It started off as a project to help de-stress hubby.
I wanted to do something loving, to show my gratitude for all he’s done for me.
After all, helping someone recover from post-traumatic stress can be… well…
Can you imagine seeing the one you love so dearly go through such physical and emotional hardship day in and day out?
It would tear at your heart, breaking it a little more every time you relived a painful memory through her eyes, as she’d recount each story to you unguarded.
Can you imagine waiting alongside the one you love — staying strong enough on the outside, in order to remain soft and tender on the inside — to listen, hold, and comfort while she cried, and yet there was nothing you could do to fix it?
What would it be like to work a full day’s job at the office, only to return home to help with the kids, getting sleep sliced up tending to children’s wake-ups, then rising up ready them for school, to ease your wife’s burdens?
The journey to love someone as they heal calls a husband to give everything in his power to take care of the woman he loves.
He will keep going, even when his heart and body are telling him he should stop and rest too — even as love takes a toll on him as well.
So as I headed toward one year ending and another beginning, I searched my mind for something I could offer my husband — as a token of my appreciation and recognition of the journey he’s been on — to walk with me through the changing kaleidescope of emotional and physical challenges of healing. It’s a terrain that isn’t forgiving because it’s equally disorienting and uncertain for the person who is holding your hand, as you walk through the fog and feel the pain.
What is something practical that I could do, that could encourage him for remaining journey ahead?
This was really hard because I’m using all my energy to do very simple things for myself right now. What could I possibly do for him — that would make a difference?
I couldn’t think of anything big I could do.
So, I brainstormed a cluster of small ideas. I’m not able to offer much. And even though it feels like nothing compared to what I wanted to do — which is to just be all better and take care of him — I was eager to try, even if in the trying, he’d be touched by the act of it.
One of the top three things that jumped into my mind was…
I want to get rid of the clutter.
Out The Window
Trying to recover from post-traumatic stress basically throws housework out the window.
Not to say I was super Martha Stewart prior to my journey through stress and anxiety.
Before becoming a stay-at-home mom, I was super organized, extremely detailed oriented at work. I crossed all my t’s and dotted my i’s.
But, at home, it was a different story. I always throught myself as a creative type. I don’t like to be boxed in. I’m free flowing. Spontaneous.
From our first days of dating, I’ve not been shy or apologetic about my housekeeping perspective.
I am clean.
I am neat.
But, I organize my life in clean, neat piles. I know where everything is. Just don’t touch my piles.
I’m not a horder by any means. I keep my piles in check. But, I do tend to stack things together and never had a problem having different items to co-habitate the same space.
But, my husband on the other hand is clean, neat and no-stacking-allowed-type organized. He views the words piles and organized as oxymorons, while they co-exist in a symbiotic relationship in my world.
The First Time
The first time Eric invited me over to his place to cook me dinner (yes, I was super impressed), he handed me a crisply folded piece of paper that read, “Le Menu”. I was over-the-moon with excitement and after acting calm and giddy for a few minutes, I excused myself.
I wanted to check out his bathroom. I was expecting bachelor pad standard fare. But, instead I was blinded by shiny tile and sparkling faucets. I checked behind the shower curtain and I stood amazed. Oh my gosh. This guy has housecleaning service!
Yes! This bodes well for me in the future. I noted.
Imagine my alarm, then, as I’m trying to delicately pop edaname into my mouth without shooting them across the table, my new beau tells me the only housecleaning service he employs are his own two hands.
My sweet husband proposed to me knowing full well what he was getting into.
Housecleaning is not one of my love languages.
But, that is exactly why I decided — I must do something about the growing clutter that’s been left unchallenged during this season of healing in my life.
It had gotten to a level where it’s stressing me out to have stuff in every part of the house.
Then, it dawned on me.
If it’s so stressful for me, how stressful it must be for my husband, to live in a home where things just aren’t put away. Just waiting to be processed.
I want him to know how very much I love and care about his well-being. I wanted to speak in his love language.
I decided one Saturday morning.
It’s time to get practical.
I don’t know when I’m going to be back up to full capacity.
I need to get rid of stuff.
The less stuff I have, the less I’ll need to clean up, organize and keep track of.
The more energy and time I’ll regain, to enjoy what feeds my soul.
The more my sweet husband will feel relaxed in our home.
The desire to de-clutter and organize my home started with a deep longing to touch my husband’s heart, to let him know how much his sacrifices have meant to me.
I never would have guessed that a home organizing attempt would bring me deeper into the heart of God’s passion to free me from the pain of the past — so I can live as the Beloved in my today.
More Than An Organization Project
A seemingly innocuous housekeeping chore became another step in my spiritual journey for my heart’s homecoming.
For Jesus to free up space my soul.
To let go and find rest.
De-cluttering for me became more than an organization project.
It isn’t the way books depict it.
Getting rid of clutter is not easy.
Because letting go involves looking at what you’re holding onto.
Because sometimes, it’s time to say goodbye to what once gave you comfort,
so you can face the place of empty,
to surrender yourself to what your heart truly longs for.
It’s what Jesus is whispering to you —
Yes. I know.
I have more than this.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
~ Isaih 40:10
… To be continued… Dear friends, I want to finish today’s post, but it is very late and I need to stop and lay down. Trust me when I tell you this isn’t just a post on de-cluttering. God revealed something deep and true to my heart as I took my first steps to getting rid of stuff to organize my home.
As I called up my high school best friend Annette to come over and help me clean up, I never would have guessed an innocent project to get organized would unfurl some hard and beautiful flashes of what it means to be loved — along with the steps God led me to take — to live as the Beloved daughter of His.
How has God met you in your journey to make your home a more restful space for your soul?
How do you respond to this week’s faith prompt “clutter”?
Pull up a chair. I’m curious how today’s topic speaks to you.Click to comment and read each other’s thoughts.
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*Today’s 1/24/13 Writing Prompt: “Clutter” (inspired by Faith Jam contributer Glynn Young’s One Word for 2013 at Faith, Fiction, Friends.
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What a beautiful gift for your husband. My housecleaning style is similar to yours. My husband grew up in an immaculate home and, whether he was aware of it or not, he expected the same from me. He feels respected when the house is clean. We’re married 16 years and this is still a struggle.
I’m looking forward to reading the conclusion of your post, but please don’t stress over writing it.
“Housecleaning is not one of my love languages.” Love that. You should print it on a t-shirt. 🙂
“Love that. You should print it on a t-shirt.” — This made me laugh so hard! I’m gonna post it on Facebook tomorrow for everyone to enjoy. Thanks, Melissa!
Like Melissa, my husband feels respected when the house is clean, although he doesn’t hint at that. He was raised in a cluttered, hectic household, and he and I both find peace in organization. That is what makes the lack of it so stressful for me–I feel that I’m not only letting myself, but also him, down.
Bonnie, I love the insights you found as you began to work on your clutter. I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts on it.
It’s so special to exchange thoughts on this today, Rebecca. Thanks for making space in your heart for us in sharing your world.
In my case, I’m more the neat freak than my husband, which presents its own challenges. ha. But he’s definitely not messy by any means, so overall it works out great.
Now that other kind of clutter–yes, we all need to keep that cleaned up, too. But it’s even harder. Praying for you, Bonnie, as you go through such deep cleaning. You’re brave, my friend. Love you much.
Sounds like you are sympatico with your hubby! 🙂 Must be so nice, the space you’ve created for you and your family. Thank you for making space for us alongside your journey, Lisa through your writing and your words. I feel a little more brave with friends like you here.
Wednesday after trauma therapy which revealed very disturbing memories I knew I needed to lie down, but my house needed the same. My husband is going through the same thing as yours. So I threw all of my negative emotions into cleaning. This has always been one of my ways of coping which ends with peace as I work through my thoughts, prayer, and any praise I can muster until I too find my heart decluttered.
“Housecleaning is not one of my love languages” either :-), but God has me in a DE-cluttering season, not by choice. I’ve had struggles letting go of past relationships, people that hurt me. I treasure their gifts the same way I treasured them in the past. Every piece of jewelry or priceless article has found it’s way into my heart, like the little piles in your rooms. I realized
that in order to be free from my struggles, free from my hurt and pain of people, I have to let go of their gifts, “De-clutter”. Empty my heart of all the piles of stuff I feel the need to hold onto. Only when my heart is empty can God bring new love, new gifts, new hope. It’s a painful tasks but the end results will be beautiful.
After a very painful divorce, taking care of both parents until they passed, and the clutter of many generations – six dumpsters, in fact – I feel like I’m the clutter! Although I have two siblings I have slowly sifted through many people’s lives by myself, chucking the junk, saving the personal treasures. I have no regrets in making the commitment and effort to fulfill their desires to die at home. The fact that no one will help has left me physically, emotionally, and spiritually alone.
Growing up I would have called our family Christian. Frankly, some of my non-believing friends have been more family than actually siblings. Extended family, including a sister married to a pastor, have actually disowned me because of the divorce. I had no choice – it was literally dangerous to stay. Within the first week after my father’s death she had a lawyer calling me up. Although she was heavily funded by my parents for 28 years she wanted the lion’s share of money.
Anyone else feel like a big D walking around within the Christian community? Nothing has turned out the way it is advertised. Doing everything you can despite those around you guarantees nothing. We’re told that only God will be faithful; people will disappoint. But in the meantime. . . .
I get your posts in my email, Bonnie, and I don’t have to leave my Inbox to be bombarded by clutter. I’ve read Getting Things Done and determined to get it done! I have automatic rules to sort emails into meaningful folders, and subfolders and subsubfolders. I even have a folders designated Delete after 1 Week, Delete after 1 Month, Delete after 1 Year. But once sorted into folders, there the emails stay! That’s the problem – the Delete button just seems so FINAL, never to come back…. What if I need it? How about that email from two years ago that I was able to find last week that helped me unsnarl a puzzle at work and appear efficient, organized, and capable to all in the email string? (Yes, the key word in that sentence is appear)
And my office and home is pretty much the same story – I make great first steps toward eliminating clutter. It’s that final “delete” that stumps me. What if I need it? What if un-forseen, unpredictable circumstances align in exactly the right way that I NEED that? What would I do?
So for me it’s not a question of clutter – it’s a question of fear, of lack of trust in the provision of Jehovah Jireh, the Great Provider. And when I realize that, I’m so ashamed. Because never, never has He not been there and not provided when I needed Him. And yet the Delete button is still so hard to push….
Trust is so hard, especially in the face of pain. Wow, Celeste, I cannot even imagine your pain! As you say, church family can seem more like family than those related by blood. I’m praying the Lord will put people in your life you can trust. And that both of us trust HIM!
Celeste, As a Christian who went through a divorce, I just want to say I really do feel your pain. I am so sorry for the loss of your sister, because you did lose her. I don’t know anywhere in the Bible that tells us to shun divorced people, but it does happen. Perhaps she feels like rubbing shoulders with you will taint her or cause others to gosspip about the pastor’s wife. How sad that she forgot the part about comforting the broken-hearted. If you keep going forward and lean on God, your way will be made clear. You will never be the same because of your divorce, but you may be better. I love furniture that shows its been used, it has more character and has shown it’s strength. You will now become one of us who have had to develop more character & strength than we ever imagined or wanted, but you are beautiful and you are not alone.
I read every post you write – I don’t think I have ever written to tell you how much I appreciate your writing – sometimes when I read what you write I think – how cool it would be to sit down and talk with Bonnie – Your journey has a lot of similarities to mine – and yet there are so many differences – I think in some ways we both ended up at a similar place walking very different roads – but you make me feel like it is all going to be okay. Thank you so much for using some of your strength and gifts to share your journey with people like me – I truly consider it a beautiful gift. I am praying for you and me 🙂
Simplicity is something that we all need more of. Whether it’s possessions and stuff that we need to keep neat, or our heart and mind.
Decluttering is about freedom. So glad you are on that journey
As empty nesters, and people who like things orderly , we do not have a lot of clutter laying around, but when both of us were fighting Lyme Disease it was difficult to do more than just “pick up”. So making our home a restful place has been an ongoing goal for me since our health has returned and I am able to help out more. As I shared, my husband and I both like an orderly home so that is not effort for me…the clutter that I think of comes from the TV or internet that shares our space. We turn the TV off a lot more. We put on soft music, or we watch biblical teachings. We pray for God’s presence to fill our home and for peace to enter in and take up residence. In my own journey with PTS we know the importance of having a restful, safe place to call home. Praying for you Bonnie as you continue on your path to healing. You can stand on His Word. “I am the Lord who heals”.
Your honesty is so healing. I find a smile curling softly across my face as I let your words flow into my heart. Someone…who has been there, too…. How healing it is to see that someone has suffered the same things I have suffered. Not that I wish this on anyone…but…it helps me feel validated…because ‘others’ didn’t understand. Fortunately, I KNEW God did…and hubby, too. Your words are so healing! Rest. We will be praying and waiting for more….Here’s a blessing a beloved minister of my childhood always said at the end of the Sunday service. I remember it warmly.
May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord make his face to shine upon you,
and be gracious unto you.
May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you,
and give you peace.
Pls tell me how u were able to organize in the midst of Ur situation. I need help. While I do not have PTS I do have everyday chronic illnesses as does my 13 year old daughter. Just every day is challenge
Dear Bonnie, Oh this sounds so familiar this process……… my husband for me and me for him. Continuing to think of you and pray dear friend.
oh bonnie, there’s so much here i can relate to. what looks on the outside like physical healing from a recent health crisis has gone so much deeper. the physical piece of my journey only scratches the surface. and oh, the clutter . . .
and THIS! it is precisely my amazing husband’s story as well!
“What would it be like to work a full day’s job at the office, only to return home to help with the kids, getting sleep sliced up tending to children’s wake-ups, then rising up ready them for school, to ease your wife’s burdens?
The journey to love someone as they heal calls a husband to give everything in his power to take care of the woman he loves. He will keep going, even when his heart and body are telling him he should stop and rest too — even as love takes a toll on him as well . . . ”
one of the best descriptions of my husband’s journey i’ve ever read (including my own!).
thank you, sweet sister. i can’t wait to hear what great things He has done.
Oh…one more thing caught my eye in this post that I love and connected with: “But, at home, it was a different story. I always throught myself as a creative type. I don’t like to be boxed in. I’m free flowing. Spontaneous.” Me, too! And…I LOVE that part of me and trying hard to let that part blossom again. God bless!
Oh…one more thing caught my eye in this post that I love and connected with: “But, at home, it was a different story. I always thought myself as a creative type. I don’t like to be boxed in. I’m free flowing. Spontaneous.” Me, too! And…I LOVE that part of me and trying hard to let that part blossom again. God bless!
You are so much like me I can’t believe it. YES don’t touch my piles. I have organized ‘piles’ and I basically know what is in there. My husband has a hard time with that he often will say ‘make a file on the computer’ or ‘did you make a list?’ I am not that kind of person.
If he throws my ‘stuff away’ or rearranges it triggers me back to having no control and the pitching and throwing I had experienced ‘in childhood’. I have prayed about it and God is slowly showing me.
Empowerment comes from me doing the de cluterring. I have to do it. Not be forced. No I am not a hoarder just a collector. There is a huge difference.
Great blog post.
[…] Jamming with Bonnie today and the Faith Barista community as we tackle the prompt of clutter. […]
What a great post Bonnie! I know it must have blessed your husband so much (though it sounds like you are still in process).
God bless you! I know this is a difficult season for you – but one day this will be behind you and you will find yourself helping others escape.
“Because letting go involves looking at what you’re holding onto. Because sometimes, it’s time to say goodbye to what once gave you comfort, so you can face the place of empty, to surrender yourself to what your heart truly longs for.”
Oh yes, my friend. I get this. I do. xoxo
WOW – It isn’t just our TV room, but after reading your post – I need to so some major declutter in other rooms – Your hubby is a jewel and a keeper!
Thank you for your heartfelt insight. I feel so blessed to have “found” you. After 25 years of marriage blessed with 4 daughters, I was blindsided that “he was done” and wanted a new life, little did I know he had been living a double life. Finding out that my home was in foreclosure( he took care of the finances) I proceeded to go through pack up my home from all the “memories” I had saved over the years for my family. Looking back and after crying an ocean of tears, I know by the grace of God I was able to finish this task. I managed to keep a sign that says SIMPLIFY that hangs in my apartment. I used to call it organized clutter and my sister used to laugh and say whenever she felt the need to “clean up stuff”, she would wait intil she was in a bad mood, put on sneakers and go to town! We all have our own style and I personally would rather unclutter my mind first! Thank you Bonnie and know you are in my thoughts and prayers. God Bless You on this journey
Oh, Bonnie. You do have a gift for words…words that speak to the heart. I nearly gasped when I read this, ” I de-cluttered my life and began to listen to God more”
“It’s what Jesus is whispering to you –
Yes. I know.
I have more than this.
I don’t even know what to say…..just that I get this. Really, get it. It makes me feel better to know that I am not the only one. I get so bogged down with the stuff of life that I have difficulty hearing Jesus say, “there is more than this.”
Have a good week, Bonnie. Praying for you as you journey on.
Great topic. Both my husband and I are savers. We save papers, information, books and items that we think my have some further use. My husband can fix anything–but he also saves so many old parts.
As I try to de-clutter I am focusing on passing along books, clothes and items that someone else might use. Occasionally I tackle the files and remove papers that are no longer relevant.
At the same time I want to respect my husband’s interest in fixing things, and support him. My husband is working on his piles of papers, scanning some. This is a big issue that does have a spiritual component. I look forward to your part 2.
I tried to write a post on this topic, but my thoughts kept returning to the anniversary of Roe v. Wade and life issues.
I feel as if I live in a constant state of overwhelm. My house is rarely clean, an it isn’t a high priority for my husband either, which makes it even worse. Although he can fold laundry for days! Between work, children, ministry, blogging and menopause, I hardly have time to make things just right. But I want to learn simplicity in my home, how to do small things that lead to bigger things. I shared about the heart journey today as well. Sometimes I think I refuse to look at what I am holding on to, and I have to ask, “Do I really want to give it up”? Be blessed Bonnie!
God showed me what marriage is supposed to look like by de-cluttering our marriage, forgiving easy, working things out, talking to and not at each other, and never disrespecting each other. Marriages I have witnessed made the man more or less like the scum on the bottom of the shoe, always giving into the woman, allowing clutter into their lives–things that in the long run don’t matter. God has shown me love through ten years of marriage.
[…] wrote this post for Bonnie’s Faith Jam Thursday but didn’t get it posted in time… so I’m linking up […]
Wow, I love this, Bonnie! You are so thoughtful for thinking of ways to help your husband, and you’ve found an amazing thing to do! I hope it proves helpful on your journey towards inner healing! You’re so brave for sharing with us! I love your courage!
Marveling afresh at how much your story is mirroring my own. For me, 2012 was the year of letting go, clearing out, laying it all down. It started with a whole lot of physical decluttering and emptying out, but really, in the end, it was a year of loss that emptied out my soul and made room for God. It’s a hard, hard road, this letting go. But I can finally say this sure and strong that it’s been worth it. *God’s* been worth it. He always is, even when the journey costs us everything. Thank you for writing broken. It’s helping me find my voice again. May you feel our Jesus near tonight and find deep rest, if only for a little while.
Bonnie, I’m really looking forward to hearing the rest of the story, and I totally believe that God revealed something through it to you. Pruning is always hard, especially when we’re the ones being pruned. Two and a half years ago I lost nearly everything I owned in a freak accident. It was so difficult in many ways, especially because I was going through a very difficult treatment for a serious illness, and it felt like one thing on top of the other. But shortly afterward God showed me He was pruning things away so that He could lead me into a new life. I’m seeing this pattern again in my life: an accumulation of clutter with a serious need for pruning, and I only pray I can be obedient to prune those things that keep me further from Him. I hope this has been a blessed week for you! Thanks for hosting!
[…] Pull up a chair. It’s so good to have you, to listen as we share.Click to comment and read each other’s thoughts. […]
Bonnie, It would be wonderful to sit down with you & share a dish of fried rice & discuss how all the leftovers & bits & pieces blend into something totally great. Our lives seem to get unexpected curve balls thrown at us; but God is using all that “stuff” to make us better people. May God continue to teach you how beloved you are to Him & others.
I so appreciate your posts through your struggles. I’ve been there with my owns childhood ghosts to fight and recently with a long-term unknown illness to wander through. And, I know that in all things we are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus….only through Him! I’m presently doing a study at church entitled Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby that is oh so good. What I wanted to share (because it helps me put all the junk of the struggle in perspective) is a statement he made: We’re not made for time but for eternity! I’ve known this intellectually and even in my heart, but seeing those words in print (with his explanations) gave me a lightbulb moment. This world is NOT my home; I’m just a passin’ through….. It’s TRUE! My life here in “time” is what God is using to prepare me for eternity; He’s using it to make me more like Christ in preparation for what eternity will hold! And, in the meantime, as He grows me here in “time” (using all the junk in my circumstances and even in my heart), He’ll even use me to further His purposes and to bless others while I wait here in “time” on this side of eternity with Him. I love James 1:2 in the Message: “When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your life, my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders but welcome them as friends.” And, that goes along with what Blackaby is saying: God is using the now of trials and temptations (these intruders) to prepare me for the future when I’ll see that they’ve really been “friends”. Praise Him!
De-clutter and surrender the broken parts. That’s just what I am trying (need) to do. I long to go back to when I felt Him close to me and was able to hear His voice over the clatter of the world , and deafening noise of emotions . I have been going through my own PTS and at times it has felt as if I might drown ; but He places someone in my life to throw me a life line.
I love your open poetic beauty; living waters that flow through you.
Because letting go involves looking at what you’re holding onto.
Because sometimes, it’s time to say goodbye to what once gave you comfort,
so you can face the place of empty,
to surrender yourself to what your heart truly longs for.
Wow. I’ve honestly never, ever read a devotional Christian blog with so much raw insight. I reread that first line about ten times. Thank you so much for sharing this journey.
[…] I told you about one of those ideas that started to emerge into my thoughts, the way honey first drops thick and heavy into a cup of hot tea: clearing the clutter from my drawers. […]
I’m so excited to see how this unfolds! And I think it is an AMAZING “gift” to your husband–to not just buy him something or make him something…but to do something that would be meaningful to him.