I like many others have gotten drawn into the new show on Netflix called, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. I devoured the eight part series and became inspired to clean out some of my closets and drawers. This new reality show walks different people through the process of tidying up their spaces in their homes. Marie Kondo, a petite Japanese woman, bouncily comes into people’s homes and gives people valuable strategies used to declutter and tidy their homes. Marie is an adorable human. She is cheerful, fun, encouraging, and respectful to her clients. I love how she treats people with dignity. She is never shaming and always finds a way to empower her clients and affirm things she loves about their home.
For many years (especially since having four children) I have been on a quest to declutter and organize the spaces in my home. I have learned that professional organizers add a lot of value to my life. I have gleaned many tips over the years, one being the value of “finding a home” for every item in your house. I am always looking for new tips and ways to be inspired to be more orderly and tidy.
After watching Tidying Up, and then listening to her book, The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up, I gained some helpful strategies. One tip that has been helpful is how to fold things and then place things vertically in your drawer so that you can see all your items in one glance. The other tip that I love is going through items one by one and asking the question, “does this item spark joy?” If not, then let it go! It is empowering to let things go, yet it can be so difficult at the same time. I am the first to confess my love of things. I love shopping. I love buying. I love finding fun treasures at garage sales. I have bought into the lie of our culture that buying one more thing will make you happy. I have to constantly fight against this lie.
The more things we have, the less we value anything. One of the things Marie teaches is that when we only keep the things we love, we will value them more and treat them with more respect. I love this philosophy. It affirms the truth that being surrounded by things we love and value adds meaning to our lives. However, I also walked away from Marie’s show and book with the knowledge that Marie is subtly inviting her viewers and readers into a spirituality that does not line up with my Christian beliefs. When Marie walks into a home she kneels down and has a moment of quiet meditation on behalf of the house. In essence, she prays to the house. She also advises her clients to thank each item for its purpose and use before letting it go. She treats inanimate objects as if they each have a soul. Allison Herman on the internet site, “The Ringer,” described Marie as “a Mary Poppins of inanimate objects instead of human children.”
As I read more about Marie, I learned that she has a spiritual background of Shintoism. Shintoism believes that the entire world is thought to be a conduit for energy and every material object holds its own special meaning. The Shinto Shrine, a place where Marie volunteered her time when she was younger, is a place where the spirit world and the physical world intermingle. Marie also refers to Animism. Animists believe that everything has a spirit and a spirit exists in the elements. After learning more about Shintoism, it helped illuminate more of the spirituals element behind Marie’s philosophy. She says, “the work of carefully considering each object I own to see whether it sparks joy inside me is like conversing with myself through the medium of my possessions.” She also says, “each step helps people forge a deeper connection with their stuff and by extension themselves.”
I cannot affirm or embrace the elements of Shintoism in Marie’s principles because of my Christian worldview. As a Christian I believe that the only ones with souls are human beings. I believe that God has created us in His image. I believe the only thing we should worship is Jesus Christ. He is the giver of all good gifts. He created order and light out of the darkness. In spite of our spiritual differences, there are a lot of truths that Marie teaches that I do affirm and ones that honor God. I honor the principle of treating my home with respect and giving thanks to God for the gift that it brings me and my family.
Before letting an item go I can be thankful for the use that it gave me. Instead of thanking the object, I can have an attitude of thanks for the object. For example, my oldest son gave me a mug that says, “Mom Rocks” when he was around nine years old. It gave me joy when he gave it to me, but I have been holding onto it all these years out of sentiment. It was sitting at the bottom of my bathroom closet because I didn’t know where to put it. With Marie’s guidance, I can now be empowered to give the mug away, knowing that the mug has served its purpose. I am thankful for the use the mug served for the time I had it. It may seem like a minor nuance between thanking the object and being thankful for the object, but I think it is an important one. As I let things go, it does have a spiritual effect. I have less guilt and more thankfulness to God for all that He has given me. I am thankful for what Marie has inspired in me. I am thankful for how she is imparting certain wisdom and truth based on her years and years of experience. I am thankful for the drive and inspiration I now have to go clean out one more closet!