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Simplify: My Lenten challenge

Simplify: My Lenten challenge
Photo by Kay Panovec, United Methodist Communcations

By Jessica Brodie

Lately, I’ve been struggling with an overwhelming urge to simplify my life. Clutter, which has always bothered me, now seems downright wrong. If I open a drawer and discover it is crammed full of junk, my first inclination is to grab a trashcan and start tossing. Even the amount of clothing I’ve accumulated seems wasteful and distracting.

A friend is doing Project 333, which is a minimalist fashion challenge where you dress with only 33 items over the course of three months. I’m not sure I’m ready for that, but I admire it fiercely. Another friend has chosen to live as though her house is up for sale—no items on countertops, everything streamlined and pristine. They just bought their house, mind you, and it’s not up for sale, but the clutter-free lifestyle works for them.

While decluttering your life can be therapeutic, I never realized there were scriptural ties until I started researching what The United Methodist Church says about Lent. And this evening, right there on the UMC.org Lenten resources website, it says clear as day: Lent is a season of the Christian year when people are invited to simply their lives to focus on their relationship with God in Christ.

Simplify. Declutter. Streamline. Ah, yes.

Reading those words, it occurred to me there’s perhaps been a deeper reason why I’m so called to simplifying right now. Perhaps in seeking to simplify I’m actually subconsciously realizing I have too much going on in life, too much mess, too much chaos, too much stuff, all getting in the way of what really matters: relationship with God and my fellow humans.

My husband has been feeling it, too. When we married in November, we combined two households and now have so much stuff we needed a storage unit. This week, somehow we both had the epiphany that getting rid of all our excess stuff was exactly what we needed to do. It’s pretty liberating.

Growing up, I somehow had the notion I was supposed to “give up” something for Lent—chocolate, red meat, you name it. But as an adult, I’ve come to realize it’s more about a journey that will draw you closer to Christ. Sometimes that has to do with sacrifice or a positive lifestyle change, but sometimes it’s just about the walk, about doing whatever it takes to focus on God.

And this year, for me, my Lenten buzzword is “simplify.”

As I journey through this season, I hope my walk with God results in a more meaningful relationship with Him.

The neater house can’t hurt, either.


  • If you haven’t read the book SEVEN, you need to. It has totally changed the way I look at stuff.

  • “Simplify: My Lenten challenge: is such an awesome post and so thought provoking.

    First I have not given up anything for Lent, yet. I thought about not buying any clothes for 40 days. That would be a great idea as I do not have room in my huge walk in closet for anything else. In fact it is no longer a “walk in” closet (it is a “throw in” closet) at this time. This all brings me back to folks including myself saying we try to pray each and every day. Well I do pray each day but it is not effective and purposeful prayer. I fit it in when I have a moment or two and I am usually multitasking at the time. I should not multitasking when in prayer. Clutter has taken over my life and interupted my time. In fact I have recently started dropping off committees at church because they were taking up too much time. Well I was on six committees as well as an ocassional monthly scripture reader and a greeter on ocassion. Oh my, I am going to give up clutter or at least make some aspects of my life clutter free beginning today. Thank you for your awesome insight which will help me focuss and get my life, including my prayer time, back on track! A friend in Christ, Pam Smith

  • Thank you for this view, what an awesome way to observe Lent and continue after Lent is over. Clutter seems to get in the way of lots of stuff. Clutter in ones life can lead to confusion, inability to focus on the task at hand , and overall meaning of what your relationship with Christ and others should represent. Leaders especially experience clutter and sometimes are not aware of how if reflects in their leadership. In everything we do we should keep Christ first and not ourselves and learn to recognize the strengths in others, even though Jesus could do it all he still utilized twelve disciples. So if you are a leader I encourage you to review your leadership style using the clutter free concept and ask for guidance to lead like Christ. I am currently a doctoral student specializing in leadership and after reading this post I discovered how applicable this may be to all leaders.
    Be blessed, Valerie

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