the inside of the cup and of the plate.” This is your starting point for unpacking the busyness of life. Next you can decide what is most important (What My Life Says Is Most Important). Sadly, I routinely meet couples whose marriages look “brilliant” from the outside, but on the inside are “full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.” They are living in sin; hindered by the weight of unforgiveness. Often they are content to boast about their hollow marriage and just “rock on,” but when something crashes in their life and all is exposed, they cry out and seek help.
I am in no position to judge. I know how easy it is to “fake it,” to clean only the rooms that people may see and to push all the “garbage” to room that visitors never see. There was a 14-month period in my marriage that was eat up with ugly (The Ugly Year), and no one else knew it. We smiled in public, Jody opened doors for me and I made him dinner. But inside our home, it was as quiet as a tomb. I have a vivid memory of our church pastor popping by for a quick and unannounced visit one Saturday afternoon. Jody and I had not spoken to each other all day, save a “move over” or “your turn to change the baby.” But when our pastor came in and sat on our couch, we put on faces painted with happiness – our very own beautiful looking “white-washed tombs.” The minister was none the wiser, and we were none the happier when he left. I have often pondered what would have happened if we had tipped our hand and allowed this caring pastor to know us. If we had let him know of the battle raging in our marriage, things could have been different. I believe that this man of God would have ushered us into the presence of our Father and that we would have repented and forgiven each other months earlier than we did; ending our long private war.
God wants us to spend time tidying up our marriages. His plan is for this relationship to reflect the gospel; for His glory! To do that, we have to take a long, hard look at our marriages and then start getting rid of the junk. Yep, I said junk. Marie is too sweet for that word. She will hold what the rest of the world calls, “yuck” and with a straight face politely ask its owner, “Does this bring you joy?” I’m not that sweet, and friends … “ain’t nobody got time for that 😊!”
I truly believe God wants to use your marriage and mine to draw others to Him today. But He can’t do this with a bunch of white-washed marriages. He requires us to make our marriages our priority; He expects us to obediently ask His Spirit to shine His light on the parts that need tidying up. And with heaps of our repentance, He will extend heaps of His forgiveness! This may mean that you have to put down the TV remote, the golf clubs or the beer mug and pray with your spouse. You may need to find a mature couple in your church and ask them to spend some time with you “sorting out your stuff.” But please, please don’t disregard this message. Don’t simply white-wash over the mess, allow God to thoroughly cleanse your hearts and marriage! He is willing and able!
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things in earth.
Ephesians 1:7-10 (ESV)
As always, thank you for reading WordWashedWife. It is my privilege and honor to spend this time with you each week, and it gives me great JOY! So in keeping with Marie Kondo’s advice, “I’m keeping every one of you 😊!”
“You are the light of the world.
A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket,
but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before others,
so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Matthew 5: 14-16