Editorial: Learning to Let Go

I have a lot on my mind and not a lot to say — although I wish I could. I’ve got thoughts swirling around about the scriptural role of women and whether or not they can be in leadership, I’m still floating on cloud nine with adoration for Fox’s new series Alcatraz, and formatting all the Femnista submissions has me thinking in-depth about Dickens. I’m still sorting out my thoughts on Sherlock‘s second season and have a lot of things to say about it, not the least of which is how much I adore Benedict Cumberbach in the role. Finally, a Holmes I can have a legitimate crush on! I’ve also changed up some products in my bathroom that you might be interested in… but it’ll have to wait. Instead, I bring you this week’s editorial, from my “other job.”

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In some ways, I am very much like my mother. We both get ideas late at night and then cannot sleep. We want things to look nice and function well, and organize things. But she has no problem “throwing stuff away.”

That’s where we differ. Mom chucks stuff out without a second thought. I don’t. I like it. I might use it at some point. What if I need it? Isn’t it wasteful to throw it away?

Irony is… I’m not that sentimental. I keep birthday cards… why? Sure, they are cute and contain love, but that love isn’t going anywhere and they are just taking up room in a box on an office shelf.

People have said that those who lived through the depression are packrats, because they learned what it is like to go without. I believe it’s an excuse to cover up the fact that most of us are packrats. Some of you aren’t and you’re lucky but then there is the rest of us… those who have 10 Tupperware containers where 5 would do, who keep jars and lids, and wash out and keep peanut butter containers (or margarine tubs!). We keep clothes we don’t like or that don’t fit because it feels wrong to get rid of them, and have a phobia about throwing out products we don’t use. After all, we paid good money for them so we should use them, but we don’t. There are books we never read, games we never play, movies we never watch, shoes we never wear and so forth. Our lives are full of clutter. And you know what? Even if it’s hidden away in a drawer or a closet or under your sink… it bugs you. You know it’s there, you don’t know what to do with it, and subconsciously it is giving you stress, even if you are not aware of it.

Mom doesn’t have that issue. She often goes through her stuff and gives or throws it away. I had some time off recently and was tired from a lot of “brain work” so I decided to take the day off from writing and do something around the house: not just spring clean but to “detox” my home.

Out came the trash bags and the real struggle began. I started in my bedroom. In some instances I knew I didn’t need it, but in others there was more hesitation. I had to force myself to put stuff in the bag. I then moved to my clothes and decided not to second-guess anything. Be harsh, don’t use your emotions, use logic. That made it easier. I threw out anything I never wear, don’t like, itches, or is too big. In the bathroom, 80% of my hair products, old shampoos, etc., went in the trash. The kitchen supplied me with a full trash bag and a half of cleaning products and old Teflon pans. In the office, I shredded my way through two trash bags full of paper, among a lot of other stuff. I then set about organizing every room, cleaning as I went. My entire house was spick and span and organized in one day. It felt good. I have more room in my closets and great peace of mind, because I am not wondering what to do with my “stuff.” The more stuff you have, the more you have to worry over it… what to do with it, where to keep it, how to keep an eye on it. It clutters your life and your soul. Mom has the right idea: if you let go early on, you won’t have to learn to let go later. It was hard to throw or give some stuff away, but once it was in the bag and “gone,” I didn’t miss it anymore. What prevents us from letting go of anything, be it clutter or clothing or people or habits, is fear. It dominates our lives; we are enslaved to it, because we’re afraid of what might happen if we do “let go.”

What would happen? You might need it. If so, then what? How often would you need it? How long would you have stored it, and moved it around your house? Fear makes you keep it even though you never use it. Fear of abandoning the past, of moving into the future, or changing. Fear that if you let this go, you will never find anything better.

God sometimes tells us to “let go.” We don’t want to. We like our lives how they are. What if we don’t like the new life He has planned for us? What if it isn’t better? The thing is… it is better, if nothing else than because you were willing to try. Yes, it is hard to give things up, but in the end it is worth it.

For your health, for your house, and for your soul. ♥

4 Replies to “Editorial: Learning to Let Go”

  1. I’ve been having the same thoughts as your mum since mid-2011. it may have something to do with the smallness of my rented room, my busier life, or the fact that as a student/graduate I’ve moved house 4 times in the past 5 years, but I just wanted my life to be simpler, full of less Stuff, less hastle and mess. Even my beloved books recently had a (gentle!) cull. I stopped buying bathroom products about a year ago and instead have been slowly using up all the bottles that have been given to me as presents over the years. I never got round to using them, because they weren’t my normal products, but they’d just been sitting there the entire time! Why? What for? What a waste! Either use ’em up or pass ’em on to someone else who will!

    I’m on the last few products now and it’s really exciting every time I use one up and get to start a new one. Every time I reach for something in the supermarket I do a mental check “Do I really need this? No? Then do I really want it as much as I think I do?” You save money, space, and suddenly begin to appreciate the little things. Every item in my wardrobe, I love and wear regularly. Every treat I do give myself, I appreciate so much more. I’m loving it.

  2. I know just what you mean! I have somehow gotten on a purging/organizing kick this new year (an unconscious resolution, perhaps) and it’s kind of fun seeing how things shape up.

  3. I try not to be a hoarder, and when I got married, I was merciless throwing things out. But I have a couple drawers and boxes with “stuff” in them, stuff I should go through and probably go through. The worst hoarder I know, though, is Ginny. If a box goes in the recycling bin, you can trust she’ll be down to get it. Her rooms upstairs are crammed with stuff, and she’s always trying to buy more! It’s definitely an inspiration to not keep so much stuff. 😉

  4. My aunt cannot get rid of ANYTHING in her house – she likes “old” things and envisions one day decorating with some of the weirdest-looking things… and yeah, she still hasn’t after all these years! We often tease her about it, and her daughter, Liz has to encourage her to get rid of things here and there. I think little by little she is getting rid of things – and for that her house probably DOES thank her. ;D

    (Your day of organizing reminds me just how badly I need to do that!)

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