About the Author

Michelle Reyes, Ph.D., is an Indian American pastor’s wife, writer, and activist. She is also the Vice President of the Asian American Christian Collaborative and writes regularly on faith, culture, and justice. Michelle lives in Austin, TX with her husband and two kids. Follow her on IG @michelleamireyes.

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  1. Michelle,

    Paul states in Philippians 3: 13-14 But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. We are all running a race. The prize isn’t earthly but heavenly. In order to win that prize we need to keep our focus ahead & on Jesus. We must learn to get rid of that which distracts us from the race or season we are in. Life down here in the messy middle between two Edens is hard. We have mountain tops, & valleys. Each season brings change which is never easy to accept. We must remember that God is constantly working in & through us during our journey. Each trial or disappointment will bring some good. It can be hard to rid ourselves of items that remind us of good times we had. But we must make room for better/different things God has in store for us. Trust God & find joy in your life by ridding yourself of hindrances.

    Blessings 🙂

  2. Michelle,

    Paul states in Philippians 3: 13-14 But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. We are all running a race. The prize isn’t earthly but heavenly. In order to win that prize we need to keep our focus ahead & on Jesus. We must learn to get rid of that which distracts us from the race or season we are in. Life down here in the messy middle between two Edens is hard. We have mountain tops, & valleys. Each season brings change which is never easy to accept. We must remember that God is constantly working in & through us during our journey. Each trial or disappointment will bring some good. It can be hard to rid ourselves of items that remind us of good times we had. But we must make room for better/different things God has in store for us. Trust God & find joy in your life by ridding yourself of hindrances.

  3. Oh, Michelle–every once in a while I picture this conversation between my twenty-something self and the present me, and she always starts off by asking me what I was thinking when I ship-wrecked our resume by homeschooling for twenty years. By the time she starts in on our closet, I’ve usually silenced her, but one of these days, I’ve really got to follow your example and excavate that historical monument.
    I love this truth: “God wants us to look to Him in every stage of life, to see the good that He’s doing, and to enjoy it.” I think the reason I love it so much is that it has taken me so long to get here.

    • You’re so right about the struggle, Michele. I love your word “ship-wrecked”. That’s exactly how I feel too. Instead of enjoying my current season and seeing why God has me where he does, I often see it as a step back from where I used to be. I long for the past with a nostalgia like the Israelites for Egypt. Walking this road with you, sister, and looking to Christ together <3

  4. Thank you Michelle!
    I am also in a new season and it is exciting but sad, freeing but lonely. My husband’s job is relocating us to another state where we have no family or friends. My two sons will find a new school and new friends. Although I can reminisce and be sad about leaving family and what’s familiar, God is constantly reminding me with both scriptures from Isaiah and Philippians to look to Him! Her is with me and has something great in store. I’m letting go of all that I’ve been up to this point. I’m leaving behind other people opinions and notions of what I should be doing right now and i’m pressing forward to the prize, that I get to share with Jesus! Thank you for sharing your moment of finding the new and letting go of the old.
    Carla,

    • Hey Carla! Thank you for sharing a piece of your story! Moving is hard. 5 years ago, I left the Midwest for the first time in my life to move down south to Texas, and it was hard. Everything felt different and foreign – the food, the people, the climate, the geography, the culture, the pace of life. The crazy thing is that, as I write this, I’m now back in the North for a visit, and the North is starting to feel less familiar. I’m learning that God has made us to be resilient and that we can get used to anything as long as we cling to him. The transition is hard, but you are not alone, and who knows how God may surprise and delight you along this new path. Praying for you!

  5. Good morning Michelle! You are a brave soul and I commend you on this mission! I do this regularly for my self but only do the few make it out, the dowdy stretched over worn ones… then every once in a while I’m overwhelmed with my husbands racks of clothes ( he wants nothing donated by my hands anyway:) I rid half of mine and still I cannot let go of the clothes of 15 pounds ago.. years old.. some never worn.. even a beautiful embroidered sundress I carried my first son to a summer bbq with .. he’s 40 next week! (It’s so lovely I’m hoping a granddaughter will want it someday! Lord help me and yes y’all may gasp at that one:) thank you for reminding me again my journey is beautiful and continues forward no matter what age we are to stay true and fearless in His Love and in my purging this spring.. I have many more closets to clean \0/… happy Tuesday!

    • Ah, I’m with you, Sadie! That sundress sounds lovely! It’s hard to part from clothes, especially when they have special memories connected to them. I think there is also beauty in finding people to pass clothes on to as a sort of legacy and story of your family. I hope you can gift that dress to a granddaughter! What a lovely idea!

  6. I feel silent…last Friday a man shot and killed 54 people and injured 40 whilst they worshipped in their mosque. Now the person responsible was staying in our city in NZ and targeted Dunedin but for some reason chose to carry out the senseless attach 5 hours away in Christchurch. When we see these things happen in the news we naturally are shocked and pray for the victims, their families. But here in New Zealand this is unprecedented, I’m just at s loss for words to wrap my head around it? Innocent people whilst they prayed to the same God as our God but very very different. I know there are huge differences here obviously but I just do confused it’s so senseless…Tell me how should I connect with my God after such a tragedy has taken place so close in our country? It’s sounds silly and I’m still reeling from the news….

    • Jas, I’m so sorry for the tragedy that has struck close to you. May God reveal His nearness to you in a comforting way. A couple years ago, I found out that a man who was holding a teenager hostage in his backyard shed and shot and killed an officer trying to escape going to jail was the father of my children’s classmate! My kids had been inside this man’s house at one point! I was badly shaken. After everyone went to bed, I stayed up and poured out my heart to God until there was nothing left. Then peace entered. May you get alone with God, pour out your fears and griefs, and wait on Him to fill you instead with His peace. Hugs to you my hurting sister.

    • Reeling from the same thing …how did this happen in my home town …but the love and support from the whole nation to the families of the dead and injured is amazing
      The whole city is Christ’s Church

      • Thank you Bev. What happened in your home town? I don’t have a tv at the moment so I have been very selective with watching the news so as not to upset the children…

        • Im sorry Bev I commented thinking you were another Bev! You are right the nations response has been inspiring. We are holding a vigil in Dunedin tomorrow night for the victims and their families and to stand in solidarity with the Muslim community. God is love and I pray they feel the that love emanating from/through the nation’s actions. Thank you for your comments, prayers are with you x

    • Jas, my heart breaks with you! What happened in New Zealand was a senseless tragedy. We can cling to the truth that every man, woman and child is made in the Imago Dei, and that God weeps over the murder and destruction of his children, no matter their ethnicity, gender or religion. It is good in these times to lament, to mourn, to cry, to linger in this pain and not just move in. That is what we see in the Psalms. I would even encourage you to pray through the Psalms of Lament as a way to give expression to your prayers. Psalm 5 is a good place to start. Lord, may you bring your justice and your peace upon this earth; may you mourn with those who mourn; and may you comfort us in the way that only you can.

  7. Hi Michelle,

    Thank you for this wonderdul message! I am in a difficult moment of my life and there you are encouraging us to project ourself. May the Lord bless you always.

    Elvira

  8. Michelle, you are speaking my language! I just mentioned to my husband the other day that I wanted to go through my closet again. One thing I’m planning to try is to put all the non-joy-sparkers aside for a bit to see if I actually miss them. That way it might be easier to part with them. The hard ones for me are the gifts I don’t wear but are from deceased loved ones. I’m too practical to want to keep them just for memory sake, but it seems so harsh to get rid of them. Ideas??

    • Photograph them. Take a photo, save the photo (with “shirt Aunt Beatrice thought I would like” or something like that as the title), send the item along to be used well by someone else. (unless you’re a quilter and these are “their” clothes and you like having the physical representation samples, in which case: memory quilt time?)

    • Pearl, I resonate with what you are saying about parting with items from deceased loved ones. I JUST THIS WEEKEND KonMari’d the heck outta my closet and drawers (Michelle, I literally laughed aloud when I read the title then first few sentences of your devotional today…God has the most amazing timing…and with me the BEST sense of humor!). If you’re not familiar with Marie Kondo, her philosophy is not just about cleaning and tidying but about keeping the things that spark joy in your life and that you can envision taking with you into your future. What I love most about her method is that you hold each piece item by item…if it sparks joy, you keep it. If it doesn’t and you’re sure you want to give it away, etc. you reverently thank it for the use it had or memories it brought to your life. Then you bag it and donate it. (Or gently throw it away…never toss it away.) What I love about this is that it centers the cleaning around gratitude. To me it also gave me an overview of how I can get bogged down in “stuff” that often I haven’t even looked at in years. For the items given me from loved ones gone, I sat with that expectation for a bit. Some of them, I was ready to let go and found ways to honor those loved ones in different ways (i.e. having a framed photo in a prominent place, for example) – and I found myself shedding a few appreciative tears then kissed the items, thanked them and now I look forward to someone else enjoying them. Someone who may not have the means otherwise. For those I kept, I have them displayed in a prominent place in my closet so I can smile when I look at them. But only you can say what brings you joy and is irreplaceable and what may be holding you back from your future. The beauty is, we all get to decide…and know that Jesus is looking to lead us – with or without that shirt – into our next season…our future with Him. Saying prayers you will have clear discernment as you make these beautiful decisions!! Sending love…

      • Cynthia, I so appreciated reading your comment. Maybe I’ll have to dust off my copy of Marie Kondo’s book and have another go at it. (I got stuck somewhere in the sock drawer..) What I love most is how you ended with the reminder that Jesus leads us into the future with or without the stuff. We already have what’s most important so whether I shed baggage or accidentally get rid of a cherished momento, in the end it doesn’t affect anything of true value. That’s freeing.

    • What a great idea, Pearl! I think there is wisdom in slow movements and processes. It gives us pause to reflect, consider and reconsider what is important and what is not. Gifts from deceased loved ones are not easy to give away. What I’ve done with items like that is give them as personal gifts to people in need. Our church serves an urban, low-income community, and I’ve given a lot of my “special” clothes to ladies in our church. You can also find local refugee organizations and women’s shelters to gift clothes to women who really are in need and would be blessed by these things.

  9. I’m with you, ma’am. I’m with you. I’ve been staring at my closet…needing to clean things out, but I just can’t bring myself to. The top I wore when we were engaged. The dress I wore to a wedding when I was pregnant with our daughter. My son’s favorite Mommy tee. All my Disney tees (ok, unless they REALLY don’t fit, they’re staying – I live in them). Like you, I was fit, and now I”m not. I’ve struggled with PPD, and anxiety in the last few years. By God’s grace, and the love and support of my husband and mother, and others around me, I’ve come so far, but still….that closet (and jeans drawer) lingers in front of me….saying “What if”….”What if”…. You’ve motivated me by the Spirit to go upstairs and do some cleaning out….change my perspective. Our pastor preached on this on Sunday, and now I read this. God’s telling me it’s time….time to dive into what He has planned, and not my own wishes.

    Thank you! Many blessings to you and your family!
    Sarah 🙂

    • Sarah, I’m praising God for how the Spirit is moving and speaking in your life. That is so tough, and I’m sorry to hear of how you are struggling right now. So many memories and life milestones now in the past, and our clothes from that era make us feel like going back is possible. That’s part of my struggle right now too. Perhaps fully getting rid of these clothes may not be the best idea. Maybe you could turn them into something, like a quilt or blanket, or even just put them in a special memory chest to pull out on occasion and reflect and journal about. What works for one person may not be the best idea for someone else. There is goodness and grace in that too. Praying for you today, sister.

      • Thank you for your thoughts and prayers! I appreciate it, Michelle! I was able to clear out quite a few of them, and will work on the drawers over the next week. Thank you again!

  10. Clothes really do bring back so many memories and our past life. Last time I was cleaning my closet and walking down memory lane, my daughter walked in. So I started telling her some of the stories of an outfit. I loved her advice. Mom, take a picture of that outfit before you give it away, that way you will have a picture memory. Wise. We can’t live in the past, but it is nice to visit good memories.

  11. I love this perspective of our stuff. I need to do the same. To let go of the old. To do away with the old self. It’s hindering the moving forward. And from me finding anything in my closet! Time to purge. Time to let go of the old self and keep Christ as my goal. I can’t take any of it with me to eternity anyway! And an emptier closet will certainly spark joy again (in my husband too :))! Love your writing Michelle! Thanks for sharing!

  12. God speaks to me in a small voice and sometimes in a booming one. He spoke to me through all if your tender words. Thank you all and thank you God. Blessed journeys

  13. I too am in a stage in my life where I know I must let go of things of my past. However, the “thing” of my past is not necessarily a thing, it’s a person. This person is someone who is hindering my walk with Christ. I’ve tried for over 25 years in hoping things will change. However, they’re not. And it’s been hurting me emotionally, mentally, and physically just to think I have to clean this person out of my life. But I know as I know that I place my trust in Jesus. Whatever happens, He is with me and I am Loved Dearly by Him. So I will continue forward and trust His will. For He is good and has my life already planned out for me. And so knowing that alone gives me strength. If I can clean out my closet and get rid of things that know no longer should be there and have peace with it, I surely believe that I will be guided to make other decisions in life that has no purpose and hinders my walk with my Lord. Praise be to God!

    • Hey Estela! Thanks for sharing! I’m very sorry to hear this. Have you talked to someone about this situation? Your pastor? People in your church? A counselor? I would highly recommend finding trusted people to talk to, and to help you find a safe space for healing and protection. If you want to talk with me more about this, I’m very happy to. You could email me: Michelle.Ami.Reyes@gmail.com. You are not alone.

  14. I too have a ghastly time of it, of throwing away since I always attatch memories to everything it seems. But one thing that may help is this – just like God told the Israelites to set up an altar for every milestone they went through, perhaps keep one thing that represents a milestone for you. Ive learned that cluttering things will only cost me storage, m space and as a college student whose family live in India, miles away where I cannot cart things back and forth as most of the others in my college do, I have learned to select items that I rely on and need. Only keeping the nescessary and keeping an inventory of everything I need so that if it does not fit in with my needs I do not buy it or consider it. However, things one already has from the past is even harder I agree. But I have learned to see that the important things in my life, family friends and few certain items such as books and are all I need, though many times I look to hold on to things I already have for the comfort, especially in a strange place or one that is not home.

  15. Michelle,
    This was deeply touching, thank-you. In order for me to carry on the way I trust that God is leading me……..11 Samuel 22:37 You have made wide steps for my feet to keep from slipping, I’m trying to let go,
    I hope that you all have a blessed day,
    Penny

  16. God also make us spring clean our lives as well as our clothes. Women remember this we are beautiful to God no matter what size we are now. Even if we were a different size years ago. That does not matter to God. He will never stop loving us no matter what. We are his matter piece. WE ARE ALL DAUGHTER’S OF THE KING. Did you women know that when you strart to cry because your old don’t fit you anymore. You think you are two fat don’t look nice. Then get depressed about it God see thoes tears yes them all and carries them all in bottle then take each one and prays for You and your tears. Yes you because You are special to him. He keep thoes tears. Because He Loves you all. Love Dawn xxx