As 2015 began I felt especially passionate for a fresh beginning. Not so much a New Year’s resolution but a life resolution. For two years I’ve felt God pressing me to live simply. I wasn’t sure what living simply meant from God’s perspective but with time He’s given me little hints here and there. For instance, I realized I had too much stuff! You know things that get shoved in closets, cupboards, attics, and basements that probably won’t be used anytime soon if ever.
I’ve been slowly getting rid of things, which is not easy for me. Because I have experienced so much loss throughout my life, I unintentionally began counting on material things to make up for that loss. I developed relationships with things that held a good feeling in my memories.
Oh, I’m not a hoarder. I wouldn’t qualify for Clutter Queen or even as a runner up. I don’t have boxes piled up against every wall in my house. Things don’t always fall out of my closets when I open the doors, just sometimes. There’s no path through a maze of storage containers to follow to get around in my home. In fact, my house is quite open and airy except for the cupboards, closets, and basement.
Where does clutter come from anyway? Our lives change throughout the years. What we couldn’t do without way back when is no longer needed. Gifts we received we never wanted but feel obligated to keep, objects we had to duplicate because the original item was buried somewhere in our stuff, and sentimental things we can’t bear to get rid of find homes on our shelves and closets.
A kid’s special outfit, a favorite T-shirt we can’t squeeze into any longer, a shoebox of love letters from a sweetheart in the service. All these are precious and worth storing, but if it’s half a closet full of out-of style-clothing or clothing that quit fitting ten years ago, then it’s probably time to clear a few hangers. Or maybe there are the multiple sets of dishes we don’t use, or old camping gear in the garage we’ll never unpack because we do the timeshare thing now.
I read somewhere that if you have an emotional tie to a cherished object that no longer holds a place in your life, other than the emotional bond, and you wish to get rid of it take a picture for the memory’s sakes then give the item away or sell it. Yes! Why didn’t I think of that? I can still preserve the memory in photo-form without having to dust it or store it! Genius! That was one of those forehead-slapping epiphanies for me that propelled me to de-clutter and let go of things I couldn’t let go of before. Taking pictures of and then giving away treasures that reminded me of what used to be or what someday could be but hasn’t been freed me.
There’s no shortage of reasons to keep things, but if you’re keeping the non-working-grease-incrusted waffle iron grandma used to make your waffles, perhaps taking a picture of it would work.
With the new year came the usual ads for exercise equipment, gym specials, and weight loss. Stores ran price cuts on storage bins and baskets of every size, shape and style, echoing the organizing and de-cluttering advice of many magazine articles. As I looked through them something deep hit me. I can get rid 2/3 of the things in my home and live comfortably, yet still have that sense of clutter all around me.
How is that?
Living simply and de-cluttering is not just a matter of possessions. It’s also a matter of de-cluttering our hearts and minds. Things that weigh us down like old wounds, regret, unforgiveness, and jealousy. Disgruntled feelings clutter our heart shelves to the point we slam the door shut and don’t allow good things in because there is no room in our obsession with the other stuff. There’s often a pallet of emotions and memories that do nothing for us but collect emotional dust in the form of draining negative thoughts.
My mind and heart were super cluttered with woundings and injustices, and in a sense this clutter became like a turtle shell on my back. A tough covering nearly impossible to penetrate while at the same time a shell I could withdraw into the obscurity of sad thoughts. And guess what? That heart-darkening, fruitless clutter held me hostage.
As with the overstuffed closets, cupboards, attics, and basements in our homes, this mental and emotional clutter hogs valuable storage space in our hearts for the healthy side of life. When life has given you ruthless loads of emotional clutter which remain unresolved, we tend to look at everything else that comes our way through negatively-shaded lenses. Expecting more bad stuff. Believing that’s all we got coming.
The clutter of resentment, jealousy, assumptions, regrets, self-condemnation, fears, and insecurities, worrying about what other’s might think, and the he-said-she-said of life that we carry in our emotional backpack can so overwhelm us with its weight we can’t help but feel as dreary as winters’ most overcast day even in the midst of sunshine.
So how does one go about de-cluttering one’s mind/heart/soul? No one wants pictures of bad memories.
Well, this is how I have been doing it for myself, though I am just barely scratching the surface. Unlike physical de-cluttering, it takes more than three boxes or bags marked give away, keep, and throw away. But similarly to the physical de-cluttering we must ask ourselves for what good purpose these things take up space in our soul in the form of ailments, because those negative feelings are literally making you sick emotionally and physically. Just do a search on one of the biggest causes of illness. Hint—stress and negative emotions.
Stubborn feelings like unforgiveness, resentment, jealousy, assumptions, regrets, self-condemnation, fears, and insecurities are harder to dispose of because we keep restocking them when they return. And return they will. We must ask ourselves.
Do I need ____________ in my life?
If so, what the heck am I getting out of, say, unforgiveness. Do I feel that I would be letting the perpetrator (the person you struggle to forgive) off the hook by forgiving them?
Well, my friend, that depends on how much you enjoy being poisoned.
POISON! Whatcha talking about?
Yes, poison. Because by not forgiving someone you are poisoning your own self, keeping yourself unhealthy with this cluster of negative thoughts and energy circulating through your body. Evaluate how much time, energy, and wholesome thinking it takes from you to deal with unforgiveness?
It’s a matter of mind over matter, and bringing God into your unforgiveness. It’s not like your fooling Him anyway. You have to first agree to let go of one of these sickening ailments while placing each one in the arms of God. You may not see immediate relief but with time, you will see mind-blowing improvement, and may I add from experience you will feel the peace of mind.
Oh, and by the way…
I have been deeply wronged on serious multiple levels by many who claimed to care and know what a grip the roots of resentment can clutch into one’s soul. But it wasn’t until I finally let it go and let God take it ALL that I felt a deep sense of relief from within. However, it took a bit of repetitive action on my end like I had to keep returning the things I had already given to God but taken back. My forgiveness did NOT let the other people off the hook at all. They’ll still have to deal with God over it someday, but it let me off the hook of ill feelings and ill health.
May your new year be filled with an uncluttered heart.
By ~ Elizabeth Yalian 2013-2015 ©http://hiseyeisonthissparrow.com. ♛