When I was 15, my room looked like a shrine to ballet. I had been dancing for 12 years at the time, I was considering going pro, and had even stood in front of the Bolshoi Ballet theater in Moscow that spring.
My room had ballet posters, signed toe shoes from famous dancers thumb-tacked to the walls, and falling-down stacks of Dance! magazine. I even had a six-foot portable ballet barre, handmade just for me. (Bet you’re surprised. Because, you know, I have all kinds of time to pirouette around the house with my littles right now.)
But as you might guess—I have absolutely no idea where any of that stuff is now. 19 years later, and I’ve moved on. God led me in absolutely the right direction (which, for me, was away from ballet), and I don’t regret it for one day. You couldn’t guess I was headed towards professional ballet if you looked around my house. I hope there’s some other ballerina-in-training enjoying that wooden ballet barre right now.
Now, I’m not saying those years don’t mean anything to me. I have nothing but fond memories of rehearsals, annual Nutcracker productions, tutus, and even the bleeding toes. I’m so glad I spent much of my childhood in ballet class.
But can you imagine what my house would be like if I kept all my ballet stuff that I haven’t used in almost two decades? We wouldn’t have any room to make new memories.
I bet you could say something similar. Soccer trophies, prom dresses, homecoming mums, old history papers… We’ve all collected stuff like this. And except for a few precious items, most of it doesn’t reflect who we are now. It’d be silly and unreasonable to keep all of it.
Stuff doesn’t usually hold our memories… Stuff is often just stuff. And it can be hard to let go of stuff. We believe it holds a lot of power, and it can be scary to let it go.
• We think if we get rid of something, we’re saying the memory behind it doesn’t matter.
• We believe that we’d upset the person who once gave it to us, even though we never use it.
• We think we may one day need it, even though we haven’t for five years and it takes up space.
Holding on to too much stuff can hold us back. It can keep us from making plans for the future, and it can overwhelm us in the present. It can make our days more congested than they need to be.
In short… stuff can rob us of peace.
And I’ve found that when my physical world feels crazy and cluttered, my internal world does, too. I’m less motivated to rise out of bed with a good attitude. I’m more reticent to to face the day with gladness, to be patient with my family, to be thankful for the my blessings.
It even affects my heath—I’m not as likely to exercise, to eat well, or to go to bed and sleep soundly. When I don’t have the room to work out, or I can’t find my ingredients in the pantry… It adds mental clutter to my day, and I give up before I start. And when I go to bed among stuff without a permanent spot, I truly don’t sleep as well.
Having a reasonably decluttered home is so much more than just an act of gathering things for your local thrift store. It’s a deliberate choice to add some peace and order to your life. You’re trading in things for blank space; the inability to find things for a purposeful spot for the things that matter most.
Getting rid of things is a gift. I don’t regret not having my ballet paraphernalia one bit… I still cherish the memories of those days, and I don’t have to deal with dusting stuff I once loved. I can thank God for those days, and still have the freedom to hope for the future in front of me.
If you feel the need to declutter, we’re starting our annual spring cleaning series this next Monday, March 5. It’s called Project: Simplify, and for four weeks, we’ll declutter four hotspots in our homes. You can read more about it here. All are welcome!
Consider your decluttering an act of worship. You’re freeing your family to wait expectantly for what God has in store for the future, you’re thanking Him for the possessions you truly love, and you’re unhinging your spirit from things on earth that will one day be dust. Our stuff is a gift… And yet, it’s just stuff.
Have you found that decluttering your physical space also frees you mentally and spiritually?
From Tsh of Simple Mom, who’s really going to roll up her sleeves this month…