It all started with a closet project. Little did I know that it would turn into so much more.
Our home has more than ample storage, but the problem is we have dumped stuff there. The stuff that is falling out of the closets and the basement means there is stuff everywhere in our house, as well. Storage is of no value if you do not use it well.
That brings me to our downstairs guest room’s closet. It has looked like this for 3 ½ years.
I would tidy the middle part of it when things were falling out, but I never took the time to tackle the big job. It seemed overwhelming and time consuming, and nobody has time for that with 2 active boys, no headspace and a side of tired. It wasn’t urgent, so it kept getting stuffed around what was urgent.
This week has afforded a few days where there was no agenda. It has been a wearying season where there has not been room to unpack my mind and heart let alone a closet that carries baggage that I have to sort through. I found myself thinking of the closet, and it wasn’t a “should” but a “this would be healthy to do.”
What was in the closet? Letters, pictures, albums (nostalgic girl here), boxes that had not been unpacked since our move 3 ½ years ago, storage bins of art materials, boxes and storage bins filled with random objects where I had to “hide stuff” from company, random throw pillows, important business documents, etc.
I knew it would not be a fast job, and I knew I needed to be mentally and physically prepared to tackle it.
So, I began taking stuff out which made a bigger overwhelming mess.
There were times I didn’t know what in the world to do next. I thought—“what have I done? I could be watching Christmas movies, building a puzzle or taking a nap.” (All my go-to escapes). I toyed with closing the door, and not using the room again.
However, it was time. It took me a day and a half—going through every box, every paint bottle, every random notebook.
Thoughtful examination was required to see what should be kept and purposefully used, what should be discarded, and what was worthy to give away. I examined things that were unfinished projects and asked the hard question—“Am I holding on to this because I ‘should’ or is it a worthy thing to follow through with in this season?” I add, in this season, because that’s where I get myself bogged down. I see the possibilities in all things, but I end up going nowhere.
Then, I began placing things that I found purposeful back into the closet with a rhyme and a reason. They are accessible now. I know what’s there—it is not a mystery. There is room there to put other things that fit into certain categories. There is room for a guest to hang clothes and put a suitcase (aka I could actually be hospitable to welcome others).
As I was walking through the process, I thought, this would be an awesome blog post—there are so many life parallels. Then, the Lord awakened me at 2 am in the morning and started really dealing with my heart, gulp.
He asked me to look without background noise or distraction, without the sounds of the day at what I was storing in my life. Jen, What is superfluous and crowding out what is truly life giving? What do you think is a harmless habit that literally is stealing room in your soul to have margin and peace? Where is the baggage that you just keep stuffing (like your closet and basement) that is literally encroaching on every area of your life? Jen, do you feel peace and purpose or just a lot of noise? It is time to look and to deal and to see what you want to expel from your heart and your head and what you want to pass on and what you want to keep in an orderly fashion.
It is scary—actually terrifying—to ponder what is really in our hearts, huh? It takes time, courage, grit, humility. The real beauty though, is that the One who created, sustains and redeems us, will guide us in GRACE. If we will take the time to truthfully and bravely tackle our stuff, He will meet us in the middle of all the piles that seem completely impossible and overwhelming. He will teach us what to hold on to, what to let go of permanently and temporarily, and what to literally destroy in the trash. God is not a God of confusion or disorder, but I will tell you, it takes time to sort through the things we have experienced and stuffed trying to handle it on our own.
We think our fear is telling us the truth, but fear is a liar. Fear tells us to throw it in there and ignore it—stuff it. Fear tells us, “He really doesn’t know what He is doing—this is a much better plan to numb yourself or to take control on your terms.” Fear says, “did He really say or mean this?” Once we make a habit of listening to that fear, we become weary of substance. We run out of space in our closets and basements and our junk pours forth into the public areas of life. We cannot hide our stuff. There is no margin to deal with it.
When we walk (however TERRIFIED we are) with The Lord, He who calls you is FAITHFUL to walk with us and transform us. It’s gonna look messy as we continually bring piles before Him, but it is going to be freeing in all the ways. He calls us to draw near to Him to sort what is good and purposeful and life-giving and honoring in our lives. There is space and margin and ROOM when we take COURAGE to go there with Him.
So, I encourage each of us to look intently into His word and His purposes and lay our lives next to them. Let us be brave, reach out to others when we want to hide and when we feel that our closet’s contents will literally suffocate us. The truth is…they will, apart from Him. In the midst of our piles, the truth of the Gospel allows us to draw near to Him with confidence because Jesus has paid our debts with His life and death and resurrection. He says “remain in me, and you will bear much fruit. Apart from me, you can do nothing.”