Stuff! I have too much stuff. It clutters my house and my mind, and I’ve finally decided to do something about it. I have almost finished purging the whole main floor of my home and I LOVE IT! Why on earth did I feel like I needed T-shirts from high school, sign-language textbooks, or a million other things I “might need someday.” I am loving this minimalist lifestyle, which leads me to ask myself, “Why did I hold onto things for so long? Why was it so hard to let things go?” The answer: it was easier in the moment.
It was easier to shuffle things around, put them in new totes, or reorganize them. It was easier because then I didn’t have to actually think about it. I didn’t have to ask myself hard questions. But that was a lie. It wasn’t easier. It was actually a whole lot harder. Letting go of things–whether in your home, your schedule, or your mind–that don’t reflect your true self, although sometimes difficult, is so so much better.
For me it is especially hard during the holiday season. I know that if I’m not intentional about how I spend my time, money and thoughts, I’m drowning before December, overwhelmed by all the things (any one of which may or may not really matter!). Consequently the holidays can be more exhausting than edifying, and more commercial than Christ-filled.
Since this is a Small Seed post, you can probably imagine where I am going with this (high five!). This minimalism mindset also has some serious spiritual application. How much “stuff” fills our lives, our schedules, our time, our families, our minds? A lot! Yet how often do we purge our souls?
So how do you do it? I read a few books about this minimalist view point. Each one had a series of questions you can ask yourself to determine whether to keep or let go of an item. Here are a few examples:
Does it bring joy?
Has it served its purpose?
Does it fit me or my lifestyle?
These questions were super helpful! Today I want to give you some questions you can ask yourself when trying to purge your soul. You can literally take all the things that are filling your life (each calendar item, habit, thought, goal, and/or desire) and ask yourself:
Does this bring me closer to Christ?
Does this help to fulfill my purpose here on earth?
Will this bring me joy in the eternal sense?
Does this thing mold me into the person God wants me to become?
Am I doing this to show my love for others?
Can I share a little example that happened to me this week? I heard of something that a friend said about one of my children. It hurt. I saved it away in my mind in order to bring it up with her at the perfect time. I wanted her to know that I knew what she said, and I wasn’t happy about it. Then one day it came to the front of my mind and I was hurt by it again. I thought about when I might bring it up. Then a thought came to me “What if you just let it go?” Could I do that? So I had to ask myself,”Will throwing this at my friend bring me joy eternally?” No. It might feel good for a minute, but ultimately it would put a huge damper on the friendship that I cherish. So I told God that I would let it go. And guess what happened after that… instant peace!
Source: handlettered design
I am not going to say that removing unnecessary things from your life is easy. It can be difficult, and it can take time. You might even hurt feelings or have to break difficult habits. But I promise that you will be better for it.
Have you ever pruned a tree? Cutting off all of the dead or diseased branches seems logical (like letting go of the things we already know aren’t doing us any good). Chopping off the seemingly useful branches, however, does not seem logical. But it is essential.
Because each branch on a tree takes nutrients from the roots, too many branches without a strong enough root system can result in disease, stunted growth, or a failure to bear fruit. So, cutting down the seemingly “good” branches is absolutely necessary. Likewise, if we want a strong, healthy, fruitful, rooted life, we have to get pruning. Frequent pruning ensures that our branches don’t overgrow our roots.
As the scriptures remind us, “But if ye neglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers away, and ye pluck it up and cast it out” (Alma 32:38).
Can I challenge you to do something? Look at your calendar. Write down your list of things to do for the next two weeks. Now if you feel overwhelmed, review the five questions above. What needs to be trimmed? If your first reaction is “I can’t trim anything”, look again. Find the branches in your life that need to be cut off. Ask the hard questions that will lead to a more fruitful life. Have courage to say “no” to the things that don’t belong. And, however difficult, let go of the things that are holding you back from becoming the person God wants you to be.
You can do it! I know you can, and I promise it will be worth it.