What My Cluttered Closet Taught Me About My Heart

In an episode of Friends, super-organized Monica Gellar has a dirty secret in her hall closet. Chandler, desperate to see what she is hiding, takes the locked door off its hinges. It is full, top to bottom, of junk. When Monica walks in to see her exposed mess, she is mortified.

“You know how I organize everything? Well, this is all the stuff that doesn’t fit in any category. So, you see, I’m not messy. I’m just so organized that…”

I have a secret closet, too. My hall closet was stuffed with everything that didn’t have a place to go. When we moved into our house, it was mostly organized: photo boxes stacked neatly, board games lined up according to size, and extra blankets on the top shelf. Over time, I piled one thing after another in that tiny closet until it became a hazard. Open the door and duck! Something may fall on you.

Following Kathi Lipp’s Kickstart to Clutter Free online course, I kept my paper piles under control and my kitchen counter clear. But every time I opened the door to my secret closet, my organizational hypocrisy mocked me. After putting if off for months, I finally tackled my nemesis. As I unloaded junk, I thought about the condition of my heart. My hall closet, tight with clutter, showed me a lot about myself.

What My Cluttered Closet Taught Me about My Heart

 

Stuffing it in doesn’t make it go away.

I am a stuffer. When I am not ready or willing to deal with an emotion, it gets stuffed. I smile like everything is great, but eventually, those cluttered emotions lead to deep-seated bitterness. Over time, the junk builds up until a conflict causes it to spill out. The usual victims are those closest to me—my husband and kids. My anger and bitterness land with a thud. Instead of stuffing those emotions, the better choice is to deal with them appropriately, putting them in their proper place.

 

Clutter makes me grouchy.

My kids store their games and craft supplies in the hall closet among the clutter. When they opened the door to pull out craft paper or Scrabble, I became anxious about the mess they would leave behind. A well-ordered closet means my kids now have the freedom to have fun without mom losing her cool. The same is true for my heart. When I allow cluttered emotions, fatigue, and frustration to run wild, my kids feel the effects. A well-ordered heart helps me to respond to their requests and needs with patience and kindness.

When I allow cluttered emotions, fatigue, and frustration to run wild, my kids feel the effects.Click To Tweet

 

Good things are covered under the trash.

While unpacking the layers of unneeded and unwanted clutter, I found so many forgotten treasures. The only games our family played were the ones precariously stacked on top of the junk. I found our original stack of loved but forgotten games. Layered in the mix, I found a photo of my granddaddy holding my daughter. I also uncovered a box of unused school supplies. All of these good things were lost under the mess. I allow sin to do the same in my heart. It layers slowly—a bad habit here, lack of self-control there. Eventually, the good in me is hidden under a layer of bad. God, in his grace, breaks through the mess in my heart. Through repentance and unending mercy, my heart can be made new again.

 

A little maintenance along the way prevents the need for a major overhaul.

The clutter in my closet didn’t appear overnight. I built it like a mason, one stone at a time. After four years of stuffing, it feels so good to see those shelves un-stuffed. In order to keep the order, I cannot resume the habit of hiding homeless items behind that door. I can keep it organized by making little choices every day–put the stray Uno card back in the deck instead of on the shelf and the school photos in the picture album instead of haphazardly throwing them in with the fray. My heart requires the same kind of daily maintenance. Starting the day in prayer and Bible reading helps to keep my heart focused. Regular self-examination and repentance keep the mess of sin from building up. Dealing with emotions in a healthy time frame allows me to respond to others with love.

Dealing with emotions in a healthy time frame allows me to respond to others with love.Click To Tweet

What My Cluttered Closet Taught Me about My Heart

Although I didn’t count as I worked my way to the bottom of my secret closet, I know I exceeded the twenty-five things assigned to Day 12. I hauled off one trash bag, one box of donations, and one box of items belonging in other rooms. My hall closet isn’t picture perfect, but it is functional. And nothing will fall on your head when you open it.

Kickstart to Clutter FreeGet serious about your clutter with Kathi’s Kickstart to Clutter Free. She makes it easy. Set your timer for fifteen minutes. Grab your trash/donate/keep boxes and get started. As you eliminate the clutter in your home, allow God to show you what might be hiding in your own heart. Let’s keep working on being clutter free, inside and out.

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13 Comments

  1. I love this. So applicable to everyone. Thanks for sharing!

  2. We all have that ONE closet don’t we 🙂 I love what you said about the good stuff being hidden underneath. It’s so true in my life. I love this post, I most definitely needed to read it!

    • I absolutely recommend keeping that emotional closet cleaned out, especially in these early days of marriage. After eighteen years, my emotional closet is so stuffed, it’s taking a lot of work to get that mess cleaned up!

  3. Oh my goodness, Kelly, what wonderful truths you have here! And they were presented in plain sight, not tucked away and hidden from us.
    Physical clutter really gets to me but as I read this I wondered if I’m as bothered by other types of clutter in my life. Wow. Thank you for inspiring me to dig deeper.

  4. This is really sweet I love that you took this as a lesson not just a cleaning day.

  5. It’s so true that the treasures get hidden under the mess. It’s such a good feeling to find the treasures and be rid of the mess, isn’t it?
    Great job drawing these parallels! 🙂

  6. This analogy is so true, Kelly. Thank you for reminding us to keep our emotional closet uncluttered. That’s so important. I love what you say about God breaking through our messes. He wants us to pour out all that clutter to Him, and He will keep digging until He reveals those hidden treasures planted by Him. Thank you for helping me to reflect on these things today and for the encouragement you give here.

  7. There is a lesson in everything isn’t there. You are so right on with this one, Kelley. I prone to hide my emotions away in the same way I have that closet that noone needs to open. When you get beneath the surface, it all spills out. Just like the crowded stuff in my closet. I hear God speaking through you to clean up the mess. Thank you my dear.

  8. Tomorrow is my day to make some headway!! I am choking on STUFF…

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