Part IV of the magic of tidying, a broad stroke of how sorting through old clothes reignited in me an awareness of what truly brings me joy and what I want to keep in life.
There’s plenty of clothes I do not love at all, but even though I don’t love them, or the color is off, or it’s totally last decade, it may fit comfortably, and it may let me be bloated and still leave the house with a teaspoon of confidence. That’s the practical side of joy. Its ugly, but it fits. How do I measure “joy” while sorting through clothes? Is the ruler how it feels, or how it makes me feel? Is it how others treat me when I wear it? Is it the way it fits or the way it looks? The way it looks on me or on the hanger? Is it the event I wore it to or the event I’d like to wear it to? I keep finding myself midway through piles of clothes, compromising, because I can’t define those answers and I can’t narrow it down to just one question. I hear this little voice inside, saying: “I don’t really like that, but …, the color isn’t great, oh well… it’s not really me… I should just keep it.” Marie is able to narrow it down to one simple rule, “does it spark joy?” yes or no?
Is this what I do with other aspects of life? Complicate them. How is joy measured in everyday moments if we are constantly compromising, ignoring what truly brings joy, with what is logical or practical. Is joy measured by what we say or do or how we feel and think? Who we spend our time with or what we spend our time on? Sometimes I can’t say no, I can’t figure out what I am going to keep or which friends I really want to invest, in or talk with, or which job I really like. I don’t know the measure, so I compromise, or I know it won’t measure up so I avoid the final assessment. There are many things in my keep pile of life that I secretly don’t want to keep like my job, or my hairstyle or my attitude, but they are practical. And then something awful happens when I always keep the practical…there is no room for the joy. Isn’t that sad.
Jesus came that our joy may be made full and that we could have life abundantly.
I think truly, madly and deeply I need to just look for that spark of joy in one day, not answer that question so that it universally covers my entire lifetime. Just one decision at a time, one fork full that’s what I can handle.
Sometimes I find myself looking at a shirt or pair of shorts and saying, that used to bring me great joy. So should I hold on to it? Does joy get old, and moldy like bread? Does it get stale and lose its potentcy? Can we store it away for a later date, or pull it out when we need a fix and expect it to be just as satisfying? No! We can’t store it, yes it gets rancid. Yesterday’s joy was for yesterday me. If all the joy we have is from another time, we will not have any room for today’s joy. When we find joy or have joy it’s so hard to let it go or move on. It’s like manna that we want to horde and save up, for rainy days. Maybe I feel that way because joy has come and gone so frequently in my life, I want to keep a little from the past just in case I might need it in a pinch for the future messes I get myself into.
The book talks about two things that prevent us from letting go, fear of the future and ties to the past. Yup, that is true. The fear of, what if I can’t afford to buy another one or what if I can’t find another one? For me I have a difficult time letting go of my children’s baby toys and books and things that remind me of them, or things they enjoyed. Being afraid of what the future may or may not hold creates uncertainty and insecurity, insecure people cling. What we really need to do is learn what brings us joy right now, today, in this moment not yesterday or tomorrow’s potential happiness.
Things change, things like how clothes look and fit, so don’t rap up all your joy in your clothes. Our joy will never truly be satisfied within that category alone. However, regarding clothes, if we can sort out which clothes bring us a little confidence, perhaps we can start to think about what activities we enjoy and don’t, which friends bring us happiness, and what thoughts and feelings are worth keeping, or what foods to choose which benefit our personal wellbeing.
But there is another kind of joy that is not like the manna that comes and goes, rots or fills. This joy comes from acknowledging the giver of the manna, because he never changes. The giver of the things which we need, food, clothes, shelter, life. If we can trust in him, rather than what he gives at any given moment, we learn to trust that whatever we need he will provide, we learn to stop looking to things to fill us, and just trust they will be there when we are empty. This brings great joy, because our fears and worries about yesterday disappear. He will be there when we are empty. God is the one who gives us today. Today is all we have. Focus on what makes you happy today, because it is God’s gift to us. We need to know the measure of joy today. Which means knowing yourself right now, letting go of the past, and trusting God with tomorrow, perhaps He is our real plumb line.