On my birthday, my best friend gifted me with a magical book, titled “the life-changing magic of tidying up” by Marie Kondo, a Japanese organizing professional. It had already been buzzing around my circle of friends when Mary told me about it at a spring baby shower. She described it in those very terms – “life-transforming!” and summarized the book by saying, “You clean out your house by asking the simple question of every item in it: does this spark joy?” I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical when I first heard about it. It sounds a bit too simple, and “magical” and organizing don’t seem to fit together in a book title. Plus as a Christian who puts value in the spiritual and eternal over the temporary and material, none of my stuff *should* spark true joy, right?
Yes, and no. Of course possessions shouldn’t spark true, lasting eternal joy, but the things I choose to invest in should bring some measure of meaning and beauty into my life. Beauty reflects God’s glory wherever it is found. And shouldn’t I want my house and closet and bookshelf to only be filled with what seems beautiful (and useful) to me/our family? Additionally, if my energy and time and attention is consumed with maintaining all my “things,” I have less of it to devote to what is truly and most important in my life – relationships, service, justice, mercy, kindness, God’s Word, to list a few.
So I read the book this summer, and decided that when my 5-year-olds started 5-day preschool this fall, I would give the “Konmari method” a fair shot. I’ve sorted through clothing and books so far, with three categories remaining: paper, miscellany, memorabilia. And it has been pretty darn close to magical in terms of how liberating it feels to get rid of things I do not want or need. I can feel my mental capacity increasing as my things in my closet decrease and as my bookshelves open up. For me as a self-professed bibliophile, that says something.
And an important caveat: no method is 100% effective, nor can it be for all people. I’m not following all of her suggestions, and there’s a few sections I’m amending or omitting entirely. Like emptying my purse every day and thanking all of my things for serving me each day. Or her instruction not to roll up socks because they’ve done so much work during the day and need some rest. I’m not an animist, and parts of her book sound a bit like animism and a mixture of her Japanese Shintoism. But I as a Christian should be first in line to care for things better, and to live life more simply and with greater joy. Plus – for a second post in the future – all the things I’m purging from my house can be put to better use and shared with those who need them more than I do.
If you’ve tried the Konmari method, has it worked for you? What’s been your experience? I’d love to hear from you. It’ll give me the courage I need to tackle the piles and piles and piles of papers scattered throughout my house as next week’s Konmari task … !