Does it Spark Joy? Getting Obedient with Possessions


With all of the hype surrounding Marie Kondo’s well-known book and Netflix show about tidying and decluttering, we’re exploring what ‘decluttering’ could mean for our Christian walks with Jesus. Today’s post is written by Sarah Schilling, InterVarsity Study Abroad Employees who lives overseas in Paris, France. 

I lived back property for an embarrassing quantity of time right after grad college.

This wasn’t some sensible selection to allow me to spend off my student loans. This was dire necessity. This was a failed tech startup and a aspect-time job at a doggy daycare not specifically getting the adulting dream come correct.

I didn’t have revenue to invest in groceries or furnish an apartment, and it was unnecessary to do so anyway. No have to have to pull out the credit card at Bed, Bath, &amp Beyond when Mom’s turned your childhood bedroom into a guest area with a rustic-rose motif (not seriously my jam, but neither was homelessness). No have to have to binge watch from your telephone when Dad’s got far more than one particular flatscreen…and he’s paying for the Netflix account.

When I lastly got my personal apartment nine years later (told you it was embarrassing), I was thrilled to opt for dinnerware at Target. Almost all the things I had in that apartment was a hand-me-down, but that matching set of plates and bowls was mine–all mine. They meant I was paying for and cooking the meals I ate off of them. They meant I was free of charge to have good friends more than for a meal anytime I wanted, without the need of worrying that my pajama-clad father would stroll into the area. They meant independence.

These plates and bowls have been the hardest issue to give up two years later when I sold all the things. I had to sell all the things, simply because I was moving to Paris on a missionary spending budget.

Über-planner that I am, I went spreadsheet crazy cataloging what I would sell, donate, or trash. As I did, I became conscious of several levels of attachment to my belongings.

A handful of hundred dollars for my mattress? Buh-bye, bed! Seeing a pal rocking one particular of my dresses in her personal style? Upcycling for the win! The ratty slippers my dearly departed Golden Retriever applied to carry about as a “present” for me? Should’ve been thrown out ages ago!

Even even though I knew the Target dinnerware had to go, it had a bizarre hold on me. And I had to speak to God about it.


For nine years, dependence on other individuals had been a painful and continual reminder of my failure to launch. Just after surviving that excruciating season, the two years I spent in my personal location have been an massive present. It felt like God was asking me to give that up, however providing me the unknown in exchange. Some thing as very simple as dinnerware symbolized what was holding me back from completely based on him.

I had to unclench my spiritual fists and confess that autonomous adulthood wasn’t what must define me. Getting a beloved youngster of God must. God was asking me to trust that he and the physique of Christ in my future property would be there to catch me when I took this leap of faith.

With the downsize for Paris, God shifted my viewpoint of dependence as private weakness to dependence as a option to trust in Jehovah Jireh, the Lord who supplies.

So, I took a photo of the plates and bowls, and added it to my Facebook sale. Two weeks later, I moved to Paris with just two suitcases and a carry on.


My very first apartment in France was shared with two flatmates. The only space to contact my personal was my 12’ x 12’ bedroom/workplace. It was sparsely furnished, and the futon stopped unfolding all the way right after 3 weeks. Voilà: my very first adult obtain abroad was a sofa-sleeper purchased off the French equivalent of Craigslist!

Ironically, through my prayer occasions early on in France, I sensed God encouraging me to “m’installe bien” (settle in properly), each in terms of decorating my space and establishing a neighborhood. With this exhortation, nonetheless, came hesitation: Could I seriously justify acquiring an location rug on my salary? What if I nailed photos up on the walls only to be swept back to my parents’ home simply because my fundraising fell quick? Not even two months passed and I currently necessary to re-up my trust.

Off I headed to obtain throw pillows, an finish table, lamps, and frames. My obedience to decorate was a implies of producing a welcoming space for the neighborhood God brought my way. Even even though my plates didn’t match and a person typically had to sit on the floor, I was capable to invite acquaintances more than and watch God transform them into good friends.

Owning possessions became about stewardship rather than proving I was an adult. The divine invitation this time was to be attentive to what God may well be encouraging me to personal and how it could serve other folks and purposes.

Two years into French life, it was nevertheless a struggle. On a weeklong pilgrimage to Taizé final summer season, I actually had to pray and journal about acquiring a set of mugs. That may well appear intense, but it turned out to be an invitation to freedom in Christ. I didn’t have to have the mugs, but they have been attractive and handcrafted by the monastic brothers, and I wanted them. I sensed God was inviting me to invest in a thing I would delight in. The added bonus was that the mugs are applied through prayer occasions with my new prayer partners in Paris.


Now, practically 3 years in, I’ve lately moved to a new apartment and, hallelujah, I’m on my personal once again! I was capable to move by way of suitcases this time about also. My landlords (good friends from my Parisian church) left the apartment equipped with most issues I have to have, like their plates and bowls.

In this new season and space, I do not have to accumulate issues, not just simply because they’re currently right here, but simply because the invitation now seems to be about “living simplicity,” as says Franciscan scholar Chantel Fouchi. Rather than living just, which describes a life-style, living simplicity is a life-style. Like stewardship, it is about seeing all the things as a present from God and acting as even though it is. It is about winnowing down to what’s necessary to carry out God’s will.

Pretty usually what’s necessary is not far more issues, but far more like. Appreciate for creation: I’m attempting to go zero waste and take benefit of compost bins. Appreciate for folks: I invite my entrepreneur good friends to cowork, students for meals, and church good friends for prayer and worship. Appreciate for God’s purposes: for me, this implies continually submitting to God’s program, irrespective of whether I keep in France or move back to the U.S.

Proper now, I think I’m nevertheless supposed to “m’installe bien” and seek God’s Kingdom come in Paris as it is in heaven. But that could modify. Regardless, if I’m not tied down by physical issues or how they define me, I’m free of charge to like who and how God shows me, right here or anyplace.


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