My 30 Day Clear the Clutter Challenge ended a little over a week ago, but I’ve been giving myself some time to ponder what I really learned through the experience. Here are just a few things:
1) Space is good.
I cleared out several drawers and cabinets and closets — and some are close to empty! At first, I really didn’t like it. It felt like I needed to put more stuff back in them. It felt so EMPTY.
Remember, I’m used to a lot of clutter. I actually enjoy some clutter (weird, I know). It makes me feel — oh, I don’t know — creative, maybe?!!
Anyway, I have a few of these empty spaces and less-than-stuffed places, and I’m finally starting to get used to it. I actually feel a sense of relief. I’m finding it much easier to stay focused and on-task with less stuff to manage!
2) Memories are not lost just because the mementos are gone.
This is a tough one for me. I tend to associate memories with certain objects, and then, I don’t want to get rid of those objects, because they remind me of that particular time or place. I’m very sentimental, I guess!
As I was sorting through and getting rid of things, this is where the tears came. I can still feel them well up a little as I think about it! Though not beautiful or functional, there were several (and I mean SEVERAL) items I got rid of that begged me to keep them. Okay. Maybe it was just me begging myself to keep them!
For instance, I had this set of Coca Cola bottles. Two from my travels to North Africa, one from my travel to Haiti, and two from my travels to Europe. They’ve been setting on top of the refrigerator gathering dust for years. They didn’t really fit my decor (not that I have a decorating bone in my body — I have talented sisters to help me with that), but I kept them because I associated them with my trips.
I got rid of them. And it was hard.
I’m slowly realizing I don’t need the items to remember my trip. I still have the memories. Just because I purged the items, doesn’t mean the memories vanished!
3) On the other hand, it’s okay to keep some memorabilia.
I think there is a balance. It’s good to get rid of some things, but there are other items I’m just not ready to part with. For instance, the Christmas before my dad died, he gave me this silly little key finder (he gave one to all of my sisters and to my mom – we’re known for losing our keys). Though I don’t use it and it’s nothing beautiful or spectacular, I’m just not ready to let it go yet. I have very few things left from my dad, so I just can’t part with it. (Maybe in a few years…)
Also, there have to be some people who save things, right?!! We wouldn’t have museums, vintage clothing, etc. unless there were some savers among us!!
4) Clearing the clutter is not just about material things.
I’ve been focusing on clearing out the material items, but clutter can be found in other areas. You can find your life cluttered by too much to do and your inability to say no. Maybe you’re spending too much time watching TV or on the internet. That’s a form of clutter, too! Our finances can be cluttered with debt and overspending. Our bodies can be cluttered because we don’t exercise and take care of them!
Actually, the more I’ve worked through the clearing out process, the more I see that my clutter really began in my heart. Clutter is really an internal condition that shows up with external symptoms!
5) Clutter can cause us to lose focus on what really matters.
I made mention to this above, but too much stuff to manage, clean, and fix may cause us to lose precious time with family and friends. It can also serve as an idol — a substitute for God in our lives. Gaining more stuff can give us a sense of security — when really, the only secure thing in life is a relationship with our heavenly Father. All of this stuff is temporary.
The verse I have hanging in my kitchen serves to remind me of this:
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:21
I learned so much through this challenge, but at the same time, I still don’t have it all figured out! I can already tell that clearing out the clutter and keeping it out is definitely not a one time event! But I’m thankful to have taken the steps….and challenged myself to really examine the role and purpose of stuff in my life.