Marie Kondo and Misplaced Gratitude

Here is the photographic evidence that I owe Marie Kondo a thank you note:

Roy G. Biv is in the building.

This is my husband’s t-shirt drawer. Over the course of our marriage, this is a space that has often been a source of calamity and compromise, dispute and discord, hoarding and helicoptering. But now, you see, he is drinking the Kool-Aid out of perfectly color-sorted packets. He even reports he “likes it” as he can see what shirts are available and clean. (I’m not rolling my eyes…I’m just looking at my eyebrows.) All this after just a couple YouTube videos. But let’s go back.

A month ago, I was laid up with the flu. Like, off my feet sick. This was very uncomfortable for my husband who was down a teammate and therefore entirely responsible for the feeding, watering, and ponytailing of two small girls for a full three days, and maybe slightly only less uncomfortable for me, laid up on the couch, focusing on keeping both my Netflix and Gatorade intake in equal proportion.

It’s been hard to avoid the Marie Kondo landslide (just ask the secondhand stores). Three days with the flu—I had nothing better to do—so I caved to peer pressure and watched. Almost the whole season. And it was fascinating. And helpful. And did you see Roy G. Biv?? And hey, all that viewing time even inspired a fun “Marie Kinda” challenge highlighting how kids “organize toys” on the @sameheresisterfriend Instagram.

But for the believer in Jesus, we can’t just watch a season of Marie and walk away with a satisfied “humph” and the resolve to do better in the decluttering of all our spaces, be they physical or mental. When we view media with what my pastor calls our gospel goggles, we have a plumb line to measure against. Where do we see redemption? Where do we see the effects of the fall? Where are we tempted to rely on something other than Christ’s completed work to make this world not hurt so bad?

We showed our girls a couple of Marie’s YouTube videos. No surprise, they were likewise hypnotized, stoked, and ready to learn to fold. (What is it?? Is it her voice? Her untangleable hair? Her immaculately tailored skirts? I really just need an audio recording of Marie saying “Put on your shoes and get in the car” and a solid half of my girls’ obedience issues would shimmy away.) Within seconds of viewing, my bitties were mimicking Marie’s calm, measured manner of folding, and more notably, lovingly smoothing and patting the items in the way she had…in the way Marie demonstrated giving thanks to the item.

Ruh roh, Velma. I think I spy Vincent Van Ghoul. 

Yes, for those who haven’t watched the show, Marie frequently demonstrates how to give thanks to the item—for example, a dress or t-shirt—for the part it has played in covering and protecting a loved one. The red flags were a-waving. I spied opportunity.

“Bitty, do you love that t-shirt the dentist gave you?”

“Yes, mama. It’s my favorite.”

“Who can we thank for giving us a favorite t-shirt?”

We could start with the dentist (solid guy), or even daddy for working hard to provide the income that allows for the dentist visit (five-star guy), and then there’s mommy who puts her germophobia aside each time she braves a healthcare provider’s office (TRUE STORY), or even sister, for not swiping the shirt the minute it came home (strong choice), or even the shirt for being so cute and having canoeing bears on it…but nah…none of this feels fully right, does it, believer?

Ultimately, this discussion is going to take us to one place and one place only: to the God who knows all our needs (Matt. 6:8), provides for every one of them in His perfect big-picture way (Phil. 4:19), who has only to be asked when we feel we are lacking (Ps. 81:10), who longs to be the first one we go to when we experience a felt need (Phil. 4:6), and who is good even in the no’s (Rom. 8:28). This God cares about beloved dentist t-shirts and baby teeth, pretty dresses and pretty hearts, and He cares where we direct our gratitude, and where we teach our children to direct theirs. And He makes it clear in His word that we are to look up up up to the God who provides in every way and not down to the provision that moth or rust or Kool-Aid will soon destroy.

So pat away. Lovingly fold and coddle that item in just the way Marie showed us, smoothing out the wrinkles and preparing it to take its spot in the Skittles factory that has become my husband’s drawer. But as we do, may we give thanks—even out loud—to the real source of the gift, the God who loved us enough to send the best gift ever in His son Jesus, and teach our bitties to do the same.

xo, Holly Mackle from @sameheresisterfriend