Matthew 6:33 –But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Gratitude Day 824

Righting your life with the “right” amount of stuff takes time. Effort. Energy.

If you have been reducing and decluttering this Lent, let me give you a pat on the back! Whether it has been decluttering one drawer or more, every step is a step. If you haven’t, please feel no shame! Maybe the timing isn’t right. The energy just isn’t there. One thing you could do is simply find one item a day that you eliminate. Whether you throw it into the garbage or put it in a donate box, doing this for a month helps you deal with 30 things. In a year, you could have 360 less items in your house. THIS, my friend, is progress!

As you reduce, I encourage you to deal with the “easier” stuff first. The things that are not as emotional or sentimental. The things that require less energy to decide. After a while, you will discover that there are things that ARE emotional and more sentimental that need to be dealt with. How do you ever begin with these things? Where do you start?

As you declutter with the easy stuff, try to group the sentimental things together. Have them in an area/spot that you know you will come back to. The goal IS to get back to these things and begin to tackle them.

So, how do you work your way through these items? Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Photos – This is a huge hang-up. What do I do with all of these photos? Honestly, I have sorted thousands (honestly!) in the last few years. I have thrown away some, kept some and given away a lot. I began by getting as many of the photos together as I could. I immediately threw away those that were blurry and poor quality. There is no reason to keep poor photos. I made folders/envelopes for each person that I would gift photos to. If there are duplicates, keep one for yourself. Gift or throw the others away. As I went through the photos, I put ones I wanted to give away into the folder/envelope marked for the person. Then, I GAVE THEM AWAY. This is important. Let them go. Because of the number of photos I went through, I went through this process more than once. Towards the end, I had a box of photos that I did not know what to do with. I took the box to our family Christmas and let people take whatever photos they wanted. About half disappeared. I may still have a few of those left, but even getting rid of half was fantastic!
  2. What about the really old photos? If there are people you know, write their names on the back so they can be identified. What about the photos that no one knows? Limit yourself on how many of the really cool ones you can keep. A very specific number. Get rid of the rest.
  3. Go through the items once. Make the easier decisions and eliminate things. Set what is left aside for a while and go through them again. I have gone through some of the things multiple times, each time, whittling away a little more.
  4. If you think someone else would like an item, give it to them. They can decide whether or not they want to keep it.
  5. If it is something you are hesitant about, take a photo of it. Put it in the donate box. If you really want it, you can take it out in a few days. But you will always have the photo.  
  6. What about the items that are cool or old and you aren’t sure what to do with them? If no loved one wants them, see if someone else does. Contact a local museum or post online and see if someone is interested in your item(s). I was able to get certain things to groups/individuals that appreciated them. Be wary of letting this drag on and on. It is important to feel progress. Letting things hang around for extend periods of time drains your energy.
  7. As you get closer to the end and you still have too much, impose self-determined limits. A specific box, or number of tubs. I allowed myself to keep one box of photos, another small box of meaningful cards, etc. I kept one high school yearbook and got rid of the rest. Specific limits helped me zero in what I really wanted to keep and what was just taking up more space. I went through this process more than once to get down to the pre-determined amount. Every time, I eliminated a bit more.  
  8. What if something could be of value? What do you do then? This gets tricky. “Value” is in the eyes of the beholder. What is “valuable” to me may not be “valuable” to someone else and vice versa. At times, I let my siblings know of particular items. If they were interested, they got it. If no one was interested, it was time to let it go!
  9. Give yourself grace. I took me a few years to really get through all the sentimental things. Over time, I could be more objective. After giving this so much time and energy, I determined when it was the last time. Will I go through these things again in a couple years and wonder why I kept something? Yes, This is part of the process.

Most importantly, YOU determine what is important to YOU. Remember the reel-to-reel containers of my grandmother’s that I kept? They were important to ME. I’ve let a lot of things go and kept them. You will have a few of those items as well.

As I have decluttered and gotten rid of things, I keep repeating that it’s OK to keep those things I love and adore. But it is also more important for me to store more treasures in heaven than on earth. When I seek God’s kingdom first, I will not justify to myself that some earthly treasure is more important than loving God and my neighbor. When I keep God first in my life, then I already have THE most important treasure of all: God’s love in my heart. I pray that what I do on a daily basis shows this love to other people and is more valuable to me than some item in my house.

Yes, this may sound a bit harsh. But Jesus was very clear: God’s kingdom is more precious than a pair of shoes or the right handbag. It does not matter what model of car I drive if I let this be an idol that is more important to me than letting others witness God’s love in my life. If I seek value from things of this world rather than seeking God first, I need to rethink my priorities.

When we keep God first and love our neighbor second, the other things we need will come forth. Maybe not all of our wants, but all of our needs. Too often, we expect God to make sure all of our wants are provided. Jesus promises our needs will be covered. We sometimes forget this.

As you find yourself going through the more sentimental things in your world, keep the things that really are treasures. Things that are not idols in your life, but items that bring you joy. While it may be difficult to let things go, the joy of having less to manage, take up space and maintain will be worth it.

For Jesus’ words to seek God’s kingdom over sentimental things , I am grateful.

Blessings –

Loving God – Thank you for allowing me to have so many cool and special sentimental things in my life. Things that remind me of my heritage, my history and my past. Help me keep perspective of these items and not to let them become idols in my life. May I store up treasures in heaven more so than on earth. Amen.

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