My husband and I are embarking on a cleansing, of sorts!
It has become quite clear to us both, that a life filled with clutter is not healthy. Not from a mental perspective, not from a space perspective, not from a spiritual perspective, not from a life perspective!
Decluttering a life is hard work!
It takes time and commitment. It takes a willingness to let go – of things, of activities, of thoughts and of expectations. Of hurts! Of disappointments! You see, decluttering a life isn’t just about stuff. It’s about all the parts of our life that can keep us from being who we were made to be. For those with faith, it can keep us from having that real and true relationship with our Savior. It means looking at the things we hold on to, sometimes desperately, and deciding how truly important they are too us. And then for those things we choose to hold on to, asking ourselves some questions:
What is my reason for holding on?
Does holding on bring me joy?
What would my life look like without this?
What could I gain from letting go?
Tough questions and tough decisions!
Last year I spent some time decluttering my schedule. It involved a lot of soul searching and resolve to slowly chip away the things that were taking my time, but not giving me any real return. Understanding there are some aspects of my daily schedule that I am not presently able to affect (such as work commitments), I chose to focus on those things I do have control over. Two major things were time spent in front of the television and checking in on social media. I also took stock of the different things I had been committing to (classes, volunteer work, get-togethers, etc), making sure that time spent on those things balanced out with the rest of my life. While I still enjoy relaxing a bit with a good show, or checking in on family and friends online, I try to limit the amount of time each day when I’m doing it. I’m still working through some overcommitting tendencies, but the first part of recovery is at least accepting you have a problem, right?
This year I am focusing on decluttering my home. Stuff. Things. Possessions. It is something my husband and I have been talking about for a few years now – probably about the same time we discovered the show Hoarders. Over an almost 30 year marriage we have accumulated a lot of stuff. Some of those items are necessary and used often. Other items are used occasionally, or for special occasions – like camping equipment or for holidays and entertaining. And then there are all the other items. You know, the ones that you picked up on vacation, or as an impulse buy, or because at the time it seemed like something you couldn’t live without. It could be clothes, shoes, jewelry, appliances, kitchen items, decorations, knick knacks, tools…oh my the list goes on and on!
So we are systematically going room by room, through every closet, drawer, storage container, shelf, bag, box. And for whatever we find, deciding one of three things:
Keep It – we’ve used it in the last year, or it meets a certain need!
Donate It – the item is in good shape and someone else could get use of it!
Trash It – why in the world have we been keeping this for so long?
You cannot do this type of decluttering until you are truly ready to make the choice to let things go. You have to do it at your own pace. You also have to be ready to make real decisions about what should go and what should stay. Finally, don’t let family or friends tell you how much, or how little, stuff you should have. People are very different and one person’s clutter can be another person’s comfort! So keep that in mind when you are trying to keep up with the minimalists or Martha Stewarts of the world. There is nothing wrong with those folks – but it may not be you! I KNOW it isn’t me!
There are a number of reasons that it took us a few years to really make the effort. I’m glad it did, because as we embark on this lengthy and time consuming project, we are more ready now than we have ever been. And as I watch my husband take trip after trip of garbage and recycle bags to the receptacles, and boxes to the local church, I know we are ready to make a real change! We have completed about a third of our total project. We’ve gotten rid of much, maybe kept a little more than we originally planned, but in the end it has been a successful use of our time. As we view each area, we see a little extra space, a bit more organization and a lot less CLUTTER! Amen to that!
“Store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven not on Earth.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
Our work towards more personal and internal decluttering is a work in progress! It involves truthful and intentional discussions, internal soul searching, spending time in the Word and a lot of prayer. It takes surrender and acceptance and a true desire to learn, change, let go, compromise and love. I hope I never lose the desire to declutter my mind and heart of those things that are negative, unhealthy and strangling – and replace them with positive thoughts, an openness to forgive and a heart to love. I pray for this change in myself each day and I’m learning to trust that God hears my prayer and is giving me the strength to make it happen!
“If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.”
Philippians 2:1-14 (MSG)