By Alex Anderson, Senior Associate Pastor at Bayside Community Church
I’m not a packrat (I’m in denial) but I do tend to pile stuff in my study at home. After a few weeks have gone by I start feeling sluggish when I sit down to write. I look around the room and begin to feel overwhelmed.
I once blamed the sluggish, overwhelmed feeling on long work hours, but I noticed I’d feel the same way even after being rested from a few days off. So as usual, I took it to prayer and asked the Lord for wisdom.
I went through the usual suspects: not enough sleep, too much caffeine, too many carbs, not enough exercise, and the wrong time of day. I’m sure each of these were partially the culprit, but what I found to be the real thief robbing me of my energy and focus…was the piles of stuff. The room was full of unfinished business.
Things I had started, manuscripts of books I was writing or the beginnings of designs for changing our landscaping would all call my name as I sat down to work in my study.
As it turns out clutter affects us in very negative ways according to Dr. Sherrie Bourg Carter. In her article, Why Mess Causes Stress, in Psychology Today, she says, “Clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli…distracts us…makes it difficult to relax…inhibits creativity and creates feelings of guilt.”
Bam! She nailed it. That was what I was feeling. My simple solution was to declutter my study if I was going to write. It worked like a charm.
BUT there is a more insidious kind of clutter.
This clutter occurs when you have unfinished business with God.
When you hear the words “unfinished business with God” you might be thinking things like not forgiving someone for hurting you or not giving your tithe regularly at your church. Things that you aren’t doing that you know you should.
I call it heart clutter. This stuff can be deadly so let me explain.
Every one of us humans have God issues (including yours truly). Things that we either don’t understand about our lives and God, or maybe more importantly, things we do understand about our lives and God, but just don’t like or don’t want to accept.
I stood in a cold rain in a cloudy graveyard in Ohio this past year and watched a father’s heart get ripped to shreds as he stood staring at the grave diggers throwing shovels full of dirt on his 26 year old daughter’s casket.
After everyone else had left the gravesite he stayed to the very last minute to get a final glimpse of his ‘little girl’ before she was gone from his sight forever. He was beside himself with heartache.
That’s a God issue.
And if not dealt with, God issues can cause us humans to do some really scary things.
One of my personal practices is to get alone with no distractions and write my “list of concerns.” These are piles of stuff that have collected in my heart over the previous months that are important to my life, like my marriage and my children’s future.
After I patiently write the list and ensure it has all the things I am concerned about, I then review it again and put a circle to the left of the things I know I have absolutely NO Control Over.
The second thing I do is go over the list again and put a star by those concerns that I absolutely Have Control Over. I then rewrite these on a second page and as I do I mark through them on my first list of concerns.
The only items on my first list NOT marked through are the things I have No Control Over. I choose to give them to God and I imagine that God is taking them one at a time from me until the entire list gone.
As I see God take each concern, I mark through it until my original list of concerns are all marked through and I have no more concerns from that list. God has them and I’m good with that. It’s a choice not a feeling.
For the second list of concerns, the ones that I Have Control Over, I write the verses from Proverbs 3:5-6 (Google these) at the top of the page and then God and I get busy together on this list.
I highly recommend you do this and declutter your heart.
No more unfinished business with God.
To your spiritual health,
Alex E. Anderson
Senior Associate Pastor at
Bayside Community Church
Author, Dangerous Prayers