Lent: The Holy Spirit and Marie Kondo

February 21, 2021

A couple of years ago, while I was visiting one of my children, we watched the Netflix show, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.”  It was all about people living in chaotic conditions with absolutely no idea how to bring order to their lives.  

Folks had closets full of shoes and clothes, some of the items still had tags on them. 

Mounds of papers were all over their homes – some ‘documents’ were no more than fast food receipts from years gone by! 

Kitchen counters were rendered unusable by the weight of broken or never used appliances.

So many folks riding the crazy train of chaos…..unsure how to get to a destination of calm and order in their own homes, choosing instead to just shut the doors; after all out of sight out of mind, right?  But is it?  As the junk took up more room, the living space was reduced to the bare minimum. 

Such home nightmares created not only physical chaos, but relational chaos, financial chaos – and the individuals hated to even go home!  Yet, changing things seemed overwhelming – so they were stuck until……

Enter Marie Kondo, the lovely, joy-filled organizing consultant from Japan with her gentle, non-judgmental and quietly firm ways!

Kondo came to bring order to chaos, life in all its joy to overwhelming despair in the face of clutter.  How?  By tackling one room at a time and teaching folks to let go of anything and everything that wasn’t life giving.  No hiding stuff in closets; anything that didn’t meet the criteria of life-giving joy was put in black plastic bags and taken away, never to be seen again!

The transformations that took place were phenomenal and apparently lasting. When the show revisited the newly decluttered homes six months out, all was still orderly and joyful! Sure, there might have been some temporary setbacks but not for long.  

The lifestyle Kondo had taught the people she worked was consistently reclaimed. Her teachings had become a part of who they were – a part of the life they wanted; no going back to the past chaos – always looking forward in hope to an ordered future!

I loved this show. I couldn’t wait to get home and start asking myself the ‘Kondo questions:’ What brings me joy?  What is a burden?  What has no purpose?  What is holding me back from living life in its fullest?  

Asking such questions and living into the answers is a lifelong – but it is amazing how many things have been set to rights because I am engaging in the process! 

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As I enter this season of Lent, I am brought back to Kondo and her ordering of so many houses.

And I wonder….

Where is a Marie Kondo teacher for the spiritual clutter and chaos in my life?  

I need Someone because, by myself, the condition of my spiritual house is too overwhelming!

Then I realized this Someone has been there all along – waiting to be invited – waiting to gently, non-judgmentally, yet with firm loving kindness get my spiritual house in order.  The Holy Spirit is the One great Teacher (John 14:16-17): the One waiting to work with us and within us to help us let go of those things which are not of God, in order to make room for more of God in our lives; the One waiting to collaborate with us in the spiritual transformation of our lives (our spiritual homes) into what we were intended to be since the moment of our creation. (Jeremiah 29:11)

And Lent is the perfect time to invite the Holy Spirit to teach us how to live uncluttered lives. 

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Lent is notably the period of time when we decide to give up something for 40 days; yet on Day 41, we reclaim whatever it was that we ‘gave up!’ Nothing about our lives has changed – we just closed the door on clutter for a while!

If this is all that Lent is about, what’s the point?  Lent seems to be no more than a self-righteous show. Instead of preparing our spiritual houses of ‘non-God centered junk’ so that we might receive more of the risen Christ in our lives and live more completely for Him (after all, Easter is about new life, not reclaiming the old), we are just playing spiritual games.

So what if we try something different this year?  

No more pious games, but rather, a life changing reality experience!  

What if…..

we invited the Holy Spirit into our spiritual lives to make an honest assessment of where chaos, discord, and ‘not God junk’ fill our lives, and then begin tidying up – one room at a time.  

Why only one room at a time?  Because anything else is overwhelmingly self-defeating and spirals us down into a place of self-condemnation as spiritual failures.  

Lasting change is slow – junk was slow coming into our lives, it will necessarily be slow leaving if we are to experience lasting change: we must reflect on the place the stuff has had in our lives and then let it go – no takes back!

So I’m getting started.

There are so many cluttered rooms – but I can at least begin tackling time one very small room: the room of playing online games that fill my idle time.  What a cluttering of God’s precious time appointed for my life! 

The Holy Spirit has gently, non-judgmentally yet firmly let me know I could be actively being present and praying for the Spirit’s leading if I would just let go of the junk!  I say I want to live for God but it’s hard to see past all the clutter!

So I deleted the games.  

Sounds simple, but it’s hard not to reload them – after all, they temptingly sit in the Cloud!  

Still…what brings me joy?  At the end of my life will I find joy as an expert in Suduko or by scoring in the thousands at Wordgames?  

Or is joy found in knowing that I made more space for my life in God?  

As I clear out this ‘room,’ I will continue to assess and act – not without a few setbacks I’m sure, but with each room, comes more joy!

So…..

How does the Holy Spirit assess your need for tidying up your spiritual house? 

Can you let stuff go, one room at a time?  No takes back?  Just wondering…..

And to God be the glory!  AMEN.

Next week – Lent:  The Holy Spirit and Mary Poppins – 

Published by Pastor Catharine

Retired ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. I have a Master's of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry (with an emphasis on Spiritual Transformation of Community) from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

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