I hesitate as I write this because Jesus warns in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5, 6 and 7) of bragging about your works of sacrifice. I also hesitate because what I am about to say sounds straight-up crazy.
For Lent I have chosen to give up approximately 80% of my personal belongings.
There. It’s in print. Or pixels, at least. It’s out there in the world for my own accountability and hopefully as inspiration as I was inspired by others. Check out these folks I read about that are making drastic changes to their ownership of objects around them:
The 100TC (100 Things Challenge). This guy Dave (there are links to his blog and book on the site) started a movement that is anti-consumerism for the sake of pro-personal awareness. The three simple principles are Reduce, Refuse, and Rejigger which basically means eliminate unnecessary objects to create the simplest life possible. This will make you aware of the things that ACTUALLY matter like family and the divine. There are COUNTLESS people doing this and writing about it online. Just search 100TC.
Another post I relate to is The 40 Hanger Closet. Ruth Soukup at LivingWellSpendingLess.com writes about wrangling her closet and has these really great photos of the mess (thanks for being candid!) and what it looks like after (like a drool-worthy magazine ad for an expensive closet system). My closet has been stuffed for years, and I finally have a nicely sized walk-in that I don’t have to share with anyone and I have always wanted to have a WARDROBE, not just A BUNCH OF CLOTHES.
Courtney Carver writes on her site Be More with Less about her own 100TC. She paired down her personal things to a total of 100, but it is mostly her closet items and I LOVE her rules–strict but open to adaptation as her life unfolds. The main thing I love about her post is that she shares her list.
Also have to give a nod to this awesome chart I pinned awhile back (found on theBerry.com):
What I love about each of these challenges/rules/processes is that to keep or not to keep is MY CHOICE. In the moment of making the choice I GAIN CONTROL BACK that the object took up in my space and in my mind. The pieces I decide to keep become more meaningful as I let other things go. And wow does it feel good to let things go.
I started with my crafting supplies. An epic collection, let me tell you: yarn in cones, skeins and balls, bolts and rolls of fabric, old clothes from which to harvest fabric, soap making, wood working, a library of how-to-make-things books, a cutting table, a light table, a filing cabinet of paper, punches, scrapbooking supplies, rubber stamps, washi tape, duct tape, cello tape, two sewing machines, three dressmakers’ forms, sewing patterns, trims, notions, needle felting, plastic canvas, painting canvas, acrylic, oil, and watercolor supplies, old frames, old canvas boards, wrapping supplies, ribbon… it is stressing me out just writing the list, considering all those unfinished projects. The room, which is not very big, was filled with so many things I had no space to make anything at all–not the creative space I always envisioned when we moved to this house.
I decided for Lent that I would give as much as I could stand to our church’s craft ministry. Better they make use of it than it sit. The 80% began as arbitrary, like saying “a thousand” when you just mean “a whole darn lot.” But I took it seriously, 80%, and as I pushed forward the momentum pulled me on. The kitchen was next.
Four huge boxes of kitchen accouterments later, I can open the cabinets and drawers with ease AND my mind is at ease knowing that nothing is duplicated, nothing is there without a true purpose.
This week I will do my closet. Then the girls’ clothes. And John is talking about letting some of his clothes go, too. This feeling is infectious.
Over the last three weeks, I have emptied our house of six carloads of stuff. That’s about floor to ceiling the size of our bedroom. And I’m not done yet. I am excited to see what is left at the end of this Lenten process, but also what will fill the space in the form of activities and time and love.
There is little to no hesitation in the moment of choice because I know the things are going to a good cause. (We chose the National Children’s Center because their thrift store/donation site is awesome and very close to our house.) And whenever I am faced with choosing between two pairs of black heels after I have committed to owning only one, I remind myself that should I ever really really NEED a specific pair of black heels, I can go buy a pair. I don’t need to fill my space for “maybe someday.”
I have come to see it this way: I LENT these things to the universe and if I truly need something, the universe with lend it back to me. For the first time in my life I am letting go and truly trusting that God will provide.
Happy Lent. 🙂