We have wandered through the valley. 2014 has taken us through places we never want to revisit. For so many people close to me this has been a year of loss, deep wounds, betrayal, and grief. I’ve been thinking about it recently as this year, mercifully, draws to a close. We are within reach of a new year and I am personally looking forward to this midnight on December 31st more than any other I can remember. That includes the transition into Y2K when the apocalypse threatened to wipe out humanity. *Spoiler alert* it didn’t.
I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about who I want to be and what I want to do. I’ve been mulling over what are some of the things most precious to me and the moments that bring happiness and the deepest sense of contentment. I’ve also been thinking about the kind of things that cause stress and anxiety, and the types of situations that wound me and threaten the peace of my home. After much consideration, the Invisible Man and I have come to the conclusion that 2015 will be a year of less.
First up, less STUFF.
The Invisible Man and I both lost our grandmothers this year. We rejoice that they are home. We’ve seen both sets of our parents left to handle what was left behind. Our grandmothers are whole, complete, and reunited with those they never stopped loving deeply. We celebrate that. At the same time, there is now stuff left behind to deal with. Inevitably stuff becomes a burden. A drawer full of knickknacks loses the sentimental value when the owner no longer cares for them at all. And let’s face it, they aren’t grieving the loss of souvenir bells from Tennessee or plates from Georgia right now. It’s not things that give us the best memories of our loved ones, it’s the experiences we shared.
Things are stressful. When Mt. Washmore reaches epic proportions and piles of laundry take over any open spaces on furniture, it frustrates me. There are four humans and two dogs in this house. That can generate quite a bit of laundry. One day I realized, we just don’t need this much stuff! I came across this quote: “Anything you cannot relinquish when it has outlived its usefulness possesses you, and in this materialistic age a great many of us are possessed by our possessions.” –Peace Pilgrim
It was a beautiful moment when I realized that I can control certain aspects of my own happiness and that I do have the ability to cultivate a peaceful atmosphere in my home. WHAT IF I only had ONE load of towels to wash? People around the world live with so much less. When did I begin to think that I needed so much? Quite simply, I don’t. When there are fewer things around, there are fewer things to maintain. I’ve spent the last few weeks going through the house getting rid of stuff. We’ve donated three carloads of things that others might need that we’ve just been hanging onto. How selfish of me to keep that extra blanket on the side table when there is someone else who might actually need it. What did we do with all of those old towels that amounted to TWO extra loads of laundry? We sent them to the local animal shelter, who was quite grateful to receive them because they ALWAYS need extra towels.
Something else has been whirling around as I’ve been clearing things out. Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” I am thankful to live in the house that the Invisible Man and I prayed for and waited to build for seven years. It’s a gift. I don’t want to take this place that’s meant to shelter my family and turn it into a place of chaos and stress by tripping over another pair of tennis shoes that don’t fit anymore or trying to cram another mug onto a shelf that’s overflowing. When you consider that He even didn’t have a place to call his own, it’s easier to let go of that blue vase that’s been under the sink for three years.
It’s a personal decision to let go of things. Our Invisible Family has been having conversations about this lately and we think this is the best thing to do for us. Just let things go. We’re clearing out, downsizing, prioritizing, and trying to teach the importance of people and experiences over stuff. I’m looking forward to our journey of less, and one of simplicity.