Thursday, August 2, 2012

Day 12: When Decluttering Hurts (for all the wrong reasons)

I want to have less.  Less to care for, less to wash and sort and organize, less to steal my attention away from the things that matter.

And the more I give away and get rid of, the more I want to give things away.  I'm filling big rubber totes full of stuff for a local shelter that helps abused women get a fresh start.  I'm piling things in totes for a good friend's young cousin who is having her first baby. I've carted bags of gently used clothing to the Salvation Army Thrift Store.

In fact, we've gotten rid of so much stuff that I have a stack of empty totes and baskets in the basement.  When you radically declutter, all your organizational strategies and storage compartments start to become useless.  In fact, they turn into clutter!


And then I came across some cute teal polka dotted baking dishes. Collecting dust.

They make my heart swoon.

I've used them once.  Tiny little casserole dishes aren't of much use to a family of 7 (and growing).  They just aren't. The truth is, I bought these on a whim, and I shouldn't have.

There's nothing wrong with owning cute polka dot casserole dishes. But I don't need these, I don't even use them.

And I stand there in the kitchen, wrestling with my own heart.  A heart that wants cute little polka dotted dishes.  A heart that still confuses stylish and cute for what is truly beautiful.


The truth is, decluttering should be hard.  I should be standing in my kitchen with tears streaming down my face, beating my breast and calling out to God over all the times I wandered through stores full of fragile items, justifying myself as I put things I don't need into my cart.   I should be on my knees repenting for caring more about polka dot dishes than starving orphans.  I should be begging God to never let me forget again that we are here for something so much better than spending and consuming and storing up treasure here on this broken earth.  We are here to touch lives. We are here to spend our lives on HIM.

How many more children could we have sponsored through compassion international if we weren't so busy filling our home with trinkets? How many people in our community could we have reached out to if we weren't spending our time trying to find a parking spot at the mall?

But instead I stand in my kitchen wondering whether I want a more authentic walk with the maker of the universe, or some really cute polka dot dishes.

And this realization, this conviction, brings me to my knees.  Lord, break my heart with the things that break yours.

Today, 21 000 children will die because they are in poverty.  Today's task is to commit to take that knowledge with me every single time I stroll through an aisle of pretty shiny things I don't need. I'm choosing to live simply so that others may simply live.


This song has been on my heart all week:

"Give us clean hands,
and give us pure hearts.
Let us not lift our souls to another
Oh God let us be
a generation that seeks
Who seeks Your face, Oh God of Jacob..."
We are doing one small thing every day for a year to create a simpler, quieter, more intentional life. Take a moment to read all About Us, check out The Rules of our year long project and sign up for our RSS feed or "like" us on facebook so that you can follow our journey to radical simplicity!

46 comments:

  1. Your post really blessed me today! We are in the midst of a big change in our life, and as such, we want to minimize our belongings as much as possible. We want to be able to focus on the things that truly matter. We are working towards getting rid of at least half of what we currently own. I love what you said...I'm choosing to live simply, so that others may simply live! May the Lord bless your journey!

    Sara

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  2. I've been so blessed too with your blog and what you've chosen to live without this year. I too want to live with less. We've been using cloth napkins for several years now and I won't ever change back to paper. I line dry most of my clothes too, even in winter in front of our wood stove. I've been making my own laundry soap and fabric softner since January and even liquid hand soap. And I definitely want to do a lot more thinking when shopping to avoid things that I really don't need. I'm reminded of the old song Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus and the phrase in it that goes something like this, may the things of this earth grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

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  3. SO convicting! Love it. It reminds me of the book "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan...if you haven't read it, I highly reccomend it - it is along the same lines as your post today...we should live in such a way as Christians that we don't "fit in" with the world, but we stand out because of how much less stuff we have and how much more we give!

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    1. I love Francis Chan!!! He always seems to say what my heart is afraid to LET me say, ya know?

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  4. Love it! Have you read Jen Hatmaker's "7"? Forgive me if your blog is where I read about it...cannot remember. Love the message of simplicity; it has been the theme for my family in 2012 and I pray that same prayer for my family - to be broken hearted over the injustice in the world. Great post.

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    1. I'm actually reading "7" right now because so many people recommended it to me! It's super!

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  5. Wow. I was not expecting a journey like this when I joined the challenge to have make this "The Year of Less".

    Really really blessed and convicted. Thank you!

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  6. Thanks for posting this! It encouraged me to go through our closet and declutter our clothing. Feels so good, I can't wait to go through the next room.

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  7. This really resonates with me. We've gone through hard times financially over the past two years and my husband is about to get sworn in as a police officer. We've been living with my mom and I can already fill the pull of wanting to be irresponsible and buy things we don't need to fill up our new house because it seems like we've finally gotten what we've prayed for. Instead, I want to do what hurts and get rid of things to live with less to ultimately live with more in my Lord and my family. What a great inspiration to do so!

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  8. This post is amazing! We are currently in a small "change" in our household. We have chosen to start putting priorities in the correct order. God, Family, Work. It will no longer be Work, family, God. Its time we start to show are children the correct way to live and I applaud your efforts to live simply! We are going to join you!

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  9. Thank you for this post. My heart also swooned when I saw your little dishes. I have 2 that I do, fortunately, get to use, for desserts for my husband and I or toaster oven baked mac and cheese for my daughter and I (we are only a family of 3, so little dishes like this work well for us)...BUT!! There are other things I wrestle with...but thats not why I love this post. I love it, because you reminded us of what is most important and did not back down (in a gentle, great way, of course- couldn't think of a more kind way to say it)in saying that we need to repent for our selfish desires. Its so easy to forget that or justify our actions. I have been waiting for a post like this since the challenge started, as I knew you are a faithful steward:o)

    Thanks!! (and P.s. I am sharing this specific post with my husband!)

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  10. Kelly,
    I think you should keep the dishes.
    Here's why. you touch so many people's lives through this and your other blog. People like to see what you have to say.
    But it's not just that.
    You also present things in such a beautiful way. You really have a talent for seeing pretty angles and for arranging things beautifully to send a message. Not everyone can do that.
    I think if you made a pie or just put some cherries in those dishes and wrote a post about helping those around us who need help, you would inspire so many people.
    We need to feed our souls, too. Sometimes we need cute teal polka dot dishes.
    Thank you for this blog and sharing your thoughts.
    Please keep writing.
    Love,
    Ieva

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    1. I totally agree. find a way to make them useful every day.

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    2. Perhaps you can find something else that you don't love as much, like a soap dish, and use these for that purpose instead! Father knows your heart to give to the less fortunate and is blessing you to follow that purpose. You are giving in so many ways.

      I agree that simplifying should "hurt" a little, but if you end up thinking about those sweet little teal polka-dot dishes long after they are gone, then you have switched the clutter from your home to clutter in your mind.

      I also agree with you that we fill our homes with way too many things that make us happy and we can all certainly still be happy with much less of it! Blessings to you in your obedience to The Creator!

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    3. There are different forms of minimalism, and one type seems to believe that keeping objects of beauty is a waste. Even the poorest will hold on to something that is never used if they have the ability.

      If you love the dishes and the biggest argument for tossing them is that you left them long enough to gather dust, consider giving them another chance to be functional display pieces.

      Fold a nice cloth into the bottom and they can be set on your dresser to hold pocket fodder. Use them as trays for fruit and invite the older kids to browse on it. If you have perfume and lotions, keep them in the dishes.

      Only get rid of them if they end up not working, or if you find a better nick knack to do their job, or if you finally fall out of love with them.

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    4. I agree. God wants us to be contrite before Him, but He also wants to Bless us. We are His children. You have already spent the money on them and they make you happy. Keep the dishes.

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  11. What a wonderful post. We are in the middle of renovating our little house and the more I change the house, the more I want to let go! I openly admit, I struggled with your decision too; those are REALLY cute casserole dishes :) yet a wise decision and an eye opening journey. Thanks for sharing!

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  12. I, like all these other women, have really enjoyed and have been inspired by this blog - as if your other one just wasn't enough! And for whatever reason, I want to say that I am not a religious person. I respect religion, even if I only call myself "spiritual" as opposed to "religious". That being said, your words still ring true and should be applied to everyone, religious or not. And in my travels, I feel that I'm somewhat of a rarity that though I'm not religious, I appreciate the sentiment when someone says "Have a Blessed Day". So in that vein, I want you to know that even to me, I understand what you're doing here and what you're striving for. I recognize that need within myself to return to calm and peace and honesty and truthfulness and connectedness with others as opposed to things. I, myself, am in a slow process of this as we're slowly preparing to move into a new house - a home of our own. I don't want to bring the cluttered chaos from the old house into the new. So as I pack, I think and consider and as a result, my "donate" pile grows. And your words give me a sense of peace and a reminder throughout my day to stay true to the real and important things. So, after all this, I just want to say Thank you.

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  13. I love what you said in this post Kelly. "Live simply so that others may simply live." That is an amazing way of looking at it. Our family has been following along and trying these challenges with you, and we have had a few moments of struggle when parting with objects too. This post today really, really opened my eyes. Thank you for sharing your heart so unabashidly and openly with us. This gives me the strength to see the big picture in all of this.

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  14. Those really are sweet little dishes. My first thought was to give them as a gift to someone. Perhaps you could set them aside, and for Christmas fill them with homemade treats and wrap it clear wrap and tie with a bow.

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    1. Love this idea of using what we don't necessary need to share goodies with someone else. Rather than using a disposable dish, use these dishes to bring joy to someone else. Great idea Joan...one I will definitely be remembering as the holiday baking comes around!

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  15. best post so far. thank you.

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  16. Thank you for your words today. I have been following this blog every day (I am a new fan) and really appreciate it.

    My mom-in-law gave me a copy of that Francis Chan book. I will have to make it a priority to read it soon!

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  17. I am still working on decluttering my closet, and there was one skirt that I really debated over. Most of my clothes are hand-me-downs, and it's easier to give away something I didn't buy. But I bought this one. And it's nice. It's also dry-clean only which is not practical at all as a stay at home mom of 2. I realized I was holding on to it for the wrong reasons, and put it in the bag to donate yesterday. As we go through these little battles, Jesus wins!

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  18. Those are very cute dishes, but you'll always have the photo of them here on your blog if you do decide to let someone else have love them. And if you haven't used them and they are collecting dust, they'll be much more useful to someone else.

    I grew up in a home of borderline hoarders, and because of that, I have absolutely no regrets about giving stuff away. I remember what I grew up with and decided that I will not live my adult life that way. So I have a tendency to actually get rid of things that I later need. But the Lord has never forsaken me or neglected to meet my needs, all praise to Him

    Something I say to myself often is, "Do I want to own my stuff, or do I want to be owned by my stuff?" After all, it's just "stuff."

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  19. I got to thinking about you and your little dishes and about what God wants in our lives. There were many people in the bible that lived in abundance with possessions galore (not to mention a few too many wives too. lol)
    If you feel convicted to get rid of them, do. As long as you own the possessions and the possessions don't own you! But if they can bring a smile to your face each and every time you use them, you should keep and use them. Heck, not even for cooking.
    a soap or sponge or scrubby holder;
    fruit or candy dish;
    spoon rest,
    ponytail holders and hair clips;
    a place to plop your keys in when you get home
    crayons, pencils, etc
    gosh, soooo many things to use them for.
    Since you are absolutely going to live with less, really love what you have!

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  20. This post touched me more than any that I have read. It was beautiful and the the verse in the open Bible is wonderful. We've recently decluttered because we had to - we were moving from a 2500 sq ft house to an apartment by choice. I need to declutter even more and can completely relate to standing over an item for so much longer than I need to trying to decide if I should give or keep. Thanks for your thoughts and sharing your life with us.

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  21. I love your Bible verse--which is it? I can't tell from the picture. Thanks for sharing! I enjoy following your journey toward a more simple lifestyle!

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    1. It's Matthew 6:21.

      http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+6:21&version=KJV

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  22. WOW! What a wake up call. Thanks.

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    1. And I mentioned this post on my blog. =)

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  23. I am following your blog here while also reading the book 7: An Experomental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker, they really compliment each other. Also I have had that song you quoted "break my heart for what breaks yours" and I am beginning to feel a stirring in my heart, just waiting to realize what it is exactly. I have a friend who just left to live in Rwanda for 2 years with orphans...she recommended the book. Please Lord help us who are abundantly blessed to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Amen.

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    1. please ignore my mistakes there, I have a new baby and less brain to use...I meant Experimental...and I have had that song stuck in my head for several days, and just went back and saw that you are also reading 7. carry on.

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  24. On e again so glad you are posting all of this honesty and journey that you are on! I even got rid of some stuff! You are so right life is more than our possessions. Please have a look at William McDonald 's book "true discipleship" , it's sooooooo, solemn and challenging!

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  25. Thank you - your posts are always relevant. This one is a blessing! Thank you for being an inspiration.

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  26. I love your writing style and humor as your are working through the concept of "stuff." I was curious to see if you would be interested posting something like this on the www.AverageAdvocate.com - something about your heart as you are changed to be an advocate for the poor or orphan, etc... (like it is demonstrated in this article. It seems de-cluttering is an action that helps mold you into someone who cares. Thanks for considering!
    -elisa

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  27. This post made me cry. I struggle against society's need for consuming useless things. I too have the pretty dishes I like, but when I think that I have wasted so much money, time, energy wanting/moving/storing these *things* to the detriment of what really matters, well, I weep. "Lord, break my heart with the things that break yours." That's why I weep, because I know that God wants me to look further, beyond myself, and it's so hard to start after so long.

    Thank you so much for understanding. I would make one request: write a post about how to tell others what you're doing. I find it hard to say I want less, especially as I come from a family of hoarders and a beautiful mother who really *really* likes shopping and tries to talk me into buying something almost every day. Telling them we don't want birthday presents any more caused a mini family fued, and as for when I requested no plastic toys before my children were born..... wow!

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  28. Words cannot even express how thankful I am for your blog, especially this post right here. I keep it open in my tabs at all time and refer to it often. I am a SAHM to 2 little girls in a small house as well, and as I have been slowly moving through the house, I can feel myself breathing better and feeling more free. My family members, who now check your blog regularly as well, have also benefitted from going through and cleaning out. I really look forward to your new posts each day and am looking forward to what else you have in store! Thank you so very very much!

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  29. THANK you for this message. I've just found your blog and your words convict my heart for the change that I have been trying to begin in my own life and in the lives of my family. I have no excuses.....it begins today.

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  30. Thank you for the convicting reminder about "stuff" becoming a barrier.

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  31. IF we actually do this year of less...I will surely find myself in this exact position...over, and over, and over again.

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  32. Great post. During our two adoption processes I found it much easier to not buy things and to sell things knowing it was getting us closer to our kiddos. I LOVE what can be done with the money that's not wasted!

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  33. I've just recently discovered your blog and am catching up. This post totally speaks to my heart. Thank you so much for sharing your journey.

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