23 March 2024

Sort your life out in seven days? Unlikely!

Claire Anderson

A scene from Sort Your Life Out shows two people standing in a warehouse filled with belongings. Picture: BBC/Optomen Television/Neil Kent
Picture: BBC/Optomen Television/Neil Kent

Claire Anderson thinks on the importance of working through our clutter.

Level with me. How often do you hold on to things that you no longer need? Not just those thermal PJs Auntie Anne bought you last Christmas, but the fallouts, failed friendships and missed opportunities or even slights from strangers you simply cannot let go.

Admittedly, I haven’t got this area cracked. But, even so, I was surprised to receive an email from Salvationist Managing Editor Ivan Radford titled: Sort your life out. Rude!

Thankfully, he was talking about the new series of the BBC’s Sort Your Life Out – currently airing on Tuesday evenings on BBC One – featuring Stacey Solomon and her merry band of cleaners, fixers and organisers.

The show follows the stories of people whose cluttered homes have overwhelmed them. All the contents of the house are moved into a warehouse where it’s easy to see everything. There, we learn how the home got into such a state and see the family start sifting through what should stay and what should go. All this is done in just a week.

We could easily dismiss the show as an opportunity to judge people’s messes, rather than dealing with our own – see Luke 6:37–42 for practical wisdom on this – but we’re invited to understand the deeper reasons people have found themselves so stuck. There’s the young widower unable to go through boxes that represent a life he’d planned with his wife and children. There’s the middle-aged mum who can’t enter her living room, because it is crammed with bad memories.

The house clutter is astounding, but it’s a physical symptom of the underlying turmoil of people scrambling to recover from challenging life moments.

In each episode, there’s a tipping point where the homeowner stops fighting for their attachment to things they no longer need, and they find relief, joy and freedom in letting go.

It isn’t easy to struggle on with our pain, turmoil or regrets. When they play on repeat they strip us of the power to move forward and break the cycle of hurt and shame. While we might not have a clean-up crew to physically force us to see everything we’re holding on to, the Holy Spirit will help us pick out and lay bare everything that clutters our life and soul.

I don’t find it easy to let go of hurts and resentments – you’re more likely to see me deep-clean the stress away, rather than directly dealing with confrontation or tricky emotions. However, Sort Your Life Out has become a weekly reminder of what happens when we refuse to let things go. It’s a chance to stop, reflect on what we’re holding and purposefully lay it down at the foot of the cross. We were never meant to carry all these burdens – even if we’re determined to try.

The homes on the show are sorted in seven days. But this isn’t the end of the journey, simply the beginning of the real restoration. Are you ready to take that first step too?

Reflect and respond

  • Reflect on Psalm 55:22 and 1 Peter 5:7. Consider how we’re called to cast our cares on the Lord.
  • List the things that are stopping you moving forward.
  • Choose one. Consider what it gave you and whether it can be restored, reused or let go.
  • Thank God for it. Be specific about why you’re grateful, then say aloud if you choose to let it go.

Written by

Photo of Claire Anderson.

Claire Anderson


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