Gratitude Day 572
Hebrews 13:5-6 – Don’t be obsessed with money but live content with what you have, for you always have God’s presence. For hasn’t he promised you, “I will never leave you alone, never! And I will not loosen my grip on your life!” So, we can say with great confidence: “I know the Lord is for me and I will never be afraid of what people may do to me!”
At the beginning of each new year, I regularly have this little conversation with myself. It goes something like this.
“This is the year you ARE GOING to get your house organized. Get rid of the excess.”
“Yes, I know. This WILL be the year.”
“You CAN do this. You MUST do this.”
And nearly every year, I make some strides. I get rid of somethings. I slowly whittle down. But it seems and feels like it’s not just as much as I would like it to be.
Here’s what I do know.
The more stuff we have? The more time it takes to manage it.
Too much around me distracts me. Challenges my focus. Feels out-of-control.
Getting rid of something small can feel like a noticeably big win.
If you’ve followed this blog for a while, this is one of those topics I have previously shared about. A few years ago, my Mom passed away. We had gone through several cycles of downsizing her belongings. Each time this happened, I ended up with more boxes and totes of stuff to go through. These were things that were going to take some time to sort through. I knew there was also belongings from both of my grandmothers that had never been gone through after their deaths, even though they had been gone for years.
Hubby Rick and I had moved these boxes and totes numerous times. I’m not kidding. Some of them had a lot of miles on them. During the first couple years of living in our current home, I had one whole wall filled with the 30+ boxes and totes. Sometimes, I’d try to find something in this out-of-control mess. Every time I would do so, it felt very overwhelming in trying to deal with it all.
Then, the talk came. One winter day, Hubby Rick approached me. He carefully told me that if I didn’t start dealing with all of these boxes and totes and stuff, he was going to start putting them in the garbage. One at a time.
Nothing like a little motivation to get a girl going.
For the next several weeks and months, I made it through the majority of those boxes. I sorted and cleaned out. Some things were donated. Some I sorted for various family members. I’ve sent my fair-share of boxes of items to cousins and other relatives. My divvied-out items to my siblings and nieces and nephews. I kept back items that I have used and will used for our Deaton Family Christmas gift exchange for years to come.
I have made progress. And it feels good. Truth be known, I haven’t quite finished the project. I have four or five boxes yet to deal with. These are the hard things. The ones that I still am trying to figure out. The items that I go back and forth about what to do with.
What do you do with your parent’s high school yearbooks? I checked with the local library where they graduated school. They took one.
Funeral books from your great-grandparents? I know. It’s crazy to even ask this question. But also getting rid of feels a bit like I am dishonoring these people.
Pictures of people you don’t know? Some are REALLY COOL old photos. Thank goodness my cousin Dwight took a whole bunch of these to deal with. Now I only have one side of the family left.
Plus a whole bunch of other things.
As I spent hours going through all these things, it made me realize that I have way too much of my own personal things. Things that someday, no one will want to sort through. Spend hours reviewing. Wondering what to do with. Currently, those remaining boxes of my Mom’s things, as well as a bunch of my own stuff, is packed away in a closet. I have made progress, but it really requires the right frame of mind to deal with final things. I have called this my “winter” project for several years. Once again as we approach March, it will once again become my “spring” project.
I probably won’t feel like I’ve really dealt with the things in our house until I get this closet cleaned out. Make decisions about a bunch of stuff. Yet, I also feel this angst of too much stuff has spilled over into other areas of our house as well.
This is why I’ve taken a different approach to dealing with this “stuff.”
During Lent 2019, I encouraged folks to choose 40 items to get rid of, one item per day during Lent. I ended up getting rid of multiple boxes of stuff. It felt good. Yet, I know there continues to be more stuff that I can and should get rid of.
I’ve tried the Marie Kondo method, of only keeping the things that really bring me joy. Her premise is that once you do this, you don’t have to do it again. Here’s the problem with her theory. What brought me joy yesterday may not bring me joy today. My feelings about things change over time. I constantly am aware of things that I previously really enjoyed not having the same feeling today.
So, during 2021, I’ve tried to do what I call 20-minutes of cleaning a day. I find one little project that will take about 20 minutes and do it today. Maybe it’s cleaning out a drawer. Maybe it’s washing the curtains and cleaning the floors in a room. Maybe it’s sorting through a single small box of things. I have a couple different boxes that I put things in: items to donate and items to give to someone. I have also sold some items for a small amount. Of course, some items simply end up in the garbage. If I’m not sure that I really like or enjoy something, it goes.
Like the candle whose scent I never really liked.
Like the cookbook that no longer has any appeal to me.
Like the clothes that no longer fit. Yep, I am finally getting rid of them. As well as the shoes that I haven’t worn in over a year.
These are just little wins that I can make in getting my house in order. Yes, there are days when I don’t accomplish a 20-minute clean. And it’s OK. Sometimes, going through something takes longer than 20-minutes. And this is OK as well.
My point in sharing all of this? During Lent 2021, I’m encouraging us to think less about sacrificing stuff and more about surrendering our souls to Jesus. But I am also acutely aware that when I spent more time managing stuff, I have less energy and time to deal with the really big things in life.
I want less of those things to manage.
So, today’s Lenten exercise? Go to one area of your house that you would like to eliminate some stuff. Please don’t pick an area that will be hard or difficult. Pick an area that you can do easily and quickly. One drawer. One closet. Your hanging clothes. Set the timer for 20 minutes and quickly go through it. If there are items you can’t decide about right now, set them aside. Put them in an area where you gather those unsure items. You can ruminate about them for a day or two and decide later.
When the 20-minute timer goes off? Give yourself a pat on the back. Congratulate yourself. And go about your day.
If this felt good, pick another day in the next week to do this again. Keep the pressure to accomplish low. Set your expectations low. Make it fun. Have boxes and a garbage can readily available to use. Just do it. 20-minutes at a time.
For Lent 2021, I do not want us just to focus on stuff. Life is really much more important than the things we have in our houses. Yet, there is a balance of how much time we put into managing our things versus having this time to do the things that we really love. Hikes to take. Books to read. Paths to snowshoe. Time with loved ones (as it is safe.)
Our experiences are far more important than our stuff. There is a weight lifted off when we have less stuff in our realm. Try it for 20-minutes today and see how it makes you feel.
For the opportunity to have less stuff in my life, I am grateful.
Dear God – Please forgive me when I prioritized maintaining my stuff over spending time with You and those who mean the most to me. Help me see what things are important to keep … and what is just creating additional clutter in my life. May I not be overwhelmed in dealing with my belongings but find an easy and manageable way to eliminate and make it easier to enjoy what I have. Amen.
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