Monday, January 09, 2017

Becoming a Cozy Minimalist

So maybe it’s just me, but this New Year business has inspired me to really go through our home and de-clutter.  My Mom would tell you that is ridiculous because it wasn’t cluttered to begin with.  But the pile headed for our spring garage sale says differently. 

It all started when just around Thanksgiving time, I read about a mom who cleaned out her toy room and ended up with just one medium-sized Rubbermaid tote of toys at the end.  I knew I couldn't get down to one tote.  But I also knew there were probably many items we no longer needed in our toy room.  So one day while the kids were at school I cleaned it out.  I moved a few things around so that the toys they really played with were more accessible.  I threw away all the broken toys and the toys missing pieces.  I am embarrassed to say that when all was said and done I had four HUGE boxes full of outgrown toys.  I packed them away in the store room with a sense of certainty that there would be MUTINY when my kids got home from school.  Here’s the kicker: they never noticed. (Sh!  Don't tell!!)

I sat there looking at those boxes in my store room for weeks on end with a sense of satisfaction and challenge.  If there was this much in our toy room, imagine what else I could find in the house. 

I’ve done clean-outs before.  Certainly before we moved there was a season of purging.  Even after we moved there were several things that didn’t have a place and I just no longer wanted in our home.  But rarely (never?) have I gone through our things with the fine-toothed comb I have been using in the past few weeks. 

It’s not merely going through every cabinet or every closet or every drawer.  It’s going through every binder in every closet, every box in every cabinet and every container in every drawer.  My kids willingly volunteered to do the same in their rooms.  I’ve been through absolutely every single space at least once, some of them twice, and some three times.  It’s exhaustive and exhausting.

And yet, there is a great peace in looking at the towering pile of boxes marked for a huge garage sale this spring.  We are lightening our load over here.  The amount of our material possessions has decreased dramatically.  The possessions we still hold are treated with more respect and care.  And our grip on all of our things has loosened considerably. 

Until I started letting go, I didn’t realize how tightly I was clinging.  And now that I have started to let go, it gets easier because I have embraced the truth that my life is not measured in the sum of the things in my home.

We have several empty containers, empty spaces, empty shelves here now.  But we aren’t looking to fill them.  We aren’t shopping for new or better.  We are just enjoying the feeling of space – the feeling of less.

I could get rid of more.  That is so deeply humbling.  Even through this process I find that I have not sacrificed anything that really cost me.  I had so much excess that I could get rid of more than half of it and still not suffer – not feel a pinch – not feel a loss. 

I would never have claimed to worship my own things…but the truth of the matter is I do just that more often than I am comfortable admitting. 

This journey has been fascinating and revealing.  I’ve faced some weird rationalizations that I had made about what I needed to keep.  I am wrestling with my own consumerism and materialism in some major ways.  And mostly I have found that I am strong enough to let go of things.  I can and should do it more often.  It’s a season of easing my grip on all that is around me and sitting with palms up, open and waiting for the good that God is longing to bring into my life.  I just needed to make a little room.

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