Five Simple Steps to Declutter Guilt for Women
By Sherry Gareis
While men are the hunters and gatherers, women represent the multitasking nurturers. We have the innate ability to be everything to everyone – or at least go down trying. We comfort the hurting, assist the needy, cheer the underdog, love the unlovable, listen to the overwhelmed, and advise the confused. Is this what God expects from us? Yes…and no.
How can you hear God’s voice in the midst of a busy life when you’re being pulled in a dozen directions? You must declutter first! In Declutter Now!, a book I co-authored with my husband, we discuss how to declutter different areas of your life so you’re left with more time, energy, money, freedom, and (above all) joy. Women are particularly prone to acquiring unwanted clutter in relationships and with obligations. Unfortunately, I speak from decades of solid experience but I’ve learned from it, lived to tell about it, and feel blessed to share practical tips from my journey. If you’re a victim of this type of bondage, don’t despair. Increasing your awareness and taking action will turn things around in short order.
Step 1 – Understand God’s Desire for You
1 Timothy 3:11 tells us, “In the same way, their wives are women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.”
Temperate means showing moderation or self-restraint, and trustworthy is defined as able to be relied on as honest or truthful. Following God’s word means we are called to moderation – expected to be truthful. Yes, we are to be good and kind, helpful and supportive, but not at the expense of God’s other directives. You know the saying, “Too much of a good thing…”? Well, needless to say, it ain’t so good. Dismiss the world’s expectations and reflect on practically applying God’s word to your life.
Step 2 – Recognize the Problem
There’s no question we are called to mentor and serve, but to what degree and at what cost are considerations often overlooked? Serving God does not imply that you must be everybody’s best friend or personally cater to every need you encounter; quite the contrary is true. God has an army of servants and each person is called to a different purpose.
Imagine taking the concept of decluttering the unnecessary material things in your life and applying that same technique to your relationships and obligations. You can remove the unwanted and unhealthy so that there is more space and freedom for the priorities. Can you picture what this would look like? Have you ever walked away from a coffee date, event, or other engagement and felt like you just wasted the last few hours of your life? It doesn’t have to be this way. There is an alternative, and you have a choice. Consider where you feel most negatively impacted by guilt and obligation. That is your problem.
Step 3 – Declutter the Stinkin’ Thinkin’!
It’s time to declutter the ‘Stinkin’ Thinkin’’ that invades our heads, as well as the unhealthy relationships and negative commitments we allow to take up space in our lives. It’s time to take control and set the pace for joy and freedom with a direct, honest, and no excuses approach. It’s not embarrassing to be tired, cruel to respectfully speak truth, or selfish to have opinions about with whom you spend time and when.
Along with the personal gain, think about the witness you’ll provide for your children, family, and friends. Without question, you can be both a strong Christian woman AND a woman who sets boundaries. One does not negate the other. Uncover the source(s) for your negative attitude or victim mentality and face them head on.
Step 4 – Just say ‘NO’!
How would it feel to, without guilt, to say “NO!” even when your obligatory nature is screaming otherwise? Why does the simple task of saying no elude women? Why can’t we utter, “Sorry, but it’s not a great time for me,” or “Thanks anyway, but I plan to have a quiet day at home with my kiddos today”? Seemingly even more elusive is, “I’d love to help, but I’m exhausted and have too much on my plate right now.” Can you see the mouths dropping? To say ‘no’ is difficult enough, but to admit being overwhelmed as a wife and a mom or a business woman? That’s just shameful!
Allow yourself the liberty to say ‘no’ – and actually do it. Remember that sometimes ‘no’ is part of a bigger, better plan.
Step 5 – Declutter Now!
Are there times you justify your actions by resting on select portions of God’s word, yet ignore other crucial expectations and instructions? While we want to help, organize, serve, nurture, and comfort, we must also strive for obedience and live in the glory of his comprehensive word; it all counts and we shouldn’t just pick and choose what’s convenient. Yes, you just might offend someone by being honest or saying ‘no’, and there will be difficult and awkward moments, but being available to bring God your ‘firsts’, physically and emotionally, makes the journey worth every moment.
Declutter Now! proves that less can truly be more. Declutter the unnecessary, unwanted, and unhealthy and you’ll have more of all you need for yourself, your family, and most importantly, for God!
Sherry Gareis lives in Glendale, Arizona and is the co-author of Declutter Now!, available at most book retailers August 20, 2012. Learn more at http://ambassador-international.com/books/declutter-now.