With the end of the year for me always comes the ‘Great Purge’ – a time to get rid of unnecessary things in my life, or as Paul so eloquently puts it: ‘strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up‘ (Hebrews 12:1). Of course the first step to doing that was getting rid of unnecessary belongings.
You know how Jesus tells the dude who comes to him asking about what to do to have eternal life to go sell all his belongings and give to the poor? The dude ended up sulking away because the thought of leaving everything he had acquired to follow Jesus was unimagineable. What Jesus was getting at in this passage in Matthew 19 was a heart issue that a lot of us have: we place more value in our belongings, what they say about us, and the supposed value they give to us than what Jesus does.
Unpacking in my new apartment, I realized just how much stuff I’d held on to – things I’d never worn, and others I probably never would have. There were clothes I honestly have no idea why I purchased because I wouldn’t be caught dead in them today. And yet it was so hard letting go of them. I felt like I had to keep them, that somehow giving them away would be an unimaginable loss. If I’m being one hundred percent honest, my first attempt at purging was highly unsuccessful. I kept thinking, ‘But what if I need this one day?’, and then I’d pack it away with the rest of my clothes. But two things motivated me to have another go at it. The first was the fact that while my new apartment has a generous amount of space comparatively to most NYC apartments, it still doesn’t rival the walk-in closet I used to have. No way I’d find a way to keep all my belongings without cluttering my room, and I like wide open spaces way too much for that.
Secondly, as I thought about it, I am constantly evolving and growing – and my style along with me. Half of these clothes were not accurate representations of who I was or who I want to be in the next few years. They had to go. Plus, I’d buy new clothes whether they stayed or went. No way tossing them would leave me naked.
So I came up with a game plan. I would ask myself a few questions, and based on the answers, an item would either stay or go:
- Do you need it?
- Does it fit you?
- Have you worn it in the last three months?
- Will you wear it when ‘X’ season comes around?
- Is it still something you’d consider to be your style?
- When you wear it, do you feel comfortable?
By the end of the day I ended up with 6 bags full of clothes that will be going to donations!
I also proposed a game plan for the future: for every one piece of clothing I buy, one has to go. This means I will have to love and need whatever I buy next, and I will end up with only the clothes I truly truly need.
Of course, I had to create a flow chart to help you guys navigate the Purge, should you decide your own life needs a little de-cluttering.
Up Next: De-cluttering my spiritual life!