Beginning to unload ourselves of excess is not an easy task. Spiritual excess, material excess, physical excess. Rarely does any of it go away and without a fight. What often times seems easy to obtain gets it’s gnarly fingers around us and too often convinces us we need whatever Easy has to offer.
If you haven’t read our previous post Simplifying Life in 2016 I recommend you do. The rest of this series on simplifying life will make more sense.That post is just the beginning of a series on Simplifying Life.
Kitchen, clothes, bodies, finances, time, habits, emotions, living MORE intentionally are all things we plan on tackling both here on the blog and in real life. Getting rid of things and striving to live simply isn’t a brand new habit for us-it’s something that has been ongoing on some level for years, something that while it’s been brewing there, hasn’t been full-on dived head first into with as much gusto and commitment as we are tackling it now. This time it’s with more passion and purpose than ever before. We’re excited about it.
In light of the experiences leading up to the writing of that original post and the clear sense that God was calling us to a more simple lifestyle, we have taken on some projects in the last two weeks that have since eased our house into a tidier and more purposeful ,cleaner living space (cleaner lines, cleaner more open floor space). We’ll post pictures soon. And you know what? It feels good. Good to know that the back corners of the closets are free, the clothes have been readied to give to others who can use them, and we have weeded out what we truly love and don’t love in our wardrobe. It feels good that the books on the bookshelves have room to breathe, the shelves look a little more organized and the young child-friendly books we’ve had for so long will go to good use at our church’s preschool.
But you know what? Getting rid of things hurts.
- It hurts going through the toys and realizing that the girls haven’t played with them for a long time, not because they aren’t nice toys, but because my girls have outgrown them, which means my babies are growing up and my heart isn’t ready for that, which brings on memories about every.single.part. of raising them. As I pick up the baby dolls I remember my girls holding them in their chubby little arms and pushing them around in their pint-sized stroller. Realizing my kids are no longer those chubby little armed babies hurts.
- It hurts to decide we no longer have need for a piece of furniture we worked hard on to repurpose and repaint and for years has been part of our master bedroom. As we discussed removing the large cabinet from it’s current place and out of the house we began remembering painting it (a couple of times). We remembered removing parts and adding new ones. Jeremy remembered that while he worked on this cabinet he was listening to a local high school football game on the radio where the kicker who kicked the winning point was in our youth group at the time. We took pause as we realized how many years had passed between that moment and today.
- It hurts to get rid of articles that have memories attached to them: family pieces, gifts, hand-me downs. (more on family heirlooms later).
- It hurts to realize how much money we spent on things that we no longer use, want, or care about and to think how much money could have gone into savings or travelling or making memories.
- It hurts to realize that we spent so much time on things…cleaning up things, putting away things, organizing and reorganizing things-basically just moving them around. And how much time we would have had for other pursuits.
- It hurts to get rid of things simply because healthy, fun chapter of life has ended.
- Sometimes fear of what others will think if we pass on material items and choose to live differently hurts. While it shouldn’t be an issue, realistically it can be. When’s the last time we felt like we needed to live like The Joneses?
- Getting rid of things hurts when we become accustomed to having them around.
- Breaking habits of buying and spending hurts.
The trap of consumerism is that our meaning and sense of who we are is wrapped up in the worth or expanse of our material items.
We tend to receive the message that our memories of a loved one are defined within the walls of an object-they aren’t! Our memories are in our heart and mind.I’m often reminded of the verse from where “Mary treasured all these things in her heart.” It reminds me to keep close the moments and memories I have with people and to take time to treasure them.
I have found it easier to deal with the physical aspect of getting rid of items before tackling heart and relational stuff. Yes, they all play together and yes, no one is completely separated from the other. But decluttering the physical space the other questions of faith, purpose, memories, worth, stuff that we have to deal with inside will have room to breathe and no longer be able to hide behind the false security of objects.
Regardless of what we find ourselves having to push through to reach the other side, the side of meeting our goals, it’s worth pressing on. There might be a few tears along the way and some hard decisions to make, but living in an uncluttered, simple abode where we can chase our passions is well worth the energy.
Here’s a great article on Why It’s Hard To Let Go Of Clutter from Psychology Today.
Here’s another great article on How Clutter Affects Your Brain from Lifehacker.