Well, it's that time of year again...when I notice a drawer getting a cluttered, a pair of pants I never wear, and before I know it I'm in full-fledged purge mode, cleaning out the closets of all the things we don't need that's taking up space in our home.
The other day, I realized my four-year-old outgrew almost every pair of pants she owned. This seemingly happened within a span of two weeks, her little legs just shot right out and within days she acquired an all-capri wardrobe that sent her ankles shivering in this wintry season. How did that happen? Upon buying her some longer pants, I was soon to find other ill-fitting clothes hiding in my daughter's dresser, and so began the task of clearing out and handing-me-down my girl's apparel.
Half-a-dozen trash bags later, all our closets had been lightened. I have to say, having just moved across the country 7-ish months ago, I'm amazed at how much superfluous accumulation we had taken on within our 900 sq. ft. apartment. Yes, the girls had rightfully outgrown a bit of their clothing, but Josh and I had our fair share of giveaways as well. T-shirts I just never wear, pajama pants that have an annoying drawstring, a shirt that shrunk in the dryer, a jacket that hasn't been worn in seasons...you get the picture.
The great "toy purge" is always my favorite - getting rid of all those ridiculous knick-knacks that somehow go from this-will-shut-my-kid-up-at-the-moment-necessary-survival-item, to junk in the span of only a few days. McDonald's toys, stocking stuffers, puzzles with missing pieces, baby stuff they've lost interest in...it all adds up to a pile of someone-else's-treasures that get sacked up and ready to deliver to Goodwill (or the garbage bin, depending).
Ah, there is always a wonderful sense of pride and relief when I shove all that "extra" out of my home. While some of the items get passed on with nostalgia and feelings of sadness (I just can't believe my baby outgrew that sweet kitty jammie onesie, it was soooo adorable and now she'll never wear it again!) I take a deep breath and embrace the new freedom of what is to come. I know new "things" and new "items" and most of all, new memories are always right around the corner.
Purging my house of unnecessary stuff also got me thinking about cleaning out more than just tangible junk. What am I hanging onto inside that is simply just taking up SPACE? Am I used to familiar worries or concerns or desires that have no bearing on my life right now? Are there things I need to kick to the curb and move on from so that I can better use that mental space to store up new items like patience or grace that I could really, truly put to good use?
This got me thinking, and I'm still thinking and praying about it. What is there to get rid of?
That residual guilt I have for leaving my girls in the care of someone else, even though I know there are times when it is absolutely the best thing for both of us in the moment. That should go. Ah, but that guilt feels so necessary - I wear it so well, and I think I might need it to keep me feeling okay about doing what I'm doing. Really? Nope, it's got to go. Lord, help me replace that guilt with grace and strength.
What about that approval I need from others to feel like I'm going above and beyond in balancing my work and family? Maybe that should be boxed up and sent away for good. But what if someone thinks I'm not doing the right thing? And it feels good when another person looks up to me. I like other people's approval. But, do I need it? Do I wait for it in order to make decisions or be inspired? It needs to be let go. Lord, help me to seek your guidance and inspiration and remember that only You're approval matters in my life. Help me replace that approval with genuine motivation to serve well.
What about you? Hanging onto unnecessary clutter in your heart or mind that is just taking up useless space? Maybe it felt good a long time ago, or maybe it even served a valid purpose when you needed it...but, can it be let go? Can you join me in asking Jesus to replace that void with peace, grace, or kindness?
Purging isn't easy. It's messy and emotional and it conjures up all kinds of memories and dirt that makes me want to rent out a storage unit with unlimited space. But, limits are vital to thrive in this life, and they can be put to beautiful use when I ask God to reorganize the essentials.
Now, that's what I call real relief.