Monday, April 15, 2013

On A Mission

It all happened really quickly. Truthfully, I knew it was happening but didn't realize the extent. Or the damage.

Of what, you may ask?

Of the clutter in our home.

It may seem a bit trifle but if you'll hang with me a bit, I hope to show you just how significant and important the amount of clutter can be in your life, to those around you, and in the spiritual development of your children.

Seem a bit far fetched? Read on.

I remember being newly married. Not only was I newly married, but we had gotten married, went on our honeymoon, came home and moved 2 1/2 hrs. away from our family and friends for a job my husband had taken. To say it was an adjustment would be a gross understatement. I was adjusting to being married, to being in college at a new university, to living outside my parents' home, to not being near my family, my friends... It was hard.

In hindsight, the amount of "stuff" we brought with us didn't make things any easier. And truth be told, we didn't have that much back then. We lived in a 1 bedroom apartment, yet it was packed to the brim. So much so the shelving in the closet collapsed at one point sending junk all over, game pieces to be found, sheet rock to be cleaned up, and holes to be patched. It was frustrating.

It was always cluttered. Not so much in the living room, but in our bedroom. And I hated it. I couldn't ever seem to be caught up or find a home for everything, so it got shoved in the closet or under a bed or in a corner somewhere.

And I always complained because I hated it. I hated that disorganized feeling. Yet I didn't know the deeper reason of why I felt like that.

A year later when we moved into our 3 bedroom, 2 bath home with a basement and garage I thought "Wow. Look at all the room!!"

It didn't take us long to realize that we had more in that 1 bedroom apartment than we realized and now we had almost filled our house. Before too long, there was a room designated as the junk room. If I didn't know where to put something or if I didn't have a home for it but couldn't seem to part with it, that's where it got put. I hated this too. Because a junk room can only be a junk room for so long, particularly if you fill it to the brim or if you have guests that come to visit and need a place to stay. After all, it's incredibly inconsiderate to have space for family and friends and not use it because of an inability to part with things I never even used.

I was forced to clean that room when people were coming for an overnight stay. And then I'd find a home for the things I thought didn't have a home. And you know where that usually was?

Yep. In the garage.

It was a mess. And then fast forward a few years and now we have 2 kids, another one that'll be here in a few months, a cat, and 4 chickens (don't ask).

I thought I had it under control. And for awhile, I kind of did. Once I determined it was absurd to keep piling stuff in a room only to have to clean it out every few months when we had overnight guests, it got better. In part because that room was turned into a nursery. And then when we had our 2nd, the office was turned into another bedroom. And our room? Well, it doubles up as our room but also our office.... and now kind of the designated junk room.

Once the kids got here, it forced us to create a spot for them. And it was great! We had yard sales at least twice a year to just get rid of the junk that came into our home that we no longer had use for or no longer needed or wanted. And certainly with 2 kids (16 months apart at that) we had an abundance of stuff that needed cleared out.

But the past couple of years caught me off guard. I'm not sure what happened other than life and well, one year passed, then another and no yard sales happened. No giving away, donating. And now our kids' rooms are overflowing with toys they not only don't need, but don't play with. Our garage is a storage area instead of a place to park and our room, well, it's not the safe haven, intimate area I'd like it to be. It's kind of the catch all room.

So when my bestie sent me a text asking if I'd like to go in with her to rent a booth at the local flea market, I jumped at the opportunity. And literally, just days later, we had our booth up and running.

Now 250 items later, I'm looking around thinking "I can't even tell I've taken anything up there." And no, I'm not kidding. It's that bad. And the reality is that if you're ever at our house you wouldn't really notice. I can't stand clutter. It makes me anxious and overwhelmed. And so, it gets put in the garage (or in cabinets and under living room shelves). Out of sight, out of mind, right? Well, until you can barely walk in the garage. And until you pull stuff from the garage to price for the local consignment sales only to miss the deadline and now it's piled up in our bedroom.... heaping over out of the tote, mounded in the floor around it. And I can't stand it.

So, what's the point of me sharing all that?

Frustration. That's the point.

Clutter = frustration.

And more importantly, clutter (and hoarding) are signs of a deeper heart issue of discontentment. It boldly proclaims like few things can: "I'm attached to 'stuff.'" "I seek my worth out of buying things, acquiring them, or merely refusing to let anything go." or "I care more about keeping this item I never use than I do about giving it to someone who could benefit from having it."

I am not that person nor do I want to be that person.

The bigger question of why I felt frustrated all the time? God calls us to simplicity. He calls us to sell everything we have and give to the poor, homeless, and orphaned. He calls us to love Him above everything else. Above our family, our house, our cars, our I-phones, Ipods, Ipads, Ijunk..... whatever equates to our 'stuff'.

The discontentment I felt was because I cared more about keeping the 'stuff' than living a life of simplicity.. The discontentment was also that God calls us as wives to be keepers of the home. I cannot be an adequate keeper of my home when it's stuffed to the brim with junk. It's near impossible to keep a house clean when it's overfilled. It's a constant struggle of picking up toys, trying to find a home for things that don't need a home or that can't be put anywhere because of lack of space. It's a re-shuffling of sorts and nothing ever gets done.

I refuse to be discontent. I am beyond blessed. And the bigger picture here is what I'm teaching my children.

On one hand, they get it. They understand that there are those less fortunate. They often will make statements about putting toys away for the shoe boxes we fill each Fall to send to those across the world who literally have next to nothing. But on the other. Well, it's not that simple. They have meltdowns when I ask them to go through their stuff and choose things to get rid of. They're rough with their toys and break things and then act like it's nothing because they know a birthday or Christmas, or some other holiday will be right around the corner. And I despise that.

I not only despise that, it infuriates me.

And I'm to blame.

I've allowed too much to come into our home and too little to go out.

So, I'm on a mission.

And the buck stops here.

I cannot expect them to have a heart for others, to live a life of simplicity, to learn and live contentment if we don't model it and expect them to do the same.

So, we're donating things. A lot to our local Pregnancy Resource Center. And we're selling a lot of things at my flea market booth. Might it be a slow process? Yes. I find myself wanting to spend all day, everyday finding stuff, pricing it, and taking it out of our home. Yet I also must balance that with my need to care for my family and be a keeper of the home.

I'm very much looking forward to having less. Less stuff to pick up. Less stuff to dust around and under. Less stuff to shuffle here, there, and everywhere because I can't find a home for it. Less frustration and stress, particularly when having guests over because I have high standards for what our home looks like for guests. It's a matter of ensuring they're comfortable in our home. That they feel welcome. That they know we took time to prepare for them and care that they've come to visit us. And a clean, clutter free home relays all of those things. And the best part? It makes it easier for me because I have less to do.

Less is more. So much more. And not only that, but so many others can benefit from us having less and giving more.

I'm on a mission.

Won't you join me?

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