31 Days · Faith · Real Christianity

Clearing Out Heart Clutter Part 1

clearingheartclutterIt’s Day 4 of the Write 31 Challenge, and I’m just now writing my second post. Prior to my heart work journey, I would have beat myself up over this. But one of the steps of heart healing is to give yourself grace.

Perfectionism is one of my biggest struggles. I think it came from living in a lively house when I was growing up. Lots of people. Lots of noise. Lots of dishes. Lots of laundry. Lots of clutter.

I’m naturally orderly. I don’t like messes. I don’t like noise. I don’t like dealing with lots of people at once. My mom said that I used to get very upset when my hands were dirty as a toddler. I’d cry to wash them.

But you want to know a dirty little secret? My room was always a mess. I’m talking piles of laundry. Piles of papers and books. Stuff under the bed. Stuff all over the closet. I could get the room “presentable” by hiding everything under something.

And that’s a good metaphor for heart clutter. I have a tendency to tick off the required accomplishments first. Get done what needs to be done. And leave the mess for later.

This is a good short-term strategy. But when we make it a habit, it makes the clutter almost insurmountable. It’s hard to know where to start. And when you do start clearing out the clutter, you don’t see much progress.

I remember spending all day cleaning my room and not achieving much.

And you know what? The reason is that I got sidetracked by the clutter.

I’d pull out all of my clothes and want to try them all on. That’s not a good strategy for an easily distractible person. I’d start putting outfits together. I’d look at clothes and say “Hmm, I could wear that if I did this sewing fix to it…”

The reality is that I wasn’t going to do the sewing fix. I held onto things that didn’t fit and didn’t make me feel confident.

I’m still a little bit like that. I see the potential of ideas, clothing, people and I get caught up in the possibility. But sometimes that idea is a good one but not a good one right now. Sometimes that clothing is cute, but not a great fit for me. Sometimes that person who has a need strikes a cord in my heart, but I’m not right messenger.

So, what’s a better strategy for dealing with heart clutter?

Getting in the habit of dealing with it regularly. I’ll deal with the big pile of clutter in a second.

But first I want to share my strategy for regular decluttering. Prayer journaling has helped me tremendously.

I started a prayer journal and the perfectionist in me says it’s not good enough. But it is good enough. I may make a few changes to it soon, but we’re concerned with progress not perfection.

I encourage you to just start somewhere with the heart decluttering process. Here’s my simple setup:

A three-ring binder with about 10 different dividers. The thought behind this is to keep my thoughts organized. It helps to have a focus in prayers. And I’ll tell you, I do a pretty good job of focusing with this system. I don’t love it because I like a spiral notebook much better. However, I can’t find one with enough dividers. But again, progress, not perfection.

Clarity is what clears heart clutter. The point of this binder writing down what’s on my heart helps me clear out my heart clutter. Then I can process it. I can see what I can change, what I can’t change, what I need to give up, what I need to work on and what truth I need to rest in.

When the pile of heart clutter is high…

We’re all human and have a tendency to slip when life gets busy. I know I go through seasons where I just can’t seem to get alone to deal with my clutter. And it makes me antsy.

I’ve learned that it’s in my best interest and my family’s best interest for me to get alone with my clutter sooner than later, even if it means a late night or early morning. God will sustain you if you seek Him. I’d rather yawn through a day than bark at my children because my heart is not in the right place.

Sometimes I can’t find a starting point, so I start with a review of a past prayer (I use a headline to label my letters to the Lord) to see where I’ve progressed or to see an answered prayer. This sometimes helps me deal with the clutter right away or it gives me a clear place to start.

Sometimes I just write down a Psalm (23, 27, 46, 51, 86, 91, 119, 139) and personalize it. This is often just what I need to refocus and refresh my heart. Just being reminded that you are His and He is yours is so comforting.

I also have a series of books on prayer by Stormie O’Martian. Her Power of a Praying Wife, Power of a Praying Woman and Power of a Praying Parent are gamechangers in your prayer life. I love to use the books of prayers as prayer prompts. They are especially helpful when your burden is about someone else.

Tomorrow, I’ll share a look at my prayer journal and how it’s organized in a little more detail.

My question for you today is…Are you ready to start clearing out the clutter? Are excuses holding you back? What’s one thing you can do today to start clearing and start healing? It could start with a simple notebook.

Today’s Heart Work Truth: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” (Psalm 51:10-12 NIV)

 

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