“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
~William Morris, The Wood Beyond the World
Like many of you, I collected random things during my childhood years. This stage seems to be a typical part of human development, a healthy sign of our active imaginations and natural need to classify objects. My own children are currently in this phase and the organizer in me wants to throw all of their [perceived] useless junk out the window.
But I resist.
Whether Shopkins or trucks, glittery crafts or tsum tsums, key chains or LEGOS, I just want to BURN ALL THE THINGS.
But I won’t.
Mostly because of town ordinances and resale value of said items, but also because I remember how important collectables were to me when I was their age. Like a laser-focused doomsday prepper, I stockpiled baby dolls, notes from friends, stuffed animals, and knick-knacks. (Mother, how did you deal with this x5? Please advise.)
Eventually, I outgrew this phase and slowly became a pitcher. If I no longer used an item or felt sentimental about it, I gave it away or threw it in the trash. Out went the trinkets, trophies, and knick-knacks. This exercise made me feel free-er, lighter.
As a teenager, I went on a cleaning spree, tossing stuff like the Digging-est Dog throwing dirt behind him. In my purging frenzy, I threw away my beloved teddy bear, Night-Night. Rumor has it when I was just a wee tot, I waddled out to our clothesline to hold Night-Night’s paw while he hung out to dry. We were inseparable; I couldn’t sleep without his soft pink and grey body snuggled next to mine. So when my parents noticed Night-Night in the trash, they rescued him, washed him, and quietly tucked him away in their cedar chest. I’m glad for their nosy wisdom. That bear was a tangible source of comfort for me, a delightful character in my history that I now get to share with my own kids.
Autumn officially begins tomorrow, September 22nd. New seasons often feel like fresh starts to me. They are specific points on the calendar that inspire me to reflect on what I need to let go of and what I need to hold.
Here are two things I’ve carried that I’m learning to release:
- False guilt: This kind of guilt has no business walking around in my mind or toying with my emotions. It taunts me with the lie that I will never be enough, pushes me to say “yes” to possibilities not meant for me, and silently begs others to appreciate me. False guilt drains me emotionally and physically while filling me with resentment. This is not the healthy kind of guilt that leads to confession of sin and forgiveness. This kind of guilt turns me into a person I no longer recognize because I’ve agreed to do and be certain things just to satisfy certain people. I become someone who no longer knows her needs or wants or skills because she is so entrenched in the expectations of others. False guilt has plagued me for decades and I am officially OVER IT.
- Fear: This is not the healthy kind of fear that sees danger and takes the necessary precautions or the kind that wisely prepares for certain worst-case scenarios. This is the paralyzing kind of fear that can keep me from new endeavors (in which I might fail) and new friendships (in which I might be rejected). Instead of taking healthy risks that often lead to growth or change (and yes, even public criticism), I let fear bully me into clinging tightly to what I can control because that feels safer. As a lifelong skeptic, full of questions, I will always have a relationship with fear but I don’t want it to govern my life.
False guilt and [unhealthy] fear are worthless, heavy keepsakes that I’ve hauled around for years. Whenever I moved, I boxed them up, loaded them in to the truck, and brought them along to the next adventure. What a waste of time and energy.
Here’s what’s helping me to release this useless cargo in this new season:
- Claiming the Truth. I continue to read and study Scripture. Also, good books and music. (See my list at the end of this post.) When I’m immersed in what is true, I’m better able to recognize and handle the lies that lure me into false guilt and fear.
- Connecting with my people. I have a tiny circle of people who know me well, who balance their truth-telling with deep love, who welcome life’s hard questions, and who choose to listen rather than offer easy answers.
Dear readers, what are you carrying that you need to release?
What have you collected on your journey that is neither useful nor beautiful?
Would love to hear your thoughts!
Here are a few resources that have encouraged me in this season of release:
- The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Cron & Suzanne Stabile
- Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
- Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist
- The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
Music (artists & song titles):
- Andre Day: Rise Up
- Listener: Wooden Heart
- Zach Williams: Chainbreaker
- Nicole Nordeman: The Unmaking
- Switchfoot: I Won’t Let You Go, Live It Well
- NEEDTOBREATHE: Rise Again, Lay ‘Em Down
- The Art of Simple, hosted by Tsh Oxenrider
- Typology, hosted by Ian Cron
- The Minimalists, hosted by Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus
All photos in this post are courtesy of https://visualhunt.com, except the Digging-est Dog which is courtesy of https://www.bikemonkey.net/wente.