If your garage, attic, basement or whole house is packed with stuff, there is no room for anything else. Your life is like that too. You can't get a better job, earn more money, pursue your dreams or find your ideal mate if you can't jam anything more into your life with a shoehorn and six pounds of grease!
If you feel like you are suffocating in your life, there's probably junk in your life that:
- isn't working quite right
- is broken and needs repair
- is damaged beyond repair or not worth repairing
- is missing essential parts
- doesn't fit anymore because things changed with you
- didn't fit in the first place because a different you tried to be someone you're not
- is there because you don’t know what to do with it
Face it, you are being squeezed on all sides by people and things that aren't working for you.
Are there people in your life who make you crazy but since they aren't “that bad" you stay friends? Are you hanging on to your job because it's comfortable even though it really doesn't suit you? Are you in your current relationship because it's “too much trouble" to get out or find a new mate? Are you doing the exact same thing every day because you don't know what else to do?
If you said yes to any of those questions, your life has “junk" people and things that need to go. Junk relationships, junk jobs and junk complacency makes it difficult to do new things.
You have to clean out your life just like you would your garage. This isn't just a spiritual or emotional cleansing, but actually includes getting rid of physical stuff in your life too.
A cluttered physical space is a sign of a confused inner life too. Clutter creates more work for us. It hides important things under mounds of unimportant things. It makes it hard to focus on important goals. It makes us see things as more overwhelming than they really are. We waste valuable time hunting for things we already have but can't find.
Our life becomes just like our garage. Too many scheduled activities, too many people demanding our attention, too many tasks that drain our energy and keep us from having time to pursue our dream or passion.
Say you go to the garage to find your winter sweaters. They are always in the box that is the hardest to get to. So you sigh deeply and begin to pull out all the boxes, broken sports equipment and other who-knows-what-this-is stuff that is blocking the box. By the time you get to the box and wrestle it out you are really tired and don't feel like putting back all the other junk. Why bother, you think, I'll just have to put the box back in there in three or four months.
So the garage becomes more cluttered and more difficult to navigate the next time you need to find something. This happens to your life too.
Helen worked a full-time job and two part-time jobs trying to keep up with her bills. Every month she found herself more worn out and just as far from getting out of debt as when she started. She was stuck in a rut of working and rushing to the next job. Her dream of being a songwriter got further and further away. Her original plan had been to work a job that was flexible so she would have time to pursue her music. She hadn't wanted to be tied to one full-time job, much less three jobs. But she couldn't make ends meet so she took the second job and then a third. Eventually Helen realized her life was about making money to pay her bills. Songwriting was a distant dream, further away than ever. She hadn't picked up her guitar in four years, much less written a note. She was too worn out from her day to day existence.
After a fearless assessment of what was important to her, Helen traded her car with its $450 payment for a 10-year old car she paid cash for. She sold her townhouse and moved to a studio apartment. She sold all her furniture except her bed, a dresser and a dinette set. She stopped eating out and limited her socializing to one night a week. Her expenses dropped from $3,600 a month to $700. She quit her full-time job. Eleven months after her radical lifestyle change, Helen is debt-free and just sold two songs to a major recording studio. Helen cleared the “junk" from her life when she realized what really mattered to her happiness.
If you're honest, you know most of the stuff in your life could see the inside of a trash can and you'd never miss it, but you hold on to it. Why?
It isn't about being prepared. You aren't prepared if you can't find what you need when you need it. It isn't about being thrifty or saving money. If that were true, you'd be using your junk to get your money's worth out of it. You don't save money by buying something you don't use. It isn't about your junk still being useable, because if that were true you would still be using or you would have donated it to someone who could use it.
It's about control. The tighter you hold on to something, the more you lose control over it. Your things actually start controlling you. This is true in relationships as well. The more you try to do for others, the less control you have over yourself. And the more those tasks and expectations control you, the more you resent the people you were trying to please in the first place. Soon you have no time for anything while the people you are taking care of are out living their dreams. Learn to let things go and stop worrying about it being done right – they won’t even notice.
The Bible says that if you try to store your treasures (your stuff) here on earth, you won't get any treasure in heaven. By trying to keep everything close to you, you send a loud message to God that you don't trust him to provide for you. God can't add things to a cluttered physical, emotional or spiritual life. You have to get rid of what doesn't work to get something better.
You can begin to clear physical clutter from your life today. Start small. Clean out one drawer. Throw out pens that don't write, bent paper clips, rubber bands that are stretched out, etc. Make a habit of tossing two or three things out for every one thing you bring in until you are clutter-free.
You will be shocked at the rewards that follow when you clear the clutter. You will never want to accumulate things (or junk people) again. Old stuff has to go to make room for new stuff. The bigger the space you clear for God to work in, the bigger the rewards he can bring you.
If you want a great new job or a fabulous new relationship, sell, donate or throw out everything you don't totally love or use every day. You will feel freer and less encumbered. Your new energy and lighter spirit will draw new and exciting opportunities to you. You may even find that you like the new you.
Kathryn Lehan is the author of “Save Yourself! The Plain Truth", a primer for anyone interested in learning more about God. Ms. Lehan answers difficult questions we all have in plain language with a minimum of Bible quotes so that you can “get" the truth about God. Please visit her website at: http://www.encouragingoutbursts.com/Save_Yourself_The_Plain_Truth.html to read an excerpt from her book.