Declutter Your Spiritual Junk Drawer, Too


What’s your tipping point for clutter?

I reached mine last week with my bathroom closet. It was overflowing with expired medication, raggedy towels, old plastic bags.

Clutter can be painful.

It’s mentally disconcerting to see a mess every time we open a door or drawer. It keeps us from finding and using the stuff we already own because we can’t get to it. And it makes it hard to add anything new because there’s no room for it.

Clutter messes not only with our physical space, but it spills over into our mental spaces as well.

My bathroom closet was a relatively easy fix (although time-consuming). No sentimentality was involved in throwing away rags (or giving them to Jeff for the basement). No gifts to discretely discard of. No dilemma about whether or not to keep the 1994 Sudafed sample (the only relic from the 90s, thankfully).


But getting rid of other areas of clutter isn’t so easy.

Sorting through the clutter of guilt is often the hardest part.

  • If I give away the gift that Aunt Susie (named changed!) gave me, is that dishonoring her memory?
  • If I throw away a lovely (albeit large) piece of artwork that my kids made, does that make me a bad parent?
  • If I discard half-opened bottles of lotion that I don’t like, is that being financially irresponsible?

The clutter of guilt weighs heavy.

“We gather our arms full of guilt as though it were precious stuff. It must be that we want it that way.”
John Steinbeck

But I don’t want to hang on to anything because of guilt, any more than I want to hang on to guilt itself.

Jeff and I started watching a movie Saturday night with intent to stop if it wasn’t interesting (I’m trying to declutter the DVR, too). The movie began slowly, had poor acting, and had a ridiculous plot.

We kept watching. Surely it would get better. It didn’t.

Two hours later, we couldn’t believe we had watched the whole thing.

What a waste of time that could have been spent better.

I felt guilty that we hadn’t stopped the movie earlier and used our time more beneficially.

More clutter of guilt.

Yet I know guilt is not ours to bear. We’re supposed to use it to change our ways, then let it go, not shove it on a shelf to keep around a few years.

God paid in full for our spiritual clutter, and whatever I’m storing of it needs to be released.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Romans 8:1

Just like I cleaned out my bathroom closet of its physical clutter, I need to continually clean out my spiritual junk drawers of clutter, too.

  • No lingering guilt.
  • No hidden grudges.
  • No unused gifts.

I need the space. Space to breathe, to grow, to love.

I’ve returned over and over to my bathroom closet the past few days just to marvel at its sparse shelves and clean floors. It brings me joy.

May I be equally grateful I can spiritually declutter, too.

* * *

Is anything in your spiritual junk drawer that you need to declutter? Please share in the comments.

34 thoughts on “Declutter Your Spiritual Junk Drawer, Too

  1. Linda Stoll

    Keen insight Lisa, as many of us have jumped on that decluttering bandwagon. Love your invitation to look at the time junk still cluttering our newly-neatened homes …


    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, I think we’ve read some of the same decluttering books out there, Linda. I’m currently reading for review both Unstuffed and The More of Less. I’m not sure I should have gotten them both at the same time though. ha. There may be nothing left in my house by the end of the month. 🙂

  2. Debbie

    Wonderful article Lisa and I’m a declutterer as well. One thing I have continuous guilt over is the fact I didn’t raise my son going to church and learning the word of God. He believes because I’ve always been a believer and have lived my life that way. My ex-husband wouldn’t go to church with me so I didn’t go. I have asked Jesus to forgive me more than once for this as I feel it’s my biggest failure. My son has grown into a wonderful young man and is full of love and kindness and would help anyone any time. I wish I could let it go 🙁

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I appreciate you sharing that, Debbie. I’ll be praying too that you’ll be able to release that guilt. We would all do things differently if given the chance, but thankfully God forgives us just as if we did it all right the first time. Your son sounds like an amazing young man and I know that God has a plan to direct him in His ways, with or without anyone else’s help anyway. 🙂 Blessings to you!

  3. bluecottonmemory

    I know that closet well – I open it and out pops, well, it’s like an evil spirit trying to steal my peace with guilt and failure. Right before I was hospitalized with pneumonia, I was trying to rest and breathe and not cough my insides out – and I thought about the stuff on tabletops and dressers, and clutter and not. I realized then that I needed to weed out because if something happened to me (I was septic when I entered the hospital due to continual misdiagnosis) – how would my husband and the boys know what to keep that needed passing down? Since March – and even after my surgery 6 weeks ago, I’ve been slowly weeding. It may just be a minor dent but its a start. I have a hard time letting go if someone gave me something, just like you describe. It feels like dishonor – and I don’t think its meant to be that at all.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      We’re on the same page, Maryleigh. I’m only slowly weeding, too, but every little bit counts. I want what’s left to be meaningful stuff so no one will look in my closets and drawers one day and think, ‘Good heavens! Why did she keep all that?’ ha. Letting go of things that belonged to loved ones is difficult for me too, but I have to remind myself that I’m not letting go of the person, and that’s what matters.

  4. Sharon

    Lisa, the true confession for me here is that I once was close to being a hoarder. I had *stuff* everywhere, and found it extremely difficult to get rid of anything. My husband lovingly helped me “dig out,” and I cannot believe the sense of relief that flooded me when I had empty drawers and organized closets, etc. Currently, my siblings and I are doing a similar de-cluttering at my mom’s house. I think I inherited her pack-rat genes!

    I can joke about it now, but out-of-control clutter is no joke. It can begin to rule your life, and steal your peace and contentment. It’s no different with the spiritual clutter. I am asking God to help me get rid of the anxiety-ridden discouragement that I seem to battle all the time. It’s just junk, and I would be very glad to empty it out of my soul.


    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I appreciate you sharing this, Sharon. I think most of us have a bit of a hoarder in us somewhere, maybe in ways that show up, maybe in ways that don’t. How brave of you to accept help in digging out. I tend to not want anyone else to mess with my mess! ha. My husband cleaned out our laundry room one weekend while I was away and I almost got angry about it instead of being grateful because I was fearful of what might have been thrown away. But he knows me well enough and kept anything in doubt. 😉

      But yes, I agree that clutter of any kind is no joke when it’s unhealthy. It’s a difficult stronghold to break for someone drowning underneath it.

  5. Joanne Viola

    Such a wonderful reminder of our need to declutter both our homes and our hearts. And truly, it always feels so wonderful after the work is completed. Glad to have stopped here today! Blessings!

  6. ~ linda

    Oh, Lisa…I am decluttering closets and drawers right now too. I had not even thought about doing the same for my spiritual clutter…of guilt. Time to ponder this, surely finding far more than I think will be there!
    Thanks for this timely reminder!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m usually surprised by what I find in both kinds of drawers, Linda—both physical and spiritual. I couldn’t believe how much more space I now have in my bathroom closet; hoping my heart is more spacious now too!

  7. saleslady371

    Hi, Lisa!
    I like your post about decluttering. It feels so good on a physical level to get rid of stuff and organize. I organized my pantry last week and did not guess at the grocery store if I need more gravy mix; I knew I had three boxes stored. In answer to your question about spiritual declutter, I feel I have to get rid of some painful memories that steal my joy not to mention my focus. Thank you for always helping us look to God and look within!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      It really saves us money to declutter, yes? 🙂 I’ve been meaning to buy a new make-up sponge at the store, but I’ve got a feeling if I’ll declutter one more drawer, I’ll probably find a bag full. ha. Good for you in decluttering your pantry! And that spiritual clutter—I like how you put it: painful memorizes that steal our joy and focus. May we clean that out as well. Thanks for stopping in, Mary.

  8. Susan

    Hi Lisa, such a timely and very good word.. I feel we are all on this journey to different degrees depending on our life stage..
    You have expressed it so well.. The lightness and freedoms we could feel if we allowed it.. And allowed God
    Thank you again for sharing the way you do

  9. TC Avey

    Reminds me that I need to truly believe 1 John 1:9.
    He forgives our sins. They are behind Him and they need to be behind me. Satan brings guilt. God brings conviction and forgiveness.

  10. Carly

    Great post! I love how you make the link between the physical clutter and spiritual clutter. It is so easy for guilt to be a motivation in both areas, but clearing it out is definitely the way to greater peace and freedom.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, guilt is such a confusing motivation. 🙁 I know we often ARE guilty, but we aren’t supposed to stew in it. Catch and release. Yes, clearing it out is definitely freeing! Thanks, Carly.

  11. Sue Donaldson

    great post, lisa – now, do i feel guilty bec I needed it so much?! or that I’m such a piler of stuff ? sigh. thanks for your encouragement -i’ll clear the guilt now and the clutter later! near you at Holly’s today.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Ha. It’s easy to feel guilty when I look at messes too that I still haven’t cleaned up in my physical spaces. I need to make a plan instead of feeling guilt. And in my spiritual spaces? I want to let God clean me up there too and let the guilt go! Thanks for your words, Sue.

  12. June

    Excellent post, Lisa! Personally, I believe a gift is a gift, and the recipient has the right to do anything they want with it, lol!

    Acting on the spiritual clutter is a little more challenging! My biggest guilt “trip” is that I usually {read always} feel guilty if I’m not doing something “productive.” Problem is, rest/self-care doesn’t make the productive list, even thought it should be near the top. Definitely an area to work on. Thanks, friend!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I need to take on your attitude, June, that a gift is a gift and once it’s given, no guilt should be involved in how the recipient uses it (or not). We’re alike in feeling guilty if we’re not being efficient. 🙁 But yes, rest/self-care in actuality IS productive in the long run because everyone needs it. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Lisha Epperson

    Something or someone lead me to your part today and all I’ll say is message received. Thank you for encouraging me to get busy with the spiritual de cluttering. This is right on time Lisa!

  14. floyd

    Excellent post and analogy, Lisa. “I need the space”. Yep. We’re called to let the clutter go. It’s a fine line, isn’t it? Now I’m in pondering mode… not sure if a thank you’s in order? !

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I need all the extra space I can get too, Floyd. I thrive on having open areas in the physical realm, so I apply the same to my spiritual realm too. Gotta keep space open for God to move! Hope you’re enjoying that sweet grandbaby!

  15. Jean Wise

    good reminder. I too reach that tipping point and go crazy then cleaning. But I have also learned to step by and assess at least annually what needs to be sorted and sifted – that include my calendar, commitments and spiritual walk. But everyone still has that infamous junk drawer someplace that never get done. I sure do!

  16. Lori Schumaker

    This has me thinking on so many levels. Levels of guilt. I tend to go through things often and get terribly stressed if I allow items to accumulate. I used to go through quite an enticingly battle because of it! It was all tied to my works based identity. The unused and expired items? I would feel guilt over being financially careless. The lotion? Wasteful. I have come so far and can laugh over the lost toothpaste at the back of the cabinet or the purposefully hidden trinket from Aunt Sally!? All because Jesus walked me through peeling off so many layers of healing. I know I’m a work in progress and my weak moments can turn back to those thorns, but God has taught me to keep my armor always on!! Loving free is so much better than being burdened by clutter!!

    Thank you, friend, for sharing this breath of fresh “hope” today with me at Moments of Hope!


    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I relate to what you’re sharing, Lori. It really is an emotional battle to even clean out a closet! This is beautiful motivation though: “Loving free is so much better than being burdened by clutter!!” Amen.

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