by Daniel Thomas, CGS Musician
It seems that, suddenly, the world has become obsessed with tidying. Everyone I know is either KonMari-ing their house or actively rebelling against it, and the jokes and memes about things “sparking joy” have reached a fever pitch. I have always tried to be tidy, but the accumulation of years usually means the accumulation of stuff.
In fifteen months, Rebecca and I got engaged, got married, got pregnant, sold two houses, quit our jobs, moved to a new city, got new jobs, bought a house, and gave birth. The sheer rush of such major life events left very little time for consideration of our stuff. When we moved, we were just happy to get two households’ worth of stuff packed up and into a storage unit – the idea of methodically parsing and pruning our material possessions just wasn’t in the cards. Add a newborn to that, and then the newborn becomes a toddler, and we now find ourselves, like many on the show Tidying Up, overwhelmed by the thought of going through all the stuff we have – and I would guess we actually have comparatively little. However, we’ve started the process – mainly motivated by the fact that, as we are in the market for a new house, we just don’t want to pack up and unpack all that stuff again. We are dutifully following Ms. Kondo’s instructions, looking at each item and asking if it “sparks joy,” then either keeping or discarding that item. And indeed, we are shedding ourselves of a lot of stuff.
As we move through this process, though, it occurs to me that most of us not only hold on to physical stuff that don’t spark joy, but mental and emotional stuff as well. We worry, criticize, judge, engage in schadenfreude, mock, demonize, vilify, judge some more, fret, and snark. And we’re left feeling – what? Morally superior? Momentarily amused? Quasi-successful in our attempt to bury our own insecurities? What I’m sure we’re not feeling is joy.
When we can start to let go of the foibles and failings of other people – when we can realize that their failures do not equal our successes – then we can begin to focus on our own behaviors and actions, and to make sure that what we do, what we say, and how we treat others sparks joy in ourselves and all of those around us.
To be certain, I’m not advocating burying our heads in the sand about matters of social, political, or economic justice – participating (actively participating) in the quest to make the world the loving, tolerant, and forgiving place that Jesus wished for us can and should spark joy in us. But the small, day-to-day behaviors – silently (or loudly) cursing the driver that cut us off; questioning the motives of someone’s social media post; or building our tiny boxes to place the rest of humanity in, each box labeled with our pre-conceived notion of them based on their race, gender identity, sexuality, ideology, income bracket, or how messy their house is – we can, and should, pick each one of these behaviors up, thank them, then get rid of them. And suddenly, we find our hearts and souls have become a lot more tidy.
Christ the Good Shepherd
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