Pride does come before clutter. It can also come during clutter, and when you are trying to get rid of clutter.
That is coming from someone who has been wrestling with both for a bit now.
I was ready to make the move, but the mountain of stuff before me was overwhelming. I wanted to make progress towards simplicity, but man, did it feel daunting. As I was facing the giant that was my over-filled home, I learned that there as a significant connection between my stuff, my pride and my getting rid of said stuff. At first I would not have called it pride. I would have called it being "practical" or not being "wasteful". I would have argued that we needed what had "just in case." But, the ugly monster soon showed its bad side and I saw it for what it was, and I have been fighting it ever since.
Pride can be connected to our clutter in a few ways, and it is not always in keeping clutter, believe it or not. We can find pride meeting us at every part of our decluttering journey, before, middle and once you are well on your way.
First, pride can cause us to hold on to things that we don't need or really want because having it says something about us to the rest of the world.
Or, at least we want it to.
My area of prideful hoarding was with school related things. As a homeschool mom, I constantly feel a need to hold on to lots of school books, educational things, supplies and school-y things so that I will look legit. The more packed my school shelves are, the more "real" school experience I am giving my kids. Or, so I wanted my stuff to say. Our stuff can say other things on our behalf too, like having lots of kitchen stuff says we are a good cook or lots of calendars means we are organized. We look to our stuff to create an image for us, and sometimes we use stuff to say things about us that may not be true OR something that is true, regardless of what our stuff says.
Another one I have run into is also related to what people think, but in a different way.
I struggle with what not having things looks like to others.
When we started limiting our kids wardrobe, I really really struggled with how that would look to others. I didn't want people to think we couldn't afford clothes or more shoes, if we wanted to. I didn't want our less to appear not enough. I also really struggled with how for the first year or so of our living in the Little House, my youngest slept on a mattress on the floor. He was totally fine with that, I was the only one who struggled. Maybe you can relate with how it feels to have fewer shoes, kid toys, books on the bookshelf or different choices in the pantry than a lot of people ..what will they think, for goodness sake?!
Interestingly, pride can also come into play when it comes to living on less as well because we are proud of ourselves for doing it (we are complex creatures).
Taking the road less traveled can give us an innate sense of pride that can plant itself deep in our hearts, if we aren't careful. Since learning to live more simply, I honestly have struggled at times with feeling prideful because of we have chosen to live with less. Being part of a virtual community online who strives the same way, I can tell you that pride rears its ugly head at times for all of us.
In all these cases, pride leads us to consider what others think as our primarily motivation. We are thinking about how we appear to others, rather than how we need to best use our resources.
Using our resources well is the primary motivation for godly simple living. Using what we have been given for our own good work, whether it is space, or things, or our wardrobe, allows us to turn our eyes away from what other think of us. We can't hold on to things because of how it will look to others, and we can't look to others to approve our desire to be content with less (whether for the good, or bad).
Being really honest with ourselves about why we keep things, or why we don't is a big part of beating pride away. When we hold on to anything, be it books, cars, spices (true story), school supplies or anything we can ask, "Why do I need to keep this? Does it have anything to do with what others think?"
Also, if you are intent on revealing what role pride plays in your clutter - ask. Ask God to show you if pride is an issue with your over abundance, and be willing confess it if he shows you.
I know I still struggle with it at times. Do share - and thanks for being willing!