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So Marie Kondo or The KonMari Method is the new fad – the view you can declutter your life, keep only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy. This concept has taken the world by storm. Marie Kondo has a Netflix show, Tyding up with Marie Kondo and has a #1 New York Times best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. She is highly rated by various news outlets and listed as Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people. That’s how far-reaching her influence is.
I also stumbled on this term “cleanfluencers.” It’s a term attributed to personalities on Instagram who share tips and ideas on how to clean your personal space. The power and reach of social media, coupled with Marie Kondo’s ideas have enabled the cleanfluencers movement to become so popular in recent months. In an interview on Mail Online, psychologist Emmanuella Murray explained that there is a perfectly good reason as to why people find looking at people’s clean homes satisfying. ‘We don’t like mess, it can actually make us feel quite stressed and overwhelmed,’ she said.
Personally, I prefer order, “obsessed” Jenny would say. I don’t like things lying around in our house that aren’t being used. Even if these are gifts from family and friends. I always impress on Jenny that someone else could put to good use those things. Every few months I clean up the house and get rid of things we aren’t using. Our house is clean and orderly, not perfect but clean and orderly. You will find less clutter in our home. The other day, Jenny walked a house help we intend to hire through our house, and she remarked that the house was relatively clean and organized.
Garden of Eden
Why are we so drawn to KonMari type of ideas? Here‘s why. We are attracted to such ideas because by default we are law creatures. We are creatures of performance. We have to do something. We want to be productive. Emmanuella Murray had this to say, ‘So if we’re clean and tidy we can feel calm and more productive, we can concentrate more, we feel a bit more organised because we have a little bit more time and we can even be a little bit more active and a bit healthier.’ Our need to be productive is actually, control. We want control because we lost all control when we were kicked out of Eden. In our heart of hearts, we seek to go back to Eden – the place where we were in control. We find the KonMari method and the cleanfluencers so appealing because they give us alternative routes back to Eden. They tell us it’s easy to get there if we follow their ideas, tips and how to’s.
From a gospel perspective, Marie Kondo AKA The KonMari Method, and the cleanfluencers are just other forms of the Law of Moses (Ten Commandments). The Law of Moses? Yes, absolutely. They look appealing and doable. And just like the Law of Moses promised blessings if you obeyed and curses if you disobeyed, when you apply all these ideas, tips and how to’s, you will beat your chest in pride because you dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s, or hang your head in shame because you couldn’t keep up. These are the only fruits of obeying the Law, in this case, the law of KonMari.
Religious and secular teachers have known for a long time that the deep underlying reason you have clutter in your life is FEAR – fear of poverty, failure, disapproval, rejection, Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO), etc. Yet we try by all means to ignore the fear and head straight to things or people who give us simple solutions to deep underlying psychological and emotional issues. The KonMari method changes your behaviour but doesn’t address the beneath-the-surface reason why you are a hoarder or untidy.
The only view in the world that transforms fear into ‘spark joy’ is grace. Transforming grace deals with the underlying reason (fear), gives you an identity that does not hinge on material things or people’s approval and transforms your character.
If you declutter your life using only the KonMari method, you will soon revert to your old habits because your heart was not transformed. Only grace transforms the heart and imparts new affections. Transforming grace helps you declutter your life and imparts the motivation to live clutter free.
As years have gone by, I have realized I could insist on order in our home as a LAW, making Jenny miserable, or I could order my home with grace and enjoy life. The latter is what I do. Grace has helped me order my home and enjoy my life.
Many opponents of grace say too much emphasis on grace leads to a license to sin (clutter). Nothing could be further from the truth. When grace is taught within its proper context, ‘grace creates the fruits and consequences of love. These fruits (the expression is from Paul’s letter to the Galatians 5:22-23) look like the law’s requirement…. They are, oddly and beautifully, expressions of the grace of God’, as Paul Zahl puts it in his magnificent book, Grace in Practice: A Theology Of Everyday Life.
I’m all for an ordered life and I’m also for a graceful life. The KonMari method will only and truly spark joy when it is tempered with grace.
That’s what grace looks like