This turned out longer than I thought it was going to so... have a pot of tea ready and a plate of scones. :)
Instead of tea, I was sipping coffee with a friend Friday morning. We were chatting about decluttering and such (that which I have done and the decluttering she is in the process of doing). As I shared with her, getting the house and garage organized this past Spring meant giving away and taking to Goodwill items I really liked. By parting with the contents of various boxes, I was also coming to the realization that I needed to give up those things for which I had been holding onto. It was silly to continue moving boxes from one area to another when the truth was... they didn't fit... not in my house or my life as it is now.
My husband had the TV turned on when I arrived home and a Canadian show was just beginning. The guest began talking about the changes God had made in his life within the past couple of years. He felt the call of God to begin cutting away, giving up, and getting rid of even good things in his life to prepare him for how God wanted to use him from that day forward.
I had to smile (been there!) when he said he actually had tears in his eyes when he gave away books, files, years worth of research, as well as cancel half of his ministry appointments already made for the next year. God was doing a new thing, was he willing to pay the cost?
Although physically (in my home and with what I own), the downsizing and "cutting away" process began in 2000, the roots of it started in the 1980s when I was on a business trip. Just as He would later cause me to leave my Dream Home, He asked me to leave my Dream Job... and the bright Corporate future it held. I was on a business trip to San Francisco and before leaving, had decided to see the giant Redwood trees with one of the sales associates.
It was there, among the majesty of His creation, that I heard the call to leave... just as certain as if a flesh and blood person was standing next to me. I was to leave not only my Corporate job, I was to return home full time. I sensed more than heard that the decision I made would decide not only my future but my daughter's. Was I to continue on the path I desired (which held the very real possibility of true Corporate success), or was I to plant that seed in the ground... let it die... to bring Life to His will for my life.
It took me a year to make that decision. In that year, the circumstances surrounding my job changed in such a way as to make it easier to leave. Oh, I was still a rising star but those things which made it very difficult to leave were changed. My decision to quit was the talk of that corporation for awhile but looking back, I did the right thing. It was terribly difficult and caused an economic setback for awhile (I made about as much as my engineer husband) but twenty years later I know without a doubt that the fruit of that decision is the person I am today as well as my children (Christopher wouldn't arrive until the end of that decade).
Now, as I can actually see the results of that decision so long ago lived out in the lives of my husband, my children, and grandchildren, I know that this is far better than any Corporate success could ever bring me. But my younger self did not know that. I could not look ahead twenty years and imagine grandchildren (or even another child of my own). No, many times... most times... He calls us to act in blind faith.
There have been other seasons since the Corporate days. I was very involved in conservative politics for a long season, as was my husband. I became a Bible teacher and Bible Study writer (on just the local level). My interest in emergency preparedness which I have had since the 1970s resulted in getting computer savvy and becoming one of the administrator's of an emergency preparedness website and forum.
I had been curious about homeschooling when Stephanie was younger but when Christopher was in first grade, we made the decision to take him out of the public schools for the next year. We tried the public school again in third grade but at the end of the second semester, knew we would be homeschooling for years to come... ending up through high school. We had no idea at the time what a blessing that would become in our life.
Various seasons... different preparedness for each one... for the most part, not so difficult to enter each time. Then there is the season I am in now... having been forced to downsize permanently but at the same time, God providing this lovely little home at the edge of a forest. (The journey is well documented in past posts.) I am thankful to live in a part of the county (the American Midwest) where rural land is still quite reasonable, even for those on S. S. Disability.
However, by cutting out the excess and getting rid of those things I have been moving around these past years... just in case I could have a wee bit of my former lifestyle... I wasn't accepting this new season. I could say to friends and family that I understood the physical limitations the chronic illness brought about. I could use words that would leave all but those who know me very well to believe I was at peace with my husband's Disability and our current economic level.
But by holding on to that "stuff", I was living something entirely different... I was not satisfied in the least. It wasn't until I spent weeks and weeks going through the entire house, and especially all the stuff stored in the garage, and then getting rid of it... that I felt I truly had that peace. Throwing out files of research and clippings about theology, politics, and social issues... gone. What came about by giving up everything I would need should I decide to once again take part... freedom.
Clutter in our homes is only the outward manifestation of clutter in our hearts. We are not satisfied. We need the stuff to remind us of who we are, where we have been, where WE want to go. That doesn't mean everyone who has extra stuff will be asked to get rid of it. Some people are only temporarily passing through a smaller house. Many will once again need the extras in the boxes and the files in the cabinet.
But for others... like myself... I realized I am at that stage where all of it is behind me and as long as I held on to the clutter... I couldn't see what was ahead. Just like the guest on the Canadian show (who was the head of a Christian ministry), God would have to pour new wine into old wine skins and that does not work.
The world is changing, we are entering perilous times where the cause of Christ and the peace only He can give will be needed as never before. How thankful I am that I have cut the clutter from my heart as well as my house so He can speak to me today. In His goodness, He has left me with plenty of beauty, books, more than enough dishes, family... memories. He didn't ask me to bring before Him a vow of poverty as He did my friend, Freddie. Compared to many in the world, I still have more stuff than I need. He only asked me to get rid of those items which showed I was hanging on to the past... remaining in the old wine skins... not ready for the new.
It wasn't easy, it wasn't quick, it wasn't painless... but the clutter is for the most part... gone. Now I just need to make certain it doesn't return. :)