"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!
Ah this was such a keeper! Yes, friend- this is the real and raw place I have been for a good 18 months. Our first child- our son and middle kiddo- left the nest to begin his job 7 days after his college graduation and after 10 beautiful years of homeschooling and 4 years of his commuting to the local university he wasn't there and we ALL mourned his presence!! Then we finished homeschooling our youngest, moved after 27 years of marriage, I turned 50 and we moved to an area where I knew no one...new neighborhood, new church, new friendships, new stores, new roads, our son's engagement, the new adventure of menopause...same Jesus!! I found that keeping many, many pictures of the kids as little ones out and about kept ripping off the scab that would daily form over my raw heart- I needed to put those precious pictures in albums a bit out of sight and stick to current pics of the growing family and daily clinging to the Lord and His WORDS of great comfort. Then I shifted my focus to praying, praying, praying for my babes....healing is coming!ReplyDelete
Dear Becky, Oh how I appreciated reading your story! I am so thankful you shared this, and I can surely relate to so much of it. Yes, my friend, healing is coming. It is sometimes a slow process, but God is faithful each step of the way. I am eternally grateful that we walk through this life with the continual knowledge that "underneath are the everlasting arms." Regardless what we face, He is there with us always. Thank you so much for your sweet visit and kind words! God bless you as you press on!Delete
Dear Cheryl - it is indeed hard to let go of things that mean so much to us. I find it very hard to do and I struggle with it. The other day I was thinking to myself - where did my charm bracelet go that I had in high school? That was such a "thing" in those days to have a charm bracelet with charms depicting parts of my life then. I don't know where it went to - did I perhaps discard it years ago thinking it was time to let it go? Possibly, but I can say it isn't here any longer. I thought about it for a day and then had to make my mind "let it go". You are to be congratulated for the effort you have made to downsize your belongings, to take photos of the items and, yes, to keep some that are special. It is a continual journey. Take care dear friend.ReplyDelete
Oh, bless your heart! I know you miss that bracelet, but I am so proud of you for submitting your concerns to the Lord and letting them go. It surely is a continual journey, and it seems we are met with new challenges all along the way. SO thankful we have a faithful Savior Who will never leave or forsake us through it all. Thank you so much for sharing your heart here, my friend! Many blessings to you today.Delete
I've been on my decluttering journey for years. I've read everything I could find. Books, blogs, emails, all. Your email today was different. If I change your son's name to my son's name, I could've written your post myself. For some reason, YOUR post spoke to my heart. I think now I can finally let go of the precious things that have always been the one hurdle I couldn't get over. May God bless you for sharing this.ReplyDelete
I cannot begin to tell you how touched and moved I was by your words. I read them shortly after receiving some very discouraging news, and I know the dear Lord knew how much I would need this encouragement right at that moment. We never know when we leave comments just how much they will be needed on the other end. If this post helps you on your journey, I am eternally grateful. May the Lord help you, uphold you, and comfort you through every difficult moment. I am praying for you and thank you so much for sharing with us here!Delete
Oh Dear Cheryl, I am praying for you in that precious place of letting go of the stuff of your son's growing years, so that you can be more free to hold onto the faithfulness of God through it all. He continues to ask me to let go of the ways of living that I used to hold onto, so that He can help me be more free in this new place where He has me. That letting go is so hard, but He is so near to us the whole way! Thank you for sharing your beautiful heart with us here! Blessings and love to you!ReplyDelete
Dear Bettie! Your prayers, support, encouragement, and friendship are precious gifts to me! Letting go of ways of living, so He can help us be more free in this new place He has for us ~ what a wonderful way of putting all of this into words! I know your life is so different, dear friend, and I so appreciate your sweet spirit in the midst of your suffering. I am praying for you and trusting Jesus that you are finding some relief today. Many blessings and much love to you, too!Delete
Dearest Cheryl, what a beautiful post my friend. We share in God’s goodness! Our son was born in our 13th year of marriage after we had been told we would never have children. God’s goodness is overwhelming! I know how hard it is to let go of the tangible memories of his childhood. I must say that my hubby kept so many of our son’s toys and our sweet granddaughter is now enjoying them! Sending love and hugs on this Sunday morning!ReplyDelete
Oh, wow, Pam! That is amazing to hear how much we have in common! I LOVE that your hubby saved some of your son's toys, and now little Ella Mae can enjoy them. What joy it must bring to see her doing that! Sending much love and many hugs back your way today!Delete
Hello Cheryl, I saw that you posted days ago and I read your precious wordsthen. I wanted to comment but it has been a very busy weekend with three, yes three funerals at church on Saturday and a chili cook off after services on Sunday as a fundraiser for the youth. Yesterday I had an eye appointment and couldn’t see the computer afterwards and this morning I had physical therapy. A busy, busy few days but it is giving me time to let your words sit in my heart for a while.ReplyDelete
We have three children. Three pieces of my heart, living in separate bodies. All grown and living far away. Three grandchildren equally as far away. I have photos of them all over the house, but I have learned to let go of many other things. We know that we will be moving somewhere smaller within the next few years. This house is just too big and we don’t want it or need it anymore. And as I packed boxes up for the Goodwill I also agonized over them. But just as you discovered, I really haven’t missed any of those things I got rid of and held onto so tightly. I would even venture to say I never think of them and if you were to ask me what I got rid of it would take some thought to remember. I have kept the outfit that each child came home from the hospital in and have given those to them as they had their children. I had the joy of knowing they brought their firstborn home from the hospital in the same outfit. They also each have the first blanket I ever made them. Other than that, everything is gone and donated. I did the same thing with books. I kept a few favorites of my husbands and mine and the rest went to the Goodwill. The amazing thing is, I look around our house and it has just as much stuff as before! It’s quite a journey.
Many blessings my friend, Betsy
Oh, Betsy! Your comment was just precious to me! I am SO sorry for all of the loss your church is going through. Three funerals in one week, wow, that is just so sad. Your words about your three children and your minimizing journey were just so touching. That is SO neat that your three grandchildren were brought home in the same outfits as your three children! What a blessing that is! I loved reading your words. They were so comforting to me. I know what you mean. We have literally released about 90% of our things, and I look at our much smaller place now and think we still have way too much excess. We continue to work on it steadily, and it seems like if we give certain things some time and then revisit them a few months later, we soften to the idea of letting them go even more. So, we continue to press on, don't we, dear friend? I trust God to lead and guide you as you think of moving and letting go of your house and downsizing. I know you want to be nearer to your dear family, and I trust the Lord will make that happen for you and give you many quality years with them. Sending hugs and many blessings to you todayDelete
Hi... Just an idea for you since you enjoy Pinterest. Set up a private "Memories" board. Upload your photos from the camera to the Pinterest board. You can look at them anytime from anywhere, and you can also free up space on your camera card to capture more memories!ReplyDelete
Barb, I think you are a genius!! What an amazing idea! I just love it! Thank you so much for stopping and taking the time to comment and leave such a great suggestion. Many blessings to you!Delete
Hi Sweet Friend, The Lord taught me early on that things here on earth are only temporary. I have had so many memories wiped out and lost forever. My sons early years on VHS were accidentally taped over; the first cruise my husband and I went on to a tropical island's photo memories are gone because our camera was stolen right out of our luggage on the ship; cherished items of special meaning have been accidentally broken. As a result, I don't tend to hold on to things too tightly anymore. It doesn't mean those lost memories don't hurt, but there is nothing I can do about it now and so I guess to avoid getting hurt again, I hold on very loosely to sentimental things.ReplyDelete
BUT I LOVE your idea of taking pictures of special items, especially as you say now in the digital age. I use Google photos so no matter what picture I take on any given day, it is automatically transferred and stored on my Google photos account.
Your precious heart just touches me so much. You put love and care into everything that you touch and that touches you.
Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom here.
Sending you much love and gratitude.
Oh, no! I can't even imagine how much it must have hurt to have your son's early years on VHS taped over! I can see why you have learned to hold things loosely, bless your dear heart! Thank you so much for your kind words and the continual blessing you are to me, sweet friend. Sending much love and gratitude back to you!Delete
Baby stuff... sigh. I am not ready for mine to grow up either!ReplyDelete
It is so hard, isn't it? God bless you as you walk this path, Sandi!Delete
Hi. I am new to minimalism. And like you, I also want to do it in a Biblical perspective. Your post inspires me to embrace minimalism more joyfully as I let go of the things that keep me from focusing on the things that truly matter.ReplyDelete
That is so wonderful! All glory to Jesus for inspiring you here! I am so blessed by your visit and kind words today and trust the Lord will continue to lead and guide you as you let go of that hinders you in this Christian walk. Thank you so much for reading and leaving such sweet encouragement!Delete
I joined the 40 bags in 40 days challenge for Lent, and it helped me to see our downsizing as an offering to the poor. I love what you wrote here.ReplyDelete
Praise the Lord for your testimony! That is just wonderful how the Lord revealed this to you. It truly is an offering that is so pleasing to God when we let go of our excess to meet the needs of others. It is Jesus' way of life, and there is great comfort and peace to be found when we follow Him and live as He lived while on earth. So thankful for your presence here and for your encouragement!Delete