Does your physical environment contribute to personal feelings of worth, confidence, and serenity—or subtract from them?
When I open my closet in the morning, if chaos greets me, I am forced to push past the items I don’t want to find the right outfit for the day. The blouse I need to go with my only clean pair of pants might be crammed behind a bunch of tops. Because I don’t have an extra minute to spare, I shove aside what I don’t need, or worse, yank it off the hanger, realize a spot remains on the front, and toss it on the floor to deal with later. Except ‘later’ never seems to come.
If too many tops or pants are crammed together, my frantic search makes me a sweaty, grumpy mess before I even step out of my bedroom. Closet troubles can make me late, so I might dash down the hall, and trip over the dog’s chew toy.
By the time I make it to the kitchen, there’s no time to eat.If the kids can’t find their homework and I still need to fix lunches, I’m in dangerous melt-down territory. Then I glance out the kitchen window, notice the flower bed I needed to weed last weekend and groan. This is not how mornings are supposed to begin.
We want to start our days with Jesus, and in the right frame of mind, but life is just crazy. How can we set a tone for the day that more closely aligns with our ideal? How can we let Jesus into our mornings without losing another hour of sleep? And why would Jesus care about our closets, or the dog toys in the hall, or the flower bed?
1. Your peace of mind is worth the effort.
I put off doing any chore that seems overwhelming: weeding the flower bed, getting the oil changed in my car, folding that pile of clean laundry in the corner, or cleaning out my closet. It all slides to the bottom of my to-do list. Somehow it seems as if my household chaos doesn’t really matter. Nobody but me sees it anyway, right?
While this might be true, I am important. Jesus thinks I am, and I need to agree with Him. If I don’t think my peace of mind is worth the trouble it might take to organize a closet, what does that say about my level of self-worth? What does it say about my belief in God’s love for me? And what message does it send my kids?
If you really believe God loves you and finds value in you, then act like it. Any seemingly overwhelming task is a good place to begin. The action of making your environment functional and pleasing tells your brain you believe what you say.
2. Tackling your mess helps you work on your heart.
There is a connection in our brains between actions and beliefs. When we organize our space as a statement of faith, we can begin to see the parallels between that and order in our spiritual spaces. In my book, Fashioned by God, I help make these connections with actions to take specifically in our closets and then our hearts.
Out with the Old, in with the New
One example is to take out what no longer fits or pleases. When we remove these from our closets, we have more room for the ‘keepers’: those items that work for us. This action can lead to the same inventory work in our hearts.
Sometimes we don’t want to look too closely at what’s in our hearts, just like our closets, because we’re afraid of what might be in there. Sorting through the mess in your closet can give you the confidence to check your heart condition, making room for the one thing—actually a person, Jesus Christ—that you need. If He is there, then the other problems can be solved.
Dress Evaluation and Exchange
Another positive action I recommend in my book is to consider your dresses. Take them all out of your closet. Evaluate each one and ask yourself if the length and style are flattering.
In Fashioned by God, I suggest that while considering the dresses in your closet, you think about the dress the Lord gives you. Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose again to give us eternal life. When we accept this life, he dresses us with his righteousness. Our old, ugly dresses of sin are gone. Imagine exchanging your out-of-date, too-small, unflattering dresses for a beautiful white ballgown with glittering sparkles all over it. That’s what happens to our hearts when Jesus comes in.
Consider Your Hangers and Take Action
Another item in your closet to consider is your hangers. If yours are a twisted, jumbled mess, it only adds to the chaos of disorganized clothing. It can almost seem as if the hangers plot together at night to form a web so that when you open your closet in the morning, you can’t pull out a pair of pants without a battle. We know if we would purchase proper wooden hangers for pants instead of relying on wire ones from the dry cleaners, the pants section of our closet would stay in order.
There are also things we can do to minimize the overwhelming jumble of our lives. Being intentional about our priorities, rather than passive, helps us move from being overwhelmed toward empowerment. We can take cues from the life of Jesus. He was never in a hurry and never late. He decided (probably during his private prayer time) what was most important to include in each day and did those things.
3. An orderly environment translates into a less chaotic morning and a bit more time for God.
If you don’t spend your waking moments struggling with clutter, you can more readily face the day with equanimity. Taking back even five minutes of your morning helps you fit in a devotional or short Bible reading. And wouldn’t it be lovely to wake up focused on God rather than the dread of facing your uncompleted tasks? Your house’s condition really does set the tone for your whole morning.
When your clean laundry is put away, you can find items when you need them, and probably won’t need to iron the wadded wrinkles out before wearing them.
Now you can make your favorite coffee or smoothie and sip it while reading your Bible. And gazing out of your kitchen window at lovely flowers growing in the bed where weeds used to reign can bring peaceful calm to your mind while you read.
4. Taking control of your space builds confidence—in yourself and in Jesus.
Too many times ‘victim mentality’ bleeds over from popular culture into our beliefs about ourselves. We can feel as if we have no control over what happens to us or what we do. Our hectic schedules seem to have more power over us than God. And it is easier to go with the flow than to change.
But the act of cleaning out your home is a form of taking control. And when you’re finished, you will feel empowered and confident.
The same is true of any ‘impossible’ task you face:
- If meal-prep is where you go off the rails, tackle this project first. Find recipes on-line for slow-cooker or instant pot meals that either cook while you’re working on other tasks or take a fraction of the normal time to make. You might also like mail-order meals that deliver all the ingredients to your door.
- If grocery shopping is your dreaded job, try an on-line order service from your favorite grocery store. Then simply drive through on your way home from work to pick it up. Mail-order meal delivery can also eliminate the need to shop.
Whatever you dread doing the most, make it your first organizational priority. The powerful feelings you gain from conquering that one thing will translate into your spiritual life.
Following Jesus requires a willingness to change, maybe even to do or say things that might make you nervous. But when you’re confident in Jesus’ love and plans for you, and the power of the Holy Spirit working in you, then anything is possible.
Uncluttering your space not only impacts your self-image, your schedule, and your morning outlook, it can even motivate you to follow Jesus on a new adventure. Who knew such a simple task could change your life? Jesus did, of course.
Kathryn Graves, author of Fashioned by God, is a personal style and fashion trends expert. She offers closet consults, style workshops, and personal shopping through her business with Premier Designs, Inc. As an author, speaker, and business woman, she teaches women how to dress for success. She also holds a B.A. in Psychology and desires to help women understand their God-given beauty. Kathryn is a pastor's wife, mom, and Mimi to three. She loves cats, painting with pastels, and interior design.