By Courtney Ellis – Author of Uncluttered
A few years ago I was constantly on the edge of a panic attack, burdened by too many possessions, a bursting schedule, and constant digital connectedness. Today God is teaching me to enjoy him–and life–much more by having and doing less. What difference does seeking the virtue of Christian simplicity make? All the difference in the world. Here are five reasons to let go of clutter in 2021.
1. It’s far easier to find what you need when you need it
I used to joke that it was awesome I was so disorganized because when I found things I’d lost, it was like getting new stuff all the time. “Oh look!” I’d chirp. “My favorite socks! $5! That library book from 2004!” Yet being disorganized is suuuuuuuch a pain. No one likes hunting for car keys while running late. It’s a near-disaster when I can’t find a travel mug for my coffee in the early hours.
As my family and I pared down our possessions, I quickly discovered that I spent much less time hunting for missing items, which left much more time for the living of life.
2. There’s more time and space for creativity
A dear friend at church painted a gorgeous landscape for us a couple of weeks ago, to hang in our home. It was so exciting to say, “I know JUST where we can hang this!” instead of, “Oh gosh, what are we going to have to get rid of so we have somewhere to hang this?” There’s a reason a blank canvas is so inspiring. Anything can happen. When our calendars have gaps, when our shelves have room, when our digital devices are turned off and put away, new ideas can percolate.
3. You begin to experience people more like friends and less like burdens
I used to snap at people who asked me to lunch. Seriously. (What a jerk, right?) How dare someone ask me to lunch? I WAS BUSY! With breathing room in the schedule, people begin to seem like what they are–friends, neighbors, family, prayer partners. When our schedules aren’t maxed out, we can begin looking at relationships as opportunities for joy and blessing, for depth and wisdom, and yes–for even a lunch date or two.
4. Rest feels restful again
When was the last time you felt really and truly rested? Our digital devices can all too quickly steal what would otherwise be restorative downtime. When we respond to every ping and tweet and push notification on our phones or tablets or computers, we give away our time in teaspoons. Each one might not seem like much, but over time they can drain away all the restfulness God seeks to give us during the course of a day and leave us exhausted and wondering why. When we set boundaries around our digital devices, they become tools to use rather than tools that use us. Keeping technology in its proper place helps allow us to unwind our wired minds. It’s been a game-changer for my husband and me to embrace a “tech Sabbath,” a day each week when we turn off our phones and computers in order to read, worship, play, and rest.
5. The still, small voice of God becomes ever easier to hear
If we are slaves to our stuff or our calendars or our smart phones, we cannot also be fully devoted servants of God. Scripture is clear–we cannot serve two masters.
Yet there is Good News! Jesus invites us to walk with him, practicing the virtue of Christian simplicity, where we find freedom from the burdens of stuff and schedule. We can learn to live with less, to say no, to turn off the screens and follow God anew. When we stop and listen, God is faithful to guide.
Courtney Ellis, author of Uncluttered, is the associate pastor for Spiritual Formation and Mission at Presbyterian Church of the Master. She holds degrees from Wheaton College, Loyola University of Chicago, and Princeton Theological Seminary, and has been published in Christianity Today Women. She is a sought-after speaker for leadership and women’s retreats, MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers), and young adult ministries. Courtney resides in Southern California with her family.
Too much stuff. Too many activities. Too much exhaustion. Too much stress. How can we sift through the busyness, the mess, and the stress to uncover the abundant life God offers? In Uncluttered, one woman shares her journey from a life of stress, stuff, and burnout to one of peace, space, and fulfillment. You’ll learn tips for paring down your possessions, simplifying your schedule, and practicing the ancient art of Sabbath.
Uncluttered is not a formula about what “stuff” you need to give up. It’s about slowing down long enough for God to remind you of his truth and what it means to be his child.
With humor, wit, and wisdom, Courtney Ellis covers topics like:
- Stuff: Why more is not always better
- Technology: How to ‘turn off’
- Schedule: How to say no
- The Secret of Simplicity
- Sabbath: Receiving the gift of rest
- Uncluttered Kids: Simple, soulful parenting
Uncluttered ushers you towards a lifestyle of holiness and joy in the Lord. Author Courtney Ellis’ sharp wit, clever humor, and profound insights will not only take you on an exciting journey through her walk with the Lord, but will also lead you to uniquely experience yours. Find out what happens when you simply put God first.
Paperback, approx. 220 pages, 6 x 9 inches. ISBN 978-1-62862-791-6.