"And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful." Colossians 3:15 (KJV)
My family and I have been on another downsizing purge, and the process has been a mixture of highs and lows. I have cried as we have pulled out crates that haven't been opened in a long time and memories of what used to be have spilled out along with the contents of the crates. Whew! No one could ever prepare you for the side of parenting that involves coming to a point of being able to embrace the reality that your child(ren) is/are no longer little. The thing that is finally sinking into me is that keeping our son, Zachary's younger clothes will not magically take us back to those childhood days. Clinging to every homeschool workbook will not offer a bridge to step back in time and relive those moments side by side, studying, teaching, and learning together. I have cherished every single moment of this journey, and I will forever be grateful to God for allowing it to happen, but keeping the physical items that remind me of those long days that turned into such short years will never take us back. We have to live life moving forward. As hard as it is, we have to let the past go, and a big part of that is the release of stuff we have accumulated along the way. Stuff becomes heavy. It weighs us down. It causes us to worry. It takes us space, and far too often, it can make us sad.
As I sorted through some things yesterday, the inward struggle was real. Long-buried feelings and emotions steadily rose to the surface, as I felt a sense of loss over the speed at which Zach has grown up. How did we get here so quickly? Where did the time go? I don't feel ready for him to already be 18, but here we are, ready or not. I look at our dear boy, and it seems like only yesterday that we were praying for God to send us a baby of our own. After many years of infertility struggles and 12 1/2 years of marriage, He finally answered those earnest, Hannah-like prayers and gave us the deep desire of our hearts. I still remember the overwhelming feeling of love and devotion I felt that first moment they placed him in my arms. It feels like such a short time ago.
As I wrestled with such deep, raw emotions, I took out the little camera I carry in my purse, and I began to take pictures of the things I decided to give up. As I snapped away, an epiphany that many of you have probably long ago experienced suddenly became crystal clear to me. Sometimes the most basic wisdom can be so overlooked when it is right under my nose! In case anyone else is struggling, I wanted to share the comfort I found.
1. Pictures stored on digital cameras or an electronic device take up no additional physical space. The little camera is no more cumbersome than it was before I snapped those photos. It still fits neatly in the side pocket of the inside of my purse. Keeping all of those memory-packed crates, on the other hand, takes up a lot of space. For some reason, I find an enormous sense of satisfaction in looking into the white space of an empty crate.
2. Seeing is as good as feeling. Looking at an item can bring the same amount of joy as being able to physically touch it. I can take out the little camera anytime I choose, and I can look at the things that have meant so much to me through the years. Seeing them on a camera screen evokes the same emotions as taking them out of a heavy-laden crate every two or three years and holding them in my hands.
3. Someone else can make use of the things I insist on hoarding. There are children who can wear the gently-used clothing that I so carefully stowed away all those years ago. Christian homeschool curriculum that I have clung to so tightly can come alive again in the hands of another homeschool mama and mold the mind of her learning child.
4. The lighter feeling I have after letting go is worth the pain. Lugging this stuff around is cumbersome. I may shed tears while dropping it, item by item, into a cardboard box headed for Goodwill, but once its gone, I seldom think of it again. Instead of mourning it, I almost always feel a sense of relief to know that I have less stuff to be concerned about.
5. In the midst of all of this, it is okay to keep the things that mean the most. I am holding onto certain things simply because they are comforting and dear to my heart. Sometimes, it comes down to the simple act of making a choice. Instead of keeping every single childhood toy, I am choosing to keep a few small ones that hold the strongest and happiest memories.
My dear husband always tells me to do the thing that brings me peace. I am learning the depth of wisdom in that. The verse I chose for this devotional is Colossians 3:15. It gives two basic instructions. 1. Let the peace of God rule in your hearts. 2. Be thankful. I am finding that it brings more peace to let certain things go, and I am deeply thankful for the memories attached to those things. Giving them away will not remove their memory, and the peace that comes from not having to deal with their weightiness is worth the pain of letting go.
Are you on a minimizing journey? What are some of the things you are doing to soften the pain of letting go? I'd love to read your ideas and suggestions! Please take a moment to leave a comment below before you leave!
God bless you on your journey!