Does it Spark Joy? Decluttering Your Soul and Finding Joy
Marie Kondo has a mission to spark joy in the world through cleaning. Her method of decluttering focuses on keeping things that bring joy and saying “thank you” to things that don’t. Not only is she helping people clean their houses, but she also wants them to know what is truly important—people begin to examine their lives, gain perspective, and let go of the things that control them.
Decluttering our homes brings greater joy and freedom. But what might happen if we gave time and energy to declutter our souls?
John 15 talks about making a home with Jesus, letting him make a home in us. Branches that don’t bear fruit are cut off, and branches that bear fruit get pruned to bear more fruit. God’s desire is for us to receive his life and love and let him flow through us. As we abide in him and love others, we experience his joy.
Are you willing to declutter your soul? When we participate with God in the deep work of decluttering our souls, we experience joy, and he reveals things to us. This is an ongoing, life-long process. It is important to disengage from our outer-world and find a quiet place with God, asking him to show us what is happening in our inner-life. The Holy Spirit in the context of healthy Christian community helps us discover habits and patterns in our lives that clutter our soul and block us from making our home with God, loving others, and experiencing his joy.
Is there a branch that needs to be cut off?
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what is robbing you of joy in your life. It’s easier to go through the motions, follow routines, and not be connected to Jesus, our vine. But we will lack love and joy. God wants to reveal deeper ways for us to be connected to him.
Unforgiveness towards others or towards ourselves clutters our soul because forgiveness is central to the gospel. If we’re replaying scenarios over in our mind, we need to let go and bring that to God, asking him for forgiveness and redemption. There may be someone you need to forgive, rather than letting bitterness overtake your life. Once when I was in a big conflict, a wise friend told me the drama would stop if I let go of being right, and it did. Certain patterns or attitudes clutter our soul and keep us from loving others well. We often need deeper healing and freedom from hurt, pain, unhealed wounds, or broken relationships. God wants us to welcome his presence into our sorrow and pain, and he will heal and set us free.
Idolatry and addiction also clutter our souls. There may be something or someone in our lives that we love more than God, and this hinders us from truly making our home with God. Idolatry or addiction to alcohol, drugs, sex, technology, media, entertainment, people pleasing, work, or food will clutter our souls. An important question we can ask God is why we are running to those things, and he will reveal to us what we’re really seeking and how he wants to be that source. Also seek help also from friends, pastors, counselors, or spiritual directors.
Is there a branch that needs pruning?
As you take time with God to examine your life, is there anything that needs pruning? Are there changes you need to make in how you spend your time? God commands us to take a weekly Sabbath and invites us to spend quality time with him daily. When we prune things to help us do this, our work and relationships will be more fruitful.
Our lives can be overtaken by phones, computers, or televisions, and it takes a conscious choice to be present. I can easily spend more time than I need to on emails, social media, or texts. Instead, I need to prune back on those things to spend more of my day connecting to Jesus and not being distracted by my phone in my relationships.
As Jesus promises, relationships and loving others brings us joy. But should we stop relating to anyone that doesn’t spark joy for us? Sometimes we go through difficult seasons in our friendships and need to overcome challenges. God can still fill us with joy as we choose to love, whether or not we get the response we hope for. And at other times, God may lead us to make boundaries in relationships.
It’s easy to lose connection to our purpose, calling, and priorities God has given us. It’s tempting to just do what others expect of us instead. Sometimes, we need to let go of people pleasing and do what will bring us life. We may need to prune things that are good but not the best for us. There may be things in our schedule that we need to change so that we can be more fruitful.
Making a home with Jesus
Detaching and letting go of sin, anxiety, distractions, pride, hurts, false gods, and anything that clutters our soul frees us to experience more of God’s joy and presence. God, the Father, Son, and Spirit wants to fill us with abundant love and joy. And we will become more fruitful as his love and joy overflows to others. This is a life-long process, but as we come to God and others for help decluttering our souls, we will find a loving, satisfying home with God and he with us.
Brenda has spent over 41 years leading, discipling, and developing InterVarsity students and staff in San Francisco and Hawai`i. You can support her ministry at https://donate.intervarsity.org/donate#17.