When was the last time you de-cluttered your heart?

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If you were to visit my house on a Wednesday morning for a coffee date, you might find yourself thinking, “Gosh, this girl has got it together! The house is spotless, the floors are clean, the coffee is hot, and…seriously…she’s pulling freshly baked scones from the oven?”

But if you were to take a moment to look beneath the surface, you would find that my life is not as neat and tidy as it seems.

 

Though I diligently work to keep my house in order, I often fail to recognize how much clutter I have allowed to accumulate in my heart.

 

A cluttered heart is far worse than a cluttered home because it is so very simple to stuff junk in the closet of your heart, slam the door, and never open it again.

This article is for anyone who, like me, has some serious de-cluttering to do on a heart level!

 

Heart-clutter could be the pile of unsorted emotions in the doorway, or maybe it’s the load of unforgiveness you’ve had to run through the wash cycle three times because you never got around to moving it to the dryer.

Heart-clutter sneaks up on us when we least expect it, like an undiagnosed disease slowly wrecking havoc on our body.

 

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Yes, I am convinced heart-clutter is a form of cancer.

If it is diagnosed and treated in the early stages, the odds of survival and a full recovery are quite high.

However, if it is left unchecked for too long, it will slowly take over every aspect of our life and destroy us completely.

 

It’s time for us to get proactive in our approach to heart-clutter before our condition becomes critical.

 

And, just like any other  cancer, it does no good to eliminate only a portion of the clutter.

We must cut every last bit of it out of our hearts!

 

 

I am weary from focusing my energy on cleanliness rather than character, dust rather than destiny, and feeding my family rather than nourishing my soul!

It is time for me to relinquish it all into the hands of the One who is gently whispering to my soul, ” The condition of your heart is far more important than the cleanliness of your home.”

 

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Have you allowed clutter to creep into your heart?

Do you feel overwhelmed, desperately in need of professional organizer to come in and hold you by the hand as you toss out all the junk?

 

Oh, how I wish I could be that person for you!

 

My girls and I just finished watching the first season of “Fixer Uppers” on HGTV.

The show features this adorable husband and wife duo who tackle these amazing home renovation projects for their clients.

They take the most unloved, beat up, and hopeless properties and transform them into immaculate show houses.

If only I could come in and fix up your heart the way that Chip and Joanna Gaines fix up houses!

But the truth is, there is only One person who has the power to orchestrate the renovation of people’s hearts.

 

 

Yes, Jesus Christ is the ultimate heart fixer upper!

 

He is the cure for my cluttered heart, and for yours…if you invite him in.

 

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This post contains affiliate links to products I think are awesome. This means, if you make a purchase I may make a small commission off your purchase, with no additional cost to you.  Read my Full Disclosure at Grounded&Surounded.

 

As I have dedicated more time and energy to studying my Bible and caring for my heart in recent weeks, God has shown me the three most deadly forms of heart-clutter.

 

Problem # 1 – Inadequate Personal Boundaries

 

Establishing clear spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional boundaries is the first step towards a clutter-free heart.

 

 

They give us a sense of ownership over our own heart and empower us to create healthful relationships.

Healthy boundaries are the framework by which we determine our own personal responses to conflict and to opportunity.

They equip us to say no to the unnecessary so we are free to say yes to the eternal.

One of the most life-changing books I have ever read is Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.

It’s one of those books I recommend every Christian read at least once in their lifetime, and I find myself drawn back into the pages of my own copy every year or two.

 

Here is one of my favorite quotes from the book:

“When we begin to set boundaries with people we love, a really hard thing happens: they hurt. They may feel a hole where you used to plug up their aloneness, their disorganization, or their financial irresponsibility. Whatever it is, they will feel a loss. If you love them, this will be difficult for you to watch. But, when you are dealing with someone who is hurting, remember that your boundaries are both necessary for you and helpful for them. If you have been enabling them to be irresponsible, your limit setting may nudge them toward responsibility.”

 

Whenever my heart feels cluttered, the first thing I do is check my personal boundaries to make certain no fences are broken or in need of repair.

 

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Problem #2 – Prioritizing the External over the Internal

 

Our hearts become cluttered when external demands take precedence over our internal need for self-care.

If we neglect our inner-self long enough, we will eventually collapse under the weight of the external pressures of this world.

No matter how selfish it feels, we absolutely must care for ourselves if we desire to be strong enough to care for others.

The only way to truly nourish our heart is to spend time with the One who created it.

God’s truth has a way of directing us away from busyness and towards simplicity.

 

 

Understanding and applying this transformative truth is a crucial step of the de-cluttering process.

I am wildly untrustworthy with a highlighter, and there is not a book that I own with more markings in it than my treasured copy of  Ordering your Private World by Gordon MacDonald.

 

The premise of the book is summed up in these two sentences:

Tempted to give imbalanced attention to the public world at the expense of the private, we become involved in more programs, more meetings. Our massive responsibilities at home, work, and church have resulted in a lot of good people on the verge of collapse.

 

We have got to stop prioritizing the external over the internal because the consequences could be catastrophic!

 

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Problem #3 – Chronic Un-Forgiveness

 

Nothing has the ability to clutter our heart like unforgivingness, it simply must go!

If we allow it to reside in our bodies for too long, it will destroy us.

Forgiving the unforgivable is a hard thing to do.

Some would say it is impossible.

But I choose to hold fast to the words of Jesus when he stated, “Everything is possible for one who believes” (Mark 9:23).

 

 

If you struggle with the area of forgiveness, I encourage you to purchase a copy of Joyce Meyer’s book, Do Yourself a Favor…Forgive. 

Whether you like Joyce Meyer or not, the lady has first-hand experience of the consequences of living with unforgiveness in your heart.

She has learned the value of forgiveness and offers so much insight and encouragement in this book.

Forgiveness is a choice we must make, and continue to make every moment of every day if we want to have a clutter-free heart!

 

Heart-clutter sneaks up on us when we least expect it, like an undiagnosed disease slowly wrecking havoc on our body. Have you de-cluttered your heart lately? Here are 3 tips to get you started! By Sarah Koontz

 

I can’t say I’ve successfully cleared all the clutter from my heart, but after applying the principles I just shared with you, I feel like I am well on my way.

 

 

Yes, I think I am finally ready to give up ordinary and make room for extraordinary.

I’m excited to have all that clutter cleared out so there’s more room for the things I really want in my heart…like love, compassion, and patience!

I need room for lots and lots of patience.

I hope this article has empowered you to join me in the challenging task of cleaning out all that yucky heart-clutter.

 

It is always my prayer that the articles I write are just the beginning of a beautiful conversation.

 

Please, if you have any wisdom to share or questions to ask, I hope you feel safe sharing your thoughts with me in the comments.

I always do my best to respond to each and every comment readers leave on my blog, and I cherish our conversations.

I consider you a friend, and even if we can’t have a literal coffee date, I treasure the time we spend together here in my virtual living room.

Oh, but next time you swing by, maybe you could bring the scones?

 

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I want to give a huge virtual hug to my blogging friend Horace from Pleasing to the Potter.  His article entitled, “Do you really want God cleaning out the clutter?” was the inspiration for this post.  I also enjoyed incorporating Suzie Eller’s #livefreeThursday prompt “I Give Up” into this article.  I have shared this post at many of my favorite Faith & Family Linkups.  Photography from Dollar Photo Club.

Sarah Koontz

About Sarah Koontz

 
Sarah Koontz invites Christians of all ages to explore the beauty of God’s design. She is a passionate storyteller who enjoys using illustrations to communicate deep spiritual truths. Sarah lives on 13-acres in South Dakota with her husband, two daughters and a rowdy flock of 30 chickens. She revels in their simple, uncluttered life.

Follow Sarah on FacebookInstagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

Read Sarah’s full Bio Here.

55 thoughts on “When was the last time you de-cluttered your heart?

  1. I would love to bring the scones! Even thought we haven’t know each other very long; our souls are very similar. We read the some of the same books and are inspired to go deep with God.

    My challenge is sadly, with chronic un-forgivness; especially with my husband. How sad is that! I have been reading Brene’ Browns book, Rising Strong and it she talks about getting curious about why we behave in certain ways.

    So my prayer today is to ask God to show me and help me discover why I hold on to things with my husband. In my head I know the “right” answer, but I am really asking God from a tender, curious place.

    Thanks for the encouragement!

    1. Oh, scones with Laura….that’ sounds like a nice treat! Of course, gluten free scones can be a bit tricky…but that’s another conversation for another day (darn food allergies!).

      Several thoughts came to mind when I read your comment, but the overwhelming feeling was gratitude. I know it is not easy to reveal a piece of yourself that is oh so tempting to hide, but you did it!

      That tells me that you are growing, my dear, and you are truly seeking God in this area with an open heart…waiting to receive His guidance and instruction.

      I have all the confidence and faith in our Lord and Savior that He will be faithful to “Fixer Upper” your heart in this area.

      And I will be praying for wisdom, insight, and more curiosity for you as you continue to walk through the sacrament of forgiveness.

      Remember, you must forgive for Christ’s sake not for your own or for your husband’s.

      Forgive because you have been forgiven, not because the other person deserves forgiveness; for there is no other way to find freedom from chronic unforgiveness.

      I will be praying for you, and I will definitely look into that book, sounds very powerful.

      -Your Soul Sister, Sarah

  2. Well said my friend! I love what you said about boundaries. “They give us a sense of ownership over our own heart and empower us to create healthful relationships.” I want to set my boundaries based on God’s leading not my “feelings. Like you said, it can be difficult at times but it’s definitely necessary. Thank you for sharing your heart in this post. God has definitely blessed you with a gift and I’m glad you share with us! Have a wonderful week!

    1. Horace, if you haven’t read the Boundaries book by Townsend and Cloud, it is such a powerful read! I cannot tell you how much it has impacted my life, I am totally a boundaries girl! Thank you again for writing the post that made me consider, for the first time, if I was storing up clutter in my own heart. I simply loved your insight into the matter and enjoyed putting my own spin on it as well. Although, if these articles continue to get longer, I am going to have to start considering putting all of my thoughts into a book. I feel bad for my poor readers, 1500 words is just too long for a blog post (in my opinion)….but each and every word was necessary, so I just had to go with it. Hope you have a fantastic Thursday!

        1. That is wonderfully encouraging, Miranda. My best friend told me the same thing, but it’s nice to hear from someone who doesn’t know me quite so well (or love me quite so much!). I hope you enjoy your time spent on my site.

  3. Love this! So true if our heart is cluttered we need to ask Jesus to de-clutter it. I love how you whent into why. Since I am commenting on a post, I wanted to let you know, I love your link up page, thanks for posting them all in one spot.

    1. I do believe, when it comes to heart matters, we are pretty limited in our abilities to fix ourselves. It’s not always easy to invite Jesus into the cluttered places of our lives and hearts, but He is so gentle and kind. Like that friend who never judges you because your house is trashed, instead she picks up the broom and gets to work. I am glad to hear you are enjoying my linkup page, I use it each and every day for myself and look forward to creating another one for my Grounded & Surrounded website (more recipes and health stuff).

    1. Kristy, thank you for your honesty. I have experienced times when each and every one of these major areas has gotten out order, and my heart truly breaks for you.

      The trials of life can be so overwhelming, and it is often difficult to know what to do first. I will be praying for you, I hope you believe that.

      Also, I just want to offer one word of advice to you, and I hope you take it to heart. You can’t fix it all at once.

      Think about the clutter analogy from this post….when you set out to de-clutter your home, you have to break it down into smaller projects and tackle one at a time.

      Each project in and of itself is exhausting, but if you persist, you will eventually get your house in order. You must treat your heart the same way.

      Pick one thing (preferably something small) and start there. Focus on that one thing until you experience victory, then choose another…slowly working your way through the list.

      The resources I shared in this post are life-changing, I highly encourage you to get a copy of Ordering Your Private World first, as I think it is a very comprehensive book that with resources and advice that will meet you right where you are at.

  4. This is good stuff, Sarah! And I so relate to this, “I am weary from focusing my energy on cleanliness rather than character, dust rather than destiny, and feeding my family rather than nourishing my soul!” My goodness, yes. A beautiful reminder today to keep our hearts clean. Lord, cleanse me today. Thank you, Sarah! #livefreeThursday

    1. It’s all about priorities, isn’t it Crystal? I am slowly learning to simply be with the Lord before I start doing anything on my list for the day.
      Your comment made me think of one of my favorite verses (and songs!): “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” -Psalm 51:10 Thank you for consistently setting aside the time to engage with the #livefree writers, you are such a blessing!

  5. Sarah, I love this illustration. We spend so much time (some of us???) cleaning and decluttering our houses, not near enough time on our hearts. #2 rings true with me. I always need more time with Jesus. Loved that Gordon McDonald book years ago.

    #LiveFree

    1. Betsy, it is so easy as women to fall into the people-pleasing trap, isn’t it? Focusing on doing and not leaving any time for being. My best friend always calls it being Martha instead of Mary (and I smile each time she says she was being like Martha today….bless her sweet heart!). I pulled the Ordering Your Private World book out of my closet yesterday as I was putting this post together, and I’m thinking it’s about time I re-read it.

  6. It honestly feels like you wrote this just for me. I’ve been focusing so much on my external world that I don’t even want to look at the clutter that has been piling up in my heart. This post gives me that nudge I need to go and take a look…. Thank you very much.

    1. Manda, I don’t know you personally, but I don’t think our struggle is unique (even if it feels like it is sometimes). I hope that knowing there is someone out there who feels just like you do is comforting, but also motivating. I think one of Satan’s best strategies is to utterly and completely distract us from the most important tasks of life. From the things that give God glory. Cluttered hearts and fast-paced lifestyles don’t do that, so Satan and the world are constantly nudging us that way…away from the truth and into a trap. The most important thing for both of us to remember is that Jesus loves us, clutter and all!

    1. Ally, thank you for taking the time to stop by and join the conversation. It’s so fun when my homesteading friends stop by (my favorite people group….seriously!). Self-care is a difficult one for me too. It is far easier to care for others (two legged, feathered, and four legged) than to take time to care for ourselves. Doesn’t make it any less important though…..let’s both try to take some time this weekend for some soul care!

  7. I loved this post. The idea of a heart that is cluttered was a very powerful (and helpful) image for me. I, too, struggle with sometimes focusing more on what needs to be done and keeping external things in order than on what really matters – the state of my heart before God. The worst part is that I often don’t stop and think long enough to realize that it’s happening. Thank you for the reminder to take my heart in prayer before God and to let Him help me clean it out so there is room for the good things He wants to put there. I needed that reminder today : )

    1. I sincerely owe the illustration to my friend Horace. I had never thought of it before I read his article, and like you…..it just clicked for me. Busyness is the true cause of most clutter in our lives, physical and emotional. I think we hesitate to slow down for fear that our world will come crumbling down around us if we do. Such a lie, isn’t it? God puts such a high priority on rest in scripture. I really benefited from doing a word study on rest a few years ago. It’s just a word document with scriptures, rough thoughts, and prayers. If you want me to send it to you, just drop me an e-mail (my e-mail is on the contact page of my site). I would gladly share…..

  8. Wonderful post Sarah! I had to deal with something today that I believe God used to help heal me of some heart clutter! Oh, if I we could just be!! Love that, desire that! Thanks and God bless:)

    1. Lisa, I have been waking up each morning and reminding myself “be before you do.” It’s my new mantra! I am so glad to hear that God is working on de-cluttering your heart. Like I said in the article, it’s often a messy process…but so worth the effort. I am so glad you decided to stop by and thank you for adding your thoughts to the conversation.

  9. I needed this article today. I’m dealing with some chronic unforgiveness. I think I have it “cleaned up” and then it pops up again. But each time I want to call out to Jesus to help me and I know He will. Thanks for sharing this article from your heart.

    1. I am so blessed to know this article was timely for you. I have struggled with forgiveness for years, and I have finally determined that it is just going to keep popping its ugly head when I expect it least! But it keeps me humble and desperately in need of God’s grace, and for that…I have discovered some level of gratitude for the persistent little bugger! Praying for freedom to reign in your heart and in my own today.

  10. Fixer Upper — my favorite show! I love how you describe Jesus as the ultimate fixer upper. I can just see Him standing back glancing into my heart and soul imagining all the restoration work He can accomplish. However, I need to be part of that work and allow Him to knock a few walls down to create some awesome open plan space where a new design can unfold. I am moving next month and have become lazy with tidying as I know the box process will soon begin. You have encouraged me to take a fresh look on the packing process, as my husband is a huge fan of tossing things and de-cluttering our belongings as we pack. For each item that doesn’t make it into a box, I am going to consider what is in my heart that I should leave behind as we move forward 🙂 Blessed to be your neighbor at #Titus2sDay!

    1. I knew you and I were kindred spirits, Sarah! It’s the first “grown up” show I have been able to convince my 6 & 8 year old girls to watch with me….this mama was in heaven!

      And I recently read an article about how the Gains family professes a strong Christian faith, which makes me love them even more!

      Thank you for taking my fixer-upper idea and running with it, I love all of the parallels you drew in your thoughtful comment. Best of luck on the move! Moving is a great time to de-clutter both your external stuff and your internal stuff…so get to it!

  11. Sarah, The Lord spoke to me in a profound way through the words of this blog post.

    I have been struggling so much lately with so many responsibilities and being too tired to make the time to be with the Lord. (This is truly a joyous season of my life. My daughter, son-in-law and precious seven month old granddaughter live with me and my husband. That in and of itself leaves little time, but I also babysit my granddaughter as well and work 15 hours a week part-time. I am blessed beyond measure in all those aspects.

    Yes, I do my blogging and I am so thankful for the time I spend reading Scriptures and praying through the writing of my own blog posts, as well as reading all the edifying blog posts I do during the week.

    But I am not allowing enough time for my own personal quiet time…

    I loved your insights on decluttering our hearts and the three steps in working toward that end. The Lord has really been speaking to me in these areas. Your post certainly adding to that message.

    I will be sharing this blog post this Friday on my Feature Friday segment. Feel free to stop by and grab my button. 🙂

    Thank you so much for sharing. I have been blessed.

    1. Karen, you are such a dear heart…that is so apparent to me after reading your comment. I must confess that my life has been absolutely wonderful as of late also, and I am guilty of enjoying it so much that I ended up in a spiritual desert. It seems that the Lord is near during the trials of life, but when things get good and I don’t “need” Him quite so much…I tend to pull away from Him and try to handle things on my own.

      I love blogging about faith because it forces me into scripture, but you are so right, we have to be careful to take time just to enjoy God and search out his goodness for ourselves also.

      What really spurred me on, and helped get me back on track, was studying the spiritual giants of faith for my #write31days series. EVERY person I studied talked about the dire importance of soaking God up each and every day (especially Oswald Chambers). It sparked something in me, a true desire to know Him more and to commune with him. I will be praying that something will spark in you as well.

      I look forward to swinging by your blog on Friday, thank you so much for helping me share this important message!

  12. Sarah, this is such a wonderful, insightful, practical article. I am printing it so I can read it again and again. i struggle with this outward, external busyness when I long for internal cleanliness and peace. I know God is working on it, I wrote a long (vomiting) prayer of all of my internal stress yesterday and God keeps bringing things across my path in Bible study, conversation and now your article. Thank You! I am going on a planning retreat Saturday and taking this with me! Blessings! Stopping by from Three Word Wednesday!

    1. Oh, I hope your Saturday is super fruitful and leaves you feeling refreshed and organized. I am learning the importance of scheduling time at the very beginning of the day to just be before I tackle my to-do list and I am already noticing a difference in my perspective. I don’t feel so overwhelmed anymore. God is so faithful! I am grateful He used my words to reach into your heart today. Blessings.

    1. Holidays are coming, that’s for sure! It seems like holidays are a time when hidden heart clutter always seems to come to the surface for me. There is something about getting family back together that reverts me to a younger, less mature version of myself. I am hoping and praying that I finally cleared out enough junk that I can be fully me and fully focus my attention on loving and seeing my family for who they are now. Blessings to you, Kelsie!

  13. I’m in the process of de-cluttering, Sarah. My propensity to do more often leaves me unable to do what I love most. God has been encouraging me to clean house–to let Him sift through what I have my hands in and choose the best. It’s early in the process, but so very energizing. Thanks for the encouragement to stay the course. And FixerUpper…LOVE!! 🙂

    1. I once read a blogger bio where the lady claimed to be a “reformed doer.” That really hit home to me. I had a season of my life, not too long ago, where a health crisis forced me to stop doing everything. It was so hard on me at first, but after a while, I settled into a more restful, relaxed lifestyle.

      I really think there is more fruit on this side of the fence, and I am glad God forced my hand or I may have never been strong enough to jump over to this side. I still fight the urge to do-more, but I am well on my way to becoming a reformed doer.

      I think it is awesome that you were wise enough to come to this knowledge on your own, and encourage you to keep allowing Him to sift…it’s painful, but it’s worth it!

      Oh, and about Fixer Upper. One of my blogging friends tagged JoJo in a twitter conversation about this post, and she hearted it….made me far too happy!!!

    1. It’s one of those things that really sticks with you. Sometimes it’s hard for me to keep my priorities straight, and I always seem to be cleaning up my home (what mom doesn’t???)….so linking cleaning and the condition of my heart into one thing helps me remember to clean beneath the surface too. Thanks for swinging by Jendi!

  14. Beautifully written, Sarah! I like this idea of de-cluttering the heart. Yes, this is something to really chew on. Thanks for sharing with us at Grace and Truth last week! 🙂
    Jen @ Being Confident of This

    1. I wish I could take credit for the idea….but who cares about credit anyway, right?!? My friend Horace wrote an article about heart clutter and it just stuck with me! I had to chew on it for a few weeks, and this is the result of my chewing. Thank you so much for supporting other bloggers through the Grace & Truth linkup.

  15. Oh I love this! I have never thought about it as “De-cluttering my heart” what a beautiful description for spending time to take care of yourself. <3

    1. Kathy, thank you for telling me. Us bloggers often feel like we are sending our words and hard fought battles out into the wind. I am happy to help and encourage, hope you visit again soon!

  16. Hi Sarah,

    I like the way you express this; you are speaking my language. I am definitely a fixer upper right now, but can surely see God’s hands in the process, so what could go wrong? The book Tired of Trying to Measure Up by Jeff VanVonderen is a DEEP one on this topic. Be ready for a serious Demo Day throughout the first half. I’m pausing at the halfway point before I even continue with the rebuilding part.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Lisa

  17. I loved reading this blog. I am struggling in forgiveness. I pray to God to help me with this area, but I also would like to thank you for it has helped me. I am also doing the bible study of Ephesians, which is great. Many blessing to you.

    1. Oh, dear. Forgiveness is such a tough one, Monica. I was just reading the second half of Matthew 18 this morning. About the master who forgave a huge debt for a slave, yet the slave didn’t forgive a small debt of another. This was in response to one of the disciples questions about how often to forgive. The most helpful thing for me to remember is we don’t forgive because the person deserves forgiveness, we do it because God has asked it of us (and will empower us to do it). So glad you are joining us for the Ephesians study. I pray it is a blessing.

      1. Yes, very true. I will continue to pray for my character to be more like Jesus. The bible study has really been a blessing, read it every morning at 5:30, a great way to start my day. Thank you again for sharing and will pray for Go to continue to give you this talents to help others with their spiritual lives like you have helped me.

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