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The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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Sparking Joy

Moving house is tiring. Moving with a newly pregnant wife who is experiencing extreme morning sickness and on a very limited timeframe, turns out, is exhausting.

Author and speaker Marie Kondo is a ‘decluttering expert’. When I bought her book, Spark Joy, I thought my wife would love it.

I was wrong. The gift of that particular book at that particular time, in the end, sparked something other than joy.

Nonetheless, I love that strikingly visual concept of ‘sparking’ joy. Kondo’s recent series Tidying Up, currently on Netflix, challenges families to attempt her ‘KonMari Method’, tidying by category, not by location. They begin with clothes, then move to books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items), and, finally, sentimental items.

Her advice? ‘Keep only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy. Thank them for their service – then let them go.’

I am sure many, like me, won’t agree with all she espouses – particularly any sense of the objects themselves having ‘spirits’. That said, sometimes the things we are holding on to, whether physical, mental, or emotional, can hold us back. Filling our spaces. Keeping us from joy, or sharing our joy.

Kondo challenges the families she works with: ‘there are three approaches we can take toward our possessions: face them now, face them sometime, or avoid them until the day we die.’

It’s a stark message, but the popularity of Kondo’s approach across social media and in homes around the country alerts us to the fact that it resonates with people. It gels with an understanding that our lives are too full of clutter, that we feel overwhelmed by ‘stuff’, and that, above all, we’re seeking joy.

It’s an age-old question, isn’t it? Where can I find joy? What will give me true, deep, lasting satisfaction? Getting rid of ‘stuff’? Using and keeping only the things that give me a good feeling?

The Christian message is one which points to the ultimate source of joy not as something but as someone – the creator of joy himself. And joy is a fruit of the Spirit – an outworking of God in us.

So, this January, where will you find joy? See what you make of Marie and her way, but let us be people who spark joy, and who point others towards the true source of joy itself.

Sparking joy, wherever we are, because of the one who sparks joy in us.

Josh Trickey
Josh is Digital Lead at LICC

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Josh Trickey


  1. A great piece Josh and very true. In church we often fill our time with meetings and appointments, we can often miss out on real opportunities for outreach. (frontline space) Also we often fail to spend enough time with the one who brings joy at a personal level.

    By Tim Griffiths  -  18 Jan 2019
  2. Great thought. I think it’s also always worth highlighting on the topic of ‘stuff’, our dire need to stop accumulating so much of it in the first place, and to be much more diligent about getting rid of excess in as environmentally friendly way as possible. I don’t know much about Kondo, but I hope ‘Reduce, reuse, recycle’ is or becomes a central element of her approach.

    By Bruce Gulland  -  18 Jan 2019
    • Thanks for those points Bruce – really important to keep both in mind. As one of my colleagues said recently, this idea of having so much ‘stuff’ stockpiled is a problem found primarily where we are well off enough to get the stuff in the first place. Its a challenge for many of us as to whether we truly need the ‘things’.

      By Josh Trickey  -  22 Jan 2019
  3. I’m in the process of moving house and have reduced my stuff to the minimum, since storage space will be an issue in the new house. However, of greater importance has been the decisions made concerning relationships. So many Christians accumulate non-helpful ones and wonder then why their lives are so full of ‘people clutter’. Deep personal relationships, like precious objects, bring joy only if we have time to enjoy them (no pun intended!).
    Perhaps the depth of our relatipnship with Jesus is an indicator of our need, or otherwise, for more stuff and more relationships.

    By Derek Carver  -  19 Jan 2019
    • It’s a trap we can all fall into, at the expense of relationships we can overfill with ‘stuff’ – be it physical, emotional, filling our time or otherwise. If I’d had more words I’d have loved to cover more around what we might need to ‘declutter’ to be more free to share joy with others, but alas only 400 words!

      By Josh Trickey  -  22 Jan 2019
  4. Thanks Josh: a timely thought as I am currently in the process of going through my stuff accumulated over too many years. In the early days of LICC, I remember John Stott saying that, as a general principle, if something we owned had not been useful to us in the previous year or so, we should consider giving it to someone who would benefit from it.

    You’re a chip off the old block!

    By Phillip Herbert  -  19 Jan 2019
    • Thanks Philip. I love that thought. I’ve been challenged recently around what is truly a generous gift – giving something we no longer really want can be ungenerous. Being prepared to give away something we truly love, there’s a real challenge.

      By Josh Trickey  -  22 Jan 2019
  5. Re Derek Carver’s comment “However, of greater importance has been the decisions made concerning relationships. So many Christians accumulate non-helpful ones and wonder then why their lives are so full of ‘people clutter’.”
    Heaven help us. What he calls ‘people clutter’ might mean that at some point, we’ll be able to ‘be there’ for them, coming alongside and being Christ made flesh. I try not to be baited by comments on the internet, but felt compelled to respond by this one. Bring on the ‘clutter’.

    By Nick Willers  -  22 Jan 2019
  6. I have to say Josh I get a lot of joy from clearing away ‘stuff’ at home, especially when my teenagers have left a trail of destruction! Seriously though, I love the idea that we can bring joy to others through our daily work – those who create things for others that bring great joy. So i suppose you could say we find joy in some stuff because it is well made – a great FIFA game, a well designed spreadsheet or a well made spaghetti bolognese! So perhaps you could bring joy to your good wife and recover the joy at home after this article by cooking a good meal and changing a good nappy or two, or three!!

    By Steve ROUSE  -  23 Jan 2019

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