The Kondo Phenomenon
I can’t help but laugh at the phenomenon that Marie Kondo has become. I can’t scroll through my feed without seeing someone sharing pictures of them tackling their messy closets or some truly laugh-out-loud funny Kondoing memes. She has ignited a fire in our culture to declutter and reap the rewards of a happier life. What is it about this that is so magnetic to us?
I agree wholeheartedly with how good a purging of my junk can feel, with the removal of each ill-fitting garment and unused gadget I am freer. All this brings light to two things that are suffocating our lives - the idol of materialism and the necessity of removing our junk to rediscover joy.
Materialism isn’t a demon so easily shaken. It’s firm grips are held tightly around our desire to fit in, buying new things for the satisfaction of filling an emotional void, our slave to a commercialized society, and falling prey to envy as we constantly compare our lives with others. I can deeply identify with every single one of those, and I have a house full of junk to prove it. Strolling the isles of Target ranks high amongst my list of favorite things to do and we all know it’s impossible to leave there without a minimum $50 purchase, it’s got to be Newton’s 4th law or something. I have my credit card information saved into my phone for easier online purchases, which is a recipe for disaster. As I sit back and reflect I think, in all this buying of bright and shiny new things am I actually losing more than I’m gaining?
Jesus tells us to lose one’s life is to save it. “Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it.” Mark 8:34-35. The Bible is filled with warnings of the dangers behind materialism and where our true treasure should be found. (Matthew 6:19-21, 1 Timothy 6:7-8, Hebrews 13:5, Luke 12:15) This is not a post to condemn anyone, I am the guiltiest of all, but in all these verses the author is trying to get us to see that even though these things feel good to have, there is something even greater our hearts should desire. God wants us to live an abundant life filled with the greatest things - a house bursting full of joy, rooms decorated with compassion and love, closets stuffed full of wisdom, drawers spilling over with grace and mercy. These are the treasures He knows will make our souls richer than we could imagine. I feel like the wealthiest person alive when I reflect on the kindness my Savior has shown me and when I look around and see the tangible evidence of who He is, not in my stuff, but in the eyes of my children, in the touch of my husband, in the voice of a friend. If you are struggling with this as much as I am, there is something more valuable than anything we could ever desire, Godly wisdom. “With me are riches and honor, lasting wealth and righteousness. My fruit is better than solid gold, and my harvest than pure silver. I walk in the ways of righteousness, along the paths of justice, giving wealth as an inheritance to those who love me, and filling their treasuries.” Proverbs 8:18-21 CSB. These are the treasures I want, ones that lead me to godliness, to a life of heavenly wealth.
Our lives aren’t just filled with physical junk, but we carry so much emotional and spiritual junk around. God tells us this life is a race. Running while trying to carry all this junk is only keeping us from running a good race, and sometimes weighs us down so much that we can’t even take another step. A local pastor likened it to a mom he saw “running” with her children in a double jogger, baby on one side with all things that babies need and a toddler in the other seat with snack cups, drinks, iPad, and toys. Even though she’s determined to run, all the things are holding her back. The baby keeps crying and throwing the pacifier out so she stops to tend to that. The toddler starts throwing a fit because the iPad isn’t working and she’s dropped her snack cup...again. So, mom has to stop and take care of that. We are all a lot like that mom, so determined to run our race, but constantly being entangled by this junk.
I love how the Message paraphrases Hebrews 12:1-3
“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!”
Things like comparison, jealousy, complacency, laziness, lust, idolatry, gossip, and anger are parasitic sins that just take and take and take every good thing from us. They cling to us and keep us from running our race, continually robbing us of the joy promised to us. I’ve run the Bataan Memorial Death March marathon. I carried nothing with me, but the military runners I raced beside were geared up in their full fatigues and a 50 pound rucksack, carried in honor of the soldiers who endured the Bataan death march in World War II. These were trained men and women who ran this race with precision. Their sacks weren’t filled with junk, but carefully packed with essentials needed to fight. I want to run this race of life only with the essentials packed - the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit, wisdom and the gospel of peace on my feet. Ephesians 6:13-17. When we clear out the bad it leaves more room for the good. As we grumble less, we can praise more. As we get rid of jealousy, we can enjoy authentic friendships. As we throw out laziness, we can humbly enjoy our work. As we trash our anger, we can live in peace. We will never run out of room in our hearts for the joys of the Lord.
This is how we restore joy in our homes. We declutter our lives of the sinful junk and embrace being content with the wonderful things we already have. Marie Kondo got a few things right, trashing the junk in our lives is incredibly freeing and sparks a whole lot of joy.