Tidying Up Your Mental Health, Part Two

by: Cris Corzine-McCloskey

Attention all of you who have Haunted Hoarder House Brain: This week we are using the star of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo’s, ideas of clutter control and applying it to our mental health. Ms. Kondo’s theory is if an item does not “spark joy,” get rid of it. With that in mind, we are going after all the fears, grudges, offenses and resentments we have built up in our brains because we know they aren’t sparking joy.

First, we must commend our brains for all they do. In the Bible, God tells us we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” He wasn’t kidding. Our brains are able to simultaneously store birthdays, anniversary’s, business meetings, and grocery lists, plus, a plethora of memories, all while learning new information each day. So give yourself a high-five, because you are amazing! Now, in an atmosphere of loving self-acceptance, you are going to get quiet with God and ask Him to show you your junk pile. The 12-steppers call this process “taking a fearless moral inventory.” It’s healthy, but it’s hard.

Just like Adam hid his nakedness behind a fig-leaf, we hide our shame and hurt behind forced smiles, defensiveness, and grudges. We need to be willing to let that stuff go to have real joy in our lives. But God is the only one who knows why you are hoarding the unhappiness. If we don’t understand why it is nearly impossible to give it up.

When I’ve been hurt and am unwilling to let it go God has graciously shown me my refusal to release the pain is rooted in fear, disappointment, and a lack of trust. He showed me my disappointment was in Him for not protecting me the way I thought He should have. So I’ve been afraid to let things go because I feel I have to protect myself. Therefore, my pain is actually more rooted in my unwillingness to trust God than in the hurt dished out to me by a human. He has also shown me I don’t know how much He loves me because if I did, my identity would be more rooted in Him than it is in man’s opinions and rejections of me.

Now I realize I don’t have an unforgiveness problem as much as I have a fear problem. Since “perfect love casts out all fear,” my answer is found in receiving God’s love and learning to trust Him. That empowers me to try to let go of my pain and take tiny, fledgling steps of trust in God’s goodness. Because at my core I believe He is good, even when my circumstances, or the way people treat me, is not good.

Just like Ms. Kondo has her families thank their non-joy-sparking items before putting them on the discard pile, we must treat ourselves with respect when we discover the secrets behind our painful hoard. In our attempts to keep ourselves, and our world safe, those items have served a purpose. But now, in the interest of joy and future growth, it is time to start letting them go. We are only able to do that when we trust a loving God will be there to protect us once we let down our defenses.