Sparking Joy: How Marie Kondo Revealed a Blind Spot in My Faith
I’m a mess, and I don’t just mean figuratively.
Coming home from a full-time job, while juggling school and a new marriage has kept me so occupied, I find it hard to regularly organize my things. My husband, however, is not, and because he spends a lot of his time at the house studying for classes and preparing for sermons, my cluttered chaos is an unwelcome distraction.
Perhaps this is what led me to watch an episode of Tidying up with Marie Kondo—a show that features a young, pleasant Japanese woman who helps “spark joy” by decluttering people’s homes. If you’ve been paying attention to the chatter surrounding this show, you’ll realize that Christian bloggers are quick to criticize and warn against Marie Kondo’s practices because they are based on an animistic worldview, believing that every object possesses a distinct spiritual essence. There is no question here. Kondo’s practice is simply wrong. You should not pray to your home or thank it for its “protection.” Your home has done nothing to protect or provide for you. It is an inanimate object. Everything you have – material and immaterial comes from the Lord (James 1:17).
However, while understanding that Marie Kondo’s worldview is fundamentally incorrect, is it plausible that her idea of bringing order into your physical world can cause spiritual benefit?
I decided to give it a try. I threw all of my clothes on the bed and began to sort through each one piece by piece. Instead of thanking the clothes, I chose to fold and hang each article of clothing while thanking God for His provision. I forced myself to verbally say each time: “God, thank you for this shirt, these shoes, or this coat.”
During this process, the Holy Spirit began to reveal some things in my heart that I had piled up like the clothes surrounding me.
- I had a serious problem with envy.
In a society that thrives on comparison and keeping up with the latest fashions and fads, we are constantly bombarded with advertisements from companies and even our friends as they try to promote the next best thing. I had found myself scrolling through photos, wishing my wardrobe matched what I saw on the screen and being discontent with what I already possessed. “Keeping up the Jones’” has now become “Keeping up with the Kardashians.” There is no limit to whom I can compare myself. Those times I spent scrolling, wishing for what I didn’t have? It produced bitterness and envy.
A quick search reveals that envy is defined by “a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck.” From the very beginning, the Bible makes it clear that desiring what others have is sin:
“Do not covet your neighbor’s house. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female slave, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Exodus 20:17).
Perhaps because our “neighbors” are on an iPhone screen and don’t live next door or interact with us, we think that our obsessive desire for their life is not an actual sin, but more of a way to inspire us to “live our best life.” It was at this moment that I realized that I was letting what the world defined as success influence my goals, dreams, and desires instead of Scripture and God’s desires for my life.
- My lack of organization prevented me from being a good steward of my resources.
Amidst the clutter and chaos, I discovered things that I had purchased that served no purpose and were never used. I grieved over what I could have done with the money I wasted on junk that had no eternal value. Had I been selfishly hoarding things in my home when I knew of brothers or sisters in need?
Scripture makes it clear that everything on earth belongs to the Lord, and we are simply stewards (Psalms 24:1-2). Had I been a faithful steward of what my God had entrusted to me? The clutter engulfing me revealed where my treasure had been placed.
Luke 16:10 says “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with very much.” I was given great opportunity to allow God to use my resources for His glory and instead I chose to spend it on worthless junk that didn’t “spark joy” in my life.
- Gratitude and generosity spark genuine joy.
Do you want to truly “spark joy” in your life? The answer does not lie in things. The apostle Paul shows that being content is not found in acquisitions, but a heart attitude:
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13).
Have you learned to be content today? Right now? With what you have in this moment? Many of us our living our lives searching for the next best thing to make us happy, yet never quite satisfied once we obtain it.
The secret to a happy life – a joyful life – is a grateful heart. When we develop a habit of giving thanks to God regularly, our eyes become opened to the abundant blessings we have already been given. Take some time to go through your things and thank God for His provision. You may just find that tidying up with Marie Kondo sparks joy after all.