Sparking Joy & Shunning Fear
By SueAnn Shiah
Day 1 of 6
“The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.”
“But when we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.”
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
-2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)
When I sat down and watched Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix a few months ago, I was sucked in immediately. I had heard of Marie Kondo before; her book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up had been making the rounds amongst my family and friends from church, and my best friend gave me her cynical take on it.
I have always had issues with the whiteness and economic privilege embedded into many approaches to minimalism. Then I watched Marie Kondo’s Netflix series, realized it was not about minimalism, and was struck by the fact that I was seeing something I had never seen before in a reality “lifestyle” series. In shows like Hoarders, True Life, or My Strange Addiction, I saw people shamed for their debilitating habits. On Tidying Up, I saw what I knew was pastoral care—a woman sitting with people, showing them how once they prioritize joy, they release themselves from possessions kept only because of fear.
When I was younger, I had a “disaster backpack” that I tried to fill with all the things I could possibly need (water bottle, pocket knife, Bible, first aid kit, etc.). I used to carry this bag around with me everywhere. My aunties and uncles would make fun of me and crack jokes, asking if I really needed to carry that heavy thing around. When I was twelve, the backpack did not feel so heavy, but lately—at twenty-seven years old—I now have lots of lower back pain. I started to leave my heavy bag at home on short trips and noticed my back pain had lessened.
Maybe in the beginning, our disaster backpack of fear does not feel so heavy, but over time it will take a toll on your spirit, mind, and body—just like it did mine and all the families featured on Tidying Up. The heavy stuff we carry with us can create a barrier to self-care. Every once in a while, it is good to sit down, go through the backpack of your life and decide if you really need to carry around everything you have grown accustomed to keeping packed and ask: Am I keeping this because of fear and anxiety or because of joy?
Over the next few days, this devotional will explore these themes and what the Bible has to say about hoarding, our relationship to physical things and how they influence our spiritual and emotional lives. Pray that God will open your body, your eyes, and heart to the unnecessary things you are holding onto in your life because of fear—is it a person or relationship, a job, a church, a physical object, lifestyle, or a way of thinking (theology or ideology)? Observe your life and the things you interact with on a day to day basis, if something gives you anxiety, take note. If something gives you joy, take note.