“Some people think their lives are full, when really they’re just cluttered.” (Anonymous)

In an affluent society, it’s easy to confuse clutter with substance. 

  • That certain thing I just had to have six months ago is now buried in the recesses of a closet full of other buried treasures. 
  • That event I couldn’t decline is now just one more thing to do in a long list of to-dos. 
  • That article I needed to read two weeks ago is now bookmarked in my browser along with 250 other bookmarked articles I haven’t read. 
  • That badly needed bathroom repair has grown on me: yes, it’s hanging crooked, but it hasn’t fallen off, and nobody’s been injured. 
  • That to-die-for recipe from that cooking show will have to wait until I try that to-die-for recipe from my cooking magazine which replaced that to-die-for recipe from the new cookbook that I bought six months ago. 

Sound familiar?

I’ve just described a cluttered life. It’s a life centered on things, busyness, unrealistic goals and timelines, and endless, unfulfilling activity.

A full life is different. It’s a life centered on relationships, values, priorities, meaning, and joy. The full life puts people above things. The full life bases its priorities on a value system that’s rooted in eternal principles. The full life finds meaning in a relationship with God. The full life is full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

It’s easy to confuse clutter and fullness, but it’s also easy to confuse how we eliminate the one and find the other. De-cluttering your life isn’t primarily about closet space, organizational systems, or planners. It’s ultimately about prioritizing your relationships: your relationship to God; your relationship to family; your relationship to friends; your relationship to work; your relationship to possessions; and your relationship to time and money. When those things are in place, the clutter in life has a way of just evaporating.

Jesus once told a parable about a successful farmer who ran out of storage space for his crops (Luke 12.13-21). He decided to tear down his barns and build bigger ones. He put his trust in his prosperity and not in God. The story ends with him dying that very night. Jesus began the parable by saying “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” 

That’s the takeaway for us. Every day we should ask if our lives are full, or just cluttered?