40 Days Lighter – Day 17: Is It in the Right Pile?

Hangers

In my efforts to declutter my closet and dresser, I have repeatedly come across items that I was, at first, either sure I wanted to keep, or I was seriously considering throwing out. This internal wrestling with myself became cumbersome, so I followed the instructions of decluttering expert Marie Kondo, and simply pulled everything out into the open, covering my bed in clothes and accessories.

Now, with all of my belongings in one heap, I was able to form 2 more accurate piles: what I loved and would keep, what I no longer needed/wanted and would remove. That second pile was then split into two more piles – items in excellent condition to be donated, and a “straight to the trash” pile. I would never have guessed the amount of will power it actually takes to  properly prioritize one’s clothing.

I had jeans that I haven’t worn in years – whether it was because I was too big, or they were too small, no need to point the finger – but I still struggled to put them in the donate or trash pile! I wish that I could say that they were only a size or two away, but I found a pair of jeans that were upwards of 3 sizes from my being wearable, so even with my recent weight loss adventure, it would be quite a while before I could even squeeze a leg in them!

I asked myself why it was so difficult to part with items that I was not using, and simply did not need. I came up with a variety of answers – one pair was the most comfortable jeans I had ever owned; another was a design and color that just have not seen anywhere recently. I had tops that – if I’m being painfully transparent – were a style that I liked…on other people… but I probably wore once… or would never actually get around to wearing. Because sometimes, we wish we could embrace someone else’s sense of style…right?

As I thought about my reasons for hesitation with my clothes, I realized that these were often the same excuses that sometimes keep us from making transformative decisions in life. This particular role, or way of living is so comfortable. That’s just my style, just the way I am. Or the opposite – I want to try doing it like “So and so”, because they did it that way and they were successful – not realizing that another person’s style or life will never be the “right fit” for us. 

Some of us are afraid to make the difficult decision to let relationships, jobs, downright messy and unhealthy situations go – because we’re afraid we will never find another one like it. Even though that person isn’t helping us grow, even though that job is clearly dead end, even if our very future is in jeopardy, we simply can’t let it go because it’s familiar.

Tonight, I am challenging myself, as I encourage you, to make sure that we are properly – and prayerfully – prioritizing our life, so that we can be positioned to fulfill our purpose!

 

 

40 Days Lighter: My Journey through 40 Days of Decluttering

declutter-photos

I was recently inspired by a Facebook post from a friend sharing a link to participate in 40 Bags in 40 Days, a challenge that asks participants to declutter their homes, work spaces, email inboxes, among a host of other “non-stuff” ways to declutter and incorporate healthy, beneficial habits. The challenge is aligned with the period of Lent, where many people give something up for the period of 40 days.

I found this particular idea to be a timely one, as I have recently been in a season of “letting go” – of unhealthy habits and routines, and of things that no longer have a place in my closet, home or life.

What I quickly discovered is that once you get a taste of the freedom that release brings, a new, simpler yet satisfying way of living begins to emerge. I also discovered that giving into the process of letting go of the “way I’ve always done things” has made so much room for new habits, opportunities, and simple joys that I didn’t imagine achievable at this stage in my life.

Over the next 40 days, I would like to share with you, my experience as I take daily, intentional steps to release the “extra weight” in my life. (I’ll talk about dropping the literal weight in an upcoming post!)

During this time I’ll share my journey to release the emotional baggage that this newly embraced way of living has revealed, that still hides in the corners of my heart. I’ll talk about shedding the doubts and fears that have held me back from bringing my dreams to life. I will also be making observations on my journey to become more consistent in the spiritual disciplines of worship, prayer, fasting, reading my Bible and meditation.

And of course, I will be setting aside time each day to write, and provide even a small update on my progress through this challenge.

I hope that you will join me in my journey, and that you might take a journey of your own to live a lighter, freer life.

I can’t wait to be 40 Days Lighter!

P.s. Here is a list of some of the tools/books I’ll be using/reading as I go through this process:

Garbage Bags!

A Journal

ESV Journaling Bible

Fitbit App

You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit by James K. A. Smith

the life-changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing by Marie Kondo

Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun

 

Exposing Shame

Exposing Shame

Shame became my companion…

So secretly and subtily that I didn’t even see him coming. Like that acquaintance that kind of tags along quietly with a group of friends, whose presence goes almost unnoticed until everyone else has left the party.

And in this case, it was in the moment that I had lost hold of my joy, misplaced my peace, had a falling out with both logic and reason, couldn’t find self esteem, value or self worth, and beauty simply refused to be my friend, that I saw him. Sitting there, as smug as can be, waiting to “console” me.

I knew that I should have dismissed him right then and there, because once he wraps his arms around you, it can be so hard to make him let go. But I ignored the knowing, and as he leaned close, I could smell his stale, stagnant breath, laden with the missteps and mistakes of so many years of my life. He parted his lips and began to speak, spewing out accusatory and condemning thoughts and ideas, that he then worked tirelessly to make me believe were my own.

The thing about shame is that he attempts to secure a permanent place with you by introducing you to his best friend – Fear of Exposure. He keeps you feeling vulnerable and naked by threatening to reveal all of your hidden faults and failures to anyone who will listen. He intimidates you into allowing him to remain your companion by convincing you that if the rest of the world knew the truth about you, he is the only one who would still want you.

But today I am exposing Shame. I am calling him out as the fraud he attempts to make me believe that I am.

Shame’s agenda is to alienate and assassinate your most productive, meaningful and wholesome relationships in the present by keeping you handcuffed, as long as possible, to your past, no matter how long ago it was. He steals opportunities before they even materialize. He locks doors before you even arrive. He works overtime to make sure that you Never. Even. Try.

You can recognize his voice because he always lies to you, tells you the opposite of the Word of God:

“Hey, you know all of that nonsense about being a new creature, that song you love to sing about all things being made new?? Yup, not true – You’re still that same person that messed up all those years ago.”

“And you know how you love to throw around this idea that God has forgiven and forgotten – Yeah, He still sees you the same way, and He’s just waiting for you to fail…again.”

“Don’t let me get started on this ridiculous notion of ‘no condemnation’ – You’re still guilty and still unworthy.”

Lies. Lies that directly oppose God’s Word and His promises to us.

In John 8:34-36, Jesus responds to the questioning of the Jews about what He meant by stating that the truth would make them free with the following:

“I assure you and most solemnly say to you, everyone who practices sin habitually is a slave of sin. Now the slave does not remain in a household forever; the son [of the master] does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, then you are unquestionably free” (John 8:34-36 AMP).

Shame attempts to convince us that the freedom found in belief in the Son of God and repentance from sin, is merely a token an act designed to assuage our emotions, and quiet our conscience. But the freedom that Jesus gives, not only releases us from our past, and delivers us into righteous living in the present, but it also removes the hand, silences the voice, and reverses the impact of shame in our lives, from this very moment and into the future.

They say that in an argument, the person who is the most wrong is the one who yells the loudest. Shame screams our past and our faults and our failures at us because he has nothing new to say or do to us. If we successfully separate our hope for the future from the pain of our past, shame ultimately loses all power. And because he has no control over the future, he strives to keep us paralyzed in the only place that we have true power to make change – the present

So today, I’m exposing Shame. I’m calling him out, and I’m casting him out. Because my future is too bright, too important, too full of potential, to allow a mere shadow of the past to keep me from embracing the place that God has for me.

And yours is too!