We took our Christmas tree down on Saturday. While I love the twinkling lights and cozy, festive atmosphere I am not crazy about the clutter.

Every year we are usually the last family within our friends and family to put up the tree and decorations. The running joke in our home is our smattering of Charlie Brown Christmas trees. We never quite know what poor tree will end up occupying the space of our already modestly sized living room. My husband likes to save money, and by that I mean he’d really prefer to never spend it. His frugality is actually a necessary quality since it balances out my Oprah like spending tendencies. I love to give and our bank account would prefer if I just simmer down a smidge on the generosity.

Each year Jeff heads off to a tree lot, (or a few), with at least one child in tow to select the coveted greenery. We never know what we’ll end up with. Will it be short, skinny, fat, lopsided, sparse, flat on one side? One thing I am sure of is that my husband takes pride in his ability to find the best, reasonably priced shrubbery and waiting to wrangle the imperfectly perfect tree gives him some peace.

The first year of our marriage, there may have been some huffing and puffing on my end regarding our tree. Since then I have grown to not only love our misshapen trees, but am always excited to proudly display our awkward little trees, front and center in the living room window for the rest of the neighborhood to admire.

Soon after Christmas, I am ready to tear the beloved tree down and clear the clutter. Like I said earlier, I am not clutter crazy. In fact, I have a visceral reaction to clutter, especially in the kitchen and living area.

Our home is pretty small, and while we love our space it can become full of clutter quickly. In no way am I a nut about cleaning all the time, however, on any given day you can find me hovering behind various family members asking them to put something away, usually phrased as, “where does this live?” followed up with a piercing glare.

Clutter drives me mad. It gives me anxiety and causes unnecessary stress. This year, I was momentarily sad about taking down the tree because I love the glow of the lights at night. That lasted about 10 minutes and I had the tree down so fast that by the time my husband asked if I needed the tree taken outside I was already covered in sap and sweeping up the needles that fell from dragging the small, rotund beast to the curb myself.

With everything put away for next year and a quick tidying I stopped and took a deep breath, letting the comfort and peace of an open space wash over me.

How do you feel about clutter? Does it give you anxiety like me, or do you hold onto everything as if it’s coveted treasure? Some of you may feel indifferent but are hard pressed to remove the clutter when time comes.

Right now is about the time the New Years resolution squad start to fall apart. Some are holding fast, others are finding excuses, and some have already thrown in the towel entirely. One of those recurring resolutions is often a pact to declutter or jump on the ever popular minimalization train. What seems like a simple task is often difficult because that possession in question has become more than just a thing. We tie emotions, events, and people to those items making it difficult to throw or give away because we think we’re throwing them away with it. Or we rationalize the usefulness of an item, because we might use it later. (Those jeans you’ve kept since high school can be donated. Here’s your sign to let them go.)

We don’t need things. That snow globe from your great aunt Esmerelda is great, but it’s not her. It’s just a thing and sure things are fun. It’s not the thing that’s the problem, its the power we allocate to it. At some point we have to stop letting all the things of the world clutter our hearts.

So many of our hearts and our faith have become cluttered with not only things, but outside noise of the media, politics, illness, hardship, trends, social media, etc, that we are crowding out what we truly need. Our world is full of anger, anxiety, stress and frustration because we’re allowing the world to clutter our lives and crowd out the peace, comfort, and hope God has already given us.

But just for a moment we’re distracted by the twinkling lights. We find temporary comfort in things, media, politicians, and like minded hive mentalities.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on Earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21

Everything of this world is temporary. There is only one constant and that is Jesus Christ, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit. No matter what this life throws at you, no matter what or who fails you, even if you lose everything tomorrow, one thing never changes. God is with you always. Everything else is noise.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23: 1-4

If you remove the clutter, what remains? If taking the clutter out of the picture gives you anxiety, I challenge you to consider why. Stop giving that item, person, or outlet power because when push comes to shove, it won’t remain standing in the end.

My living room may look empty to my Christmas loving friends, but I have space to live in again. We cannot possibly have room to grow in a place we’re continually filling with junk, nor can we think clearly if we’re submerged in incessant noise.

I hope you can have the courage to clear out the clutter and breathe again.