How to have more
"Of course I'm sending Christmas cards!" I said.
This is our first settled Christmas season together. Why would I NOT send an adorable holiday greeting with a photo of Russell, me...and my dog Konga? I've always wanted to send family Christmas cards. Literally, my whole life I've wanted to.
I finally have a family who's all together. Why would I NOT send cards?
If we're close, you now realize that I, indeed, did not send Christmas cards. The thing I always wanted to do will have to go another year without being done. Why?
The first weekend of Christmas, I planned on using the time to type up the address labels, design and order cards. I even knew what style card I wanted, the message and the photo to use. But as I sat down at my computer to begin this little project, I felt wrong.
How on earth can one feel wrong about a Christmas greeting?? "Get thee behind me, satan!!" is how I responded to that feeling. But it persisted. As I prayed about it, I realized God had other plans for that particular weekend -- the one weekend I had to complete this project.
I remembered learning once -- or a thousand times -- that God's interruptions are better than my plans.
Rather than sending cards, God revealed something profound to me and asked me to do some work pertaining to it. He said something like this:
There are things in your life that I don't want you taking into 2018. Things that were blessings for a season, but by clinging onto them, they are spoiling in your hands like rotting fruit. If you will let go of these old blessings, you can make room for the great things I have for you in 2018.
So I began taking inventory of my life: What are things that have been a blessing that are beginning to weigh me down? Russell? (Relax! I'm joking.) Konga? Def not. Our home? Nope. Stuff? Well...maybe...
I dug deeper
As I pondered this, I remembered two sources that I recently saw -- let me link them for you to see, too:
- A fashion blogger explaining how she keeps her closet tidy...because who has more stuff than a fashion blogger?! Read: Cleaning Out Your Closet (Literally)
- A Netflix documentary titled: Minimalism: a Documentary About the Important Things* There was one particular idea that stuck with me through the months: If you own stuff that doesn't add to your daily life -- stuff that clutters your life -- then you don't own it, IT OWNS YOU. It owns your attention, your time, your energy. (It sounds remarkably similar to "No one can serve two masters", right? See Matthew 6.)
I immediately thought of my shoecase. For those of you unfamiliar (and clearly more sane), a shoecase is a bookcase for shoes. Mine, in particular, is for high heels only. Because I'm that extra. I've spent so much time dusting these shoes, and many of them I haven't worn in over a year. Some of them, I'm ashamed to say, I've never worn. They were more like art pieces to me -- for display only. But they were distracting me from the more important things in life (what an apropos conclusion based on the film).
Now, please hear me when I say I will never be a certified Minimalist. I LIKE shoes. I like owning my books. I really enjoy all of my cookware (thanks for the wedding presents!). But the point in the documentary is not to get rid of everything you own, but to get rid of stuff you don't use. That looks differently for each person. When I tell you I use a different lotion for my face, my hands and my body, well, I truly use that stuff. But the 3 different kinds of hand lotion I own...I definitely don't use all 3. The premise of the film is about having less so you can own more.
Less distractions, more focus.
Less rando stuff, more quality items.
Less dusting things, more enjoying life.
I used that weekend to clean out our closets -- yes, some of my husband's stuff got the chopping block, too. I sorted my belongings with these two questions in mind:
- Do I own it, or does it own me?
- Can this be a blessing to someone else (donate), or has it lived its full life already (trash)?
I was then left with a few bag-fulls of items to donate and a couple of bags of worn, torn, stained clothing to trash. At this point, I wondered, "Why on earth do I have so much excess clothing?" It owned me. I made excuses, "I'll fix that torn seam some day." Or "It's just a little stain." Or "I'll wear that someday (when I go to a ball with the Queen of England...)." Haha! And then my personal fave... I'll wear that oversized piece again when I'm pregnant one day...someday...in a few years.
Finally, I came to a deeper understanding of the value of things and that they can have a negative value. I sorted and sorted. Drank wine and listened to Adele. Teared up a little...DON'T JUDGE ME! And finally, I parted ways with the stuff that have been owning me.
That was two weeks ago, and you know what? I don't miss a single thing!
I'm ready to move into 2018 with a clean slate and without: corporate wear, stiletto "art pieces", trashy party dresses, purses I don't use, the last 3 years worth of Halloween costumes, t-shirts I never wear, a DVD player (like who needs one anymore?!), hair thingies that won't be cool again for another 20 years, and so much more.
Can I admit something embarrassing? I found some items given to me as a joke during my bridal shower that I won't ever wear. The embarrassing part is that I kept them because they were sentimental...double eyeroll. Until now.
Okay...now that we've gotten wayyy too personal :P
Let me ask you: Is there stuff in your home that owns you? Stuff you spend time cleaning, maintaining, moving, yet brings no real value? Stuff that someone else had, so you bought it, only to realize you don't really want it? Stuff that can truly be a blessing to someone else?
Get rid of it!
Take it out of your life. Because (1) you're going to think clearer with less clutter and excess around you, and (2) God has BIG THINGS in store for you in 2018! Let go of the excess stuff in your hands so you can cling to the new blessings!
What does the Bible say about clutter?
Good question! Jesus said:
Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.
And later in the chapter, Jesus talks about being anxious over stuff and concludes with this directive:
Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Isn't it interesting that Jesus connects anxiety with stuff? I totally get it!!! When my home is a mess, clutter and excess all around, things I don't need that distract me, I get anxious. I can't focus. I can't think clearly on what I'm working on. Jesus is telling us to have less in order to have more:
Less stuff, more heavenly reward.
Less anxiety, more focus for our hearts.
Jesus understood the relationship between stuff, money, human emotion, heartstrings, anxiety -- all of it! -- before we even had cars, wifi, the new *new* iPhone, and online ordering. He knew! And He gave the solution that has stood the test of time: Sometimes less is more. ;)
it's just stuff
I could probably devote an entirely separate post to this additional idea, but I'll just leave it here for now... As I think about the larger implication of cleaning out things that drain me and don't add to my life, I realize I've let some people slide along in my life who aren't meant to be with me going forward. People who were fine for my past but not helpful for the greater things happening in the future. I'm still pondering what this means for the new year, but I couldn't leave you thinking this is all about stuff. It's not. It's about trusting God to bring better people and things into your life. And from a place of trust, you can release the old.
As a disclaimer: I still have a lot of work to do in my house. Cupboards that need cleaning, shelves that need decluttering, a number of junk drawers. But I'm now ready to release the old because I know God has so much more for me to receive.
Hey go back
If you didn't click the article/movie links above, I encourage you to go back and at least read the article. It takes about 5 minutes, and I think it will be an encouragement to you if you're like me and need that extra "Go girl!" boost to let go of things.
As is often the case, it's not easy, but it's well worth it.
Wishing you a clearer mind to focus on the important things! Especially this Christmas + holiday season!
P.S. For further Bible reading, check out: Genesis 12:1, Isaiah 43:19, and Revelation 21:5.
*Priska Jordan is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.