Joy and Imagination

I'm still chugging away at my "magical tidying" experience - and making lots of progress. I'm sure I'll talk about it more and give you total bags of trash/donations later but I wanted to talk about one of her main points, and it's critisicms, first.

Joy. Marie Kondo's method for when deciding whether to get rid of something is not if that items is used or has been worn in x months or anything like that, but simply to ask yourself if that item sparks joy. And one of the big criticisms that I see thrown out a lot is that it only sorta works because you can't throw out your toothpaste or laundry detergent just because they don't spark joy.

Now, I won't say that that there isn't any chaff to be thrown out from this book but every time I see that particular remark, I have to laugh. And yes, I've seen more than one person refer specifically to toothpaste and laundry detergent. After laughing, the next thing I want to tell this people is to go read Anne of Green Gables (and perhaps Pollyanna too) because they need to develop a better imagination!

But perhaps it's more than just a lack of imagination. Perhaps the meaning of joy is just as misunderstood in our culture as the meaning of love is. Joy isn't some magical giddy feeling I get when I hold something I like. I know that feeling (new soft tiny cloth diaper fluff!) and it's nice and it certainly makes finding joy easier, but it isn't joy. Joy doesn't come from giddiness, it comes from gratitude. That spark of joy comes from feeling thankful.

My understanding of her book is affected by my religious convictions and while I am fairly certain that Marie Kondo and I do not share those convictions, I do think we must share an understanding of what joy because I have no problems following her "spark joy" mantra. She's right - you should be thankful for everything you choose to have in your home.

And if you don't, there is a problem. Perhaps that problem is with your attitude and you need to go spend some time with Paul in the New Testament. And no judgement from me if that's the case. Let's just say there is a reason God called me to lead a study on Philippians - he wanted me to study it! But that's not to say it comes easily to me now either though.

I just finished reading both The Small Woman and The Hiding Place. Either book alone would have me feeling convicted about the lack of gratitude I show in my daily life - the combination was brutal. And at first they left me confused about whether I should be finding joy in material possessions at all. Then I realized, it isn't the objects themselves that are the issue, it's the choice to own things or not. That's really where we differ from so much of the world when it comes to material possessions - we have lots of choices.

And it's not more righteous of me to choose to keep things I don't need and then struggle (or fail) to be grateful for them when I can instead choose to be thankful those things were in my life and that I can now let them go. Yes, it's a bit kooky to send a text to your old phone thanking it for its service so that is one example of hers I won't be following, but I don't find it difficult to thank God for his provisions. In fact, I'm really enjoying it. I'm going through what I own, category by category, picking things up and choosing to have joy and to be grateful for what God has provided for us - the parenting book I learned a lot from but now that I have gained knowledge from it and grown in my parenting skills, I can pass on to someone else. The clothes that kept me warm and cozy that I can now donate with the hope that someone else can be kept warm and cozy. And after a season of struggling to find joy and being frustrated by my failure in that area, all this practice has been a great blessing (and one I'm grateful for :-)

 So while the "Spark Joy" idea may not be helpful to others trying to tidy (aka declutter), it's been the key for me to finally get that last bit of stuff out of my house.

The ugly cardboard box of needles and progesterone in my closet that makes me cry on a twice weekly basis - no giddiness there. But joy? Yes! Joy in the knowledge that God has provided doctors to help my body do its best to grow a strong healthy baby. It stays, no question (at least until that strong healthy baby makes his/her appearance - then I'll have a lot of joy in dumping it all in the trash!).

Those few dresses of my mom's that I have had for three years and could never bring myself to get rid of? The one I took from her closet to wear to her funeral? The yellow outfit she wore to my wedding? There are a lot of emotions in those. But joy? No. I have joy when I see the picture in my wedding album of her wearing that dress. In fact, I don't even need the photographs, I have several vivid imagines in my head even without them that always make me smile. But the dress itself. No, it's gone and I haven't looked back.

Does it spark joy? It's not that hard if you have a bit of imagination.

1 comment :

  1. I love this approach of looking at the spark of joy coming from gratitude. I read (and implemented) her book, but struggled with whether items were 'sparking joy' or did I just need them regardless. The 'gratitude' being the joy really clarifies it!