"Declutter your stuff. Uncover your life."--Joshua Becker, Becoming Minimalist
Truth time: I’m on a relentless mission to cleanse our home of everything that clutters and takes up space. And by cleanse, I mean remove.
The act of walking through every square inch of our home and physically removing unwanted objects has been on my to-do list for quite a while now…I’ve just ended up choosing more favorable activities instead.
Questioning the order of my days and how I spend my time came to the forefront of my mind after a tragedy took place in a family we’d be praying for. The event jarred me and woke me up, in a sense.
I was once again reminded of the sacredness of each day and how I spend those hours matters greatly. My resolve to pour wholeheartedly into others (and myself) was re-ignited, and I realized that I couldn’t fully live to my best abilities if I was spending inordinate amounts of time organizing items that no longer belong in our home. In the words of Annie Dillard, “How we spend our days is of course, how we spend our lives.”
Wow, mind blown.
So…the purging project was birthed, both out of mental frustration but also as a tangible means to create more margin and to usher in clarity and direction.
Just as I purge my soul of old wounds or thought patterns, I want to do the same with the physical items that inhabit my home—these items that prevent me from creativity or undistracted time with others.
So, for anyone else in the purging trenches with me, I offer the following words of encouragement:
Start somewhere easy.
For me, no-brainer throwaways are all the old files in need of shredding and papers from my grad school days. How we schlepped a file cabinet full of unneeded papers across this country is beyond me, but it is what it is, so in the recycle bin they go, task complete and on to other easy removals.
Make it a family affair.
As daytime dwindles and the bathwater fills the tub, I turn on music and my girls and I have a “purge party.” We make it a fun game to throw away trash, sort through items they’ve outgrown, and put in boxes items to give away. Setting a definitive time to work on decluttering helps to keep us focused on the task at hand (a helpful tip for individuals who become easily distracted like my oldest and myself!)
Silence the bully.
While friends gushed about the freeing, life-altering effects of the KonMari Method a few years back, I was in a season of grief and I lacked the mental capacity to purge items that accumulated after my gram’s death. So now when I start removing items, I hear one of two voices: the bully side of my soul who sneers accusations like, “How did you let things get this out of control? What’s wrong with you? You stink at life.” And then the grace side that declares, “Don’t listen to the self-blame talk. It is what it is, accept it, and move forward.” Choosing to listen to grace rather than bully talk enables us to remain resolute.
Be in tune with the internal.
Take breaks when you become overwhelmed; give yourself rewards for completion; and be cognizant of what emotions arise during your purge project. Ask yourself questions along the way, such as:
“Does this object deserve to belong in my home?” and “What steps do I need to take to ensure certain items don’t build up again?”
“How do I feel when I’m home? If not fully at rest, what do I need to change?”
“How do I want others to feel when they come into my home?”
Be in tune with how your internal reacts to the external act of removal. Does it create space within? Do you feel lighter and freer?
This purge project of mine is teaching me to recognize more readily how my external environment impacts my internal, and what I need to do to streamline our household. It’s teaching me how to persevere and to be patient with myself, knowing that I’m undoing a lot of easy fallbacks and behavioral patterns that I’ve walked in for years (e.g. neglecting my junk mail pile). And it’s teaching me more about connection, relationships, and the people important to me.
In the process, I’m discovering more about myself, uncovering my life, and uncovering my soul. I hope the same is true for you.
Share any helpful purging tips you have!