The Un-Konmari Mindset
Remember when “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo first became a big trend? I saw so many people devouring the book, restyling their homes and relationships and lives, and singing praises of this new clutter free method. I heard and saw a lot of questionable things about this method and didn’t follow up by reading it myself, but I wrote this note on my phone,
“The idea that what doesn’t bring us joy- we toss out. That doesn’t work in the family of God.”
Now Marie is back with the power of Netflix-and-anything-but-chill! We have to purge all the things, refold all the closest and drawers, and simplify everything once again (because apparently in the short span of two years everyone un-Konmari-ed their homes, relationships, and lives in true American fashion!). As I see post after post of friends claiming to have been “Marie Kondo-ed”, I keep thinking how skewed our definition of joy has become and how this minimalistic mindset isn’t always too different from a materialistic mindset. With both, our focus is on items and building our worth and can quickly turn to pride. Neither is the Christian way.
First, let me give you a passage of Scripture that I’ll break down into a few common themes I’ve seen people use to Konmari their lives. Romans 12: 13, 16-18 says, “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality… Live in harmony with one another… Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”
“Seek to show hospitality.” This is a biblical principle that has thankfully been given attention in recent years. Hospitality is opening oneself and one’s resources to the aid of others. We are all called to show hospitality to others, but it may look differently. One common way to show hospitality is to open your home for meals, shelter, or meetings. How does this relate to the modern mindset of minimalism? We applaud tiny houses, less materialism, and ridding ourselves of excess. In Christian circles, we are reminded that Jesus told his disciples not to have a second cloak or pair of sandals and to trust the Lord for provision of food and shelter. But in order for these disciples to have shelter, there must be those who have shelter available to give. There must be those who are able to show hospitality. In the body there are those who go and those who send. Let us not idolize minimalism in itself, but seek the joy of the Lord in His call over our lives.
“Never be wise in your own sight.” Conversely, let us not idolize material possessions, but steward our possessions so they can further the Kingdom of God. We are commanded to practice stewardship in our lack and in our plenty. Whether God has called us to the life of minimalism or a life of moderation, let us not roll our eyes at the other. Let us not create divisions or hold lofty views of our own position, but build each other up in the ministry the Lord has given us. For more on this topic, read Romans 14:13-23, but here we will highlight verse 17, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
“Live in harmony with one another… Live peaceably with all.” Back to my original note on the Konmari method: Removing those people who do not “spark joy” in our lives does not work in the family of God. I have seen many believers (and some Christian leaders) give a pass to people who feel the need to Marie Kondo relationships out of their lives. We’re not talking about situations of abuse or even toxicity, we are talking about relationships that simply do not “spark joy”. We all have those people who just get on our nerves, right? Maybe it seems like all they do is complain. Maybe they are constantly bragging over their latest accomplishment, even if that is merely taking another perfectly angled selfie. Maybe we simply are allowing our own personal envy, jealousy, or conviction get the better of us and instead of lifting up the praise hands for our sisters, we are scowling and giving them a mental thumbs down. In those situations, is our own personal feeling of “joy” (which really means self-fulfillment or happiness) worth cutting off an extension of the body of Christ out of our lives? Does this action elevate or limit the power of the body of Christ? Why this command to “live peaceably with all”? See Romans 15 for a full explanation, but verses 5-6 say, “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is not the path of least resistance, this is not easy street. Dealing with other humans is difficult, but our God is the God of endurance. In our own power we are insufficient, but with Christ we have full sufficiency to love one another.
“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.” The entire thought process to the KonMari method revolves around joy. But the world’s view of joy in sadly incorrect and misguided. Click here to read more about what joy is and what joy is not. We find joy in becoming more Christlike. In my experience, becoming more Christlike doesn’t happen because everything in my life brings me happiness, everyone I interact with is just like me, or I am living in a “perfect” world I have created for myself. I have learned that becoming more Christlike is a process of selflessness and service, discomfort and desiring God, and seeking true joy that can never be found in earthly relationships or belongings. So in this process of becoming more Christlike we have no other option than to show mercy and grace to those around us, rather than retribution. We will live honorably because we are allowing Christ to fully come alive within us.
One last thought on living in an un-Konmari Mindset: Don’t forget to hold onto your Ebenezers. The first time we see the word “Ebenezer” in the Bible is in 1 Samuel 7:12, “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, ‘Till now the Lord has helped us.’” The word “Ebenezer” means “stone of help” and we see time and time again in the Scriptures where the people would set up stones of remembrance when the Lord did a mighty work. We too have Ebenezers in our lives. There were periods in my life of which I am not proud. During those seasons the Lord did a mighty work of transformation in my heart. Pictures and mementos from these times might not spark memories of joy, but they should spark memories of God remaining faithful, just as He said He would. I hold onto these items as a tangible reminder of when the Lord worked to overcome deep rooted sin issues in my life. When I lack faith or when I am filled with doubt, I can look to these Ebenezers and am filled with hope because I have seen God move before and I know He can and will move again. So do not be quick to toss out the old, painful memories. These do not have to be shame inducing or guilt ridden but serve as reminders of the work of the Lord in and through your life.
Maybe the Lord is calling you to a life of minimalism. Maybe you struggle with materialism and you need an aid like Marie Kondo to reset your lifestyle. But do not fall prey to her misconception of joy. Do not elevate her methods above the Lord and His paths of righteousness. Do not become so consumed with the physical that you disregard the spiritual. Live in the un-Konmari mindset and seek the true joy of the Lord, which is your strength.
Read another great article on the power of distraction here.