Ashlie Miller: Carefree but cluttered

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 15, 2024

By Ashlie Miller

As mentioned last week, we can sometimes overlook beautiful things around us — like the plums we did not notice growing on a tree in our yard. However, we can sometimes overlook and neglect things that do not bring beauty or no longer contribute to our lives — things that may keep us from growth, harmony and peace.

One of my older sons, JT, has been making the most of having a room to himself while his older brother is serving at a camp this summer. He is good at keeping his space well-organized. Still, he is also a teenager, and like many his age, his space can get cluttered with trash, things that need to be returned to their proper place or items that no longer contribute to this stage of his life (does a 16-year-old still want the toy or shirt from 6 years ago?). While cleaning, he had an epiphany. While discussing our day during our family devotional bedtime routine, he mentioned his hard work and frustration at himself for the things that kept his room messy. He spoke of how it gave him time to ponder how little things add up and get in the way of a peaceful atmosphere. “I wonder what things I have let clutter my heart?” he commented.

It is challenging to live a truly carefree life and not have some order, isn’t it? Sure, the idea of a carefree life may sound like living unencumbered by rules, order, limits and responsibility, but living this way is chaotic, without peace, harmony or true beauty. Perhaps some of the beauty in our lives is obscured by this chaos and figurative trash of worthless pursuits or past passions. We may label them as petty or trivial — “It’s just an old habit, part of my personality label, part of my past that I cling to, it has become my identity.”

What then? Well, in my son’s case, it is time to do deep cleaning, literally moving objects to discover trash and dispose of it properly. In doing so, we find treasures and delights, perhaps. But even if not, cleaning and resetting the environment makes for a new sense of purpose and restart. In the case of our heart, it can mean pruning things back, much like a plant, so that fruit can flourish or crushing besetting sins so that we can run the race unfettered by weights that pull us down (see Hebrews 12:1).

We can take a practical look at our daily surroundings to live more simply and more fully, whether it is taking out garbage or donating things that are no longer of help to us — as long as it would not be a vice for the next person. We can ask of our hearts: What do I cherish and cling to that has not been healthy for me spiritually? Is this thing drawing me closer to God and His will for me or closer to my inward self — the person I want to cultivate of my own will? In one case, we will freely rid ourselves of the vice, though it will likely be painful initially. In the other case, we will justify and reason our keeping of the clutter, which may move us towards where we think we want to go but ultimately keep us from where God wants us to be.

Are you up for the challenge?

Ashlie Miller is busy decluttering cabinets and those “it’s never gonna happen” projects this summer. You can email her at

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