If I’m honest, it may have been a simple case of avoidance. “Deconstructing Christmas decorations is my favorite thing to do,” said no one ever. So, it made perfect sense that that moment was the ideal time to kick off a new year’s initiative, right? Organizing and decluttering closets and drawers suddenly became just as important as putting away the circus of ornaments, snarl of lights, and crates of holiday decor.
I was in an all too rare mood to get rid of things I hoped would serve and delight new owners, and I knew from experience I needed to act before the feeling passed. Purging is a real challenge for me sometimes, not because I’m a hoarder so much, but because everything seems to hold a special memory. To discard something I once held dear, gifts from others or even personal purchases — clothing, jewelry, art, furniture, surcies — feels like I’m dismissing the value of what it meant to me at the time or the person who gave it to me. This isn’t true, of course, but still. It feels like it.
Though I haven’t read Marie Kondō’s, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, I know its premise is to let go of the things that no longer “spark joy” in life. On my mission to return our home to its pre-Christmas condition, I found a new mission to rid our home of anything that sucked joy.
That is until I stumbled onto a new, new mission, and suddenly I couldn’t do anything but deal with this:
Ages ago, I had repurposed a scarf hanger in my closest for necklaces and chains. One day I accidentally knocked it down, and in the process, made a terrible mess. I tried to untangle the jewelry, but the more frantically I tried, the more the knots seemed to tighten. Exasperated, I finally tossed them all in a bowl and left them for another day.
Apparently “another day” happened to take place the week after Christmas.
I dumped the necklaces onto my bathroom counter and studied the pile, gently separating pieces that were easy to loosen. A few others became disentangled with only a little more effort. But it was those last few that tried my patience, challenging my salvation, as if such a thing were possible. I was tempted to give up, but sentimental attachment (and some 14kt gold) kept me going.
Resigned to the task at hand, I took a deep breath, determined to finish what I started. The more carefully I focused, the more clearly I could trace the path of each knot and conclude what I needed to do next. Noting how the ends arrived in a tangle provided the clues about how to unravel them.
I also discovered this was slow work. If I tried to pull them apart too forcefully, I only made matters worse. Working slowly, methodically, and gently yielded the best results. I also realized I worked more efficiently with help. No, there wasn’t anyone around to give me a hand, but I found it was easier if the counter supported the weight of the necklaces rather than me holding the pile — not only were both hands free to work, but there was no resistance when the chains were laying flat. I borrowed my husband’s readers to magnify the more delicate knots and used point-tip tweezers, the perfect tool to wiggle some of the knots loose.
Quiet, steady, and making progress, with nothing to listen to but my thoughts, I began to sense the Lord revealing Himself to me. What a surprise and delight for such a mundane chore to bear witness to God and remind me of Scripture that paralleled what I was doing. It wasn’t so much a literal correlation, but my actions were bringing to mind familiar verses and words long-hidden in my heart.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding;
in all your ways know him, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (CSB)
The more I focused on what I was doing, the more clear it became what to do next.
And me? I’m a mess. I’m nothing and have nothing: make something of me.
You can do it; you’ve got what it takes — but God, don’t put it off.
Psalm 40:17 (MSG)
I am a mess, though on that day, I was working with a mess. Isn’t it incredible that God can take a mess and make something beautiful?
It may seem like a stretch for these scriptures to “fit” what I was doing that day, but untangling those necklaces showed me how God used an everyday task to turn my thoughts toward Him. Making a connection between my work and God’s Word reminded me that all of life is holy and precious.
Though I had “squirreled!” all over the place that day, I was reminded that, indeed, God is in the details. The drudgery of all my chores became a joy when I remembered 1) they’re all things I get to do, and truly, 2) all of life is deeply spiritual. When my heart and mind shifted to consider each task an opportunity — and this year, as in every year, we will have many — I couldn’t help but praise God for all my messes, including myself. Each is an opportunity to respond as 1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us:
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.
What task are you going to see as an opportunity to do for the glory of God?
God can take a mess and make something beautiful. - @RobinDance: Click To Tweet