By Michelle S. Lazurek, Crosswalk.com
My home is one of the gifts I count when I think about all the ways God has blessed me. When we moved from a small town in Pennsylvania to a larger town in the same state, and we bought our second house, I was floored by how much stuff we had accumulated. My husband had to go to our previous home three times just to get all our things! I realized I wasn’t being a good steward of what God had given us, even with de-cluttering and cleaning a couple of times a month. I didn’t need all the extra items, and having to spend physical energy organizing it all quickly drained my emotional well-being. After some deep cleaning, I was still amazed at how much stuff I had despite all that cleaning. I had to prioritize what I needed and what I could throw away. It took some soul-searching to figure out exactly which items stayed and which got placed in the trash.
If you have a ton of stuff, there are ways you can eliminate clutter and free up physical space in your home, plus receive the mental and emotional space that may be weighing you down.
Here are six ways I decluttered my home in just a few weeks of throwing away:
First, I challenged myself to throw away anything that I had not used for over six months. Since the Lenten season was upon me, I threw away at least one bag of garbage a day. I challenged myself to throw away 100 items of clothing and 100 books since those were the two items in my home that I accumulated the most. The clothing alone took up ten trash bags! I donated the books to a local charity and was astounded at how many I bought with the intention of reading but never did. Then I went through each main space of my home: my cabinets, closets, shelves, etc., and began the decluttering process. This amounted to ten more bags of unused items. When I was done, I felt lighter in my spirit.
Second, I shifted my perspective to thinking that I could make a difference in my community by donating my items. When I donated to local charities, they could make money off my items and help those in need. For example, one charity in my community helps those who have been freed from a life of drug addiction and are trying to live a sober, healthy life. My new understanding that they needed my items motivated me to be more diligent and to throw more away. As someone who tends to be a pack rat, the more I freed myself of the physical clutter, the freer I felt in my mind and spirit. It amazed me how little I needed when I could distinguish between what I needed and what I wanted.
Third, I vowed to buy only what I needed. This was perhaps the hardest step for me since I love yard sales. Each weekend in the summer, my husband and I go to different community yard sales and hunt for treasures. When I shifted my focus from hunting for treasures to make myself happy to buying only what I needed, it eliminated the need for a lot of excess de-cluttering, and not having the extra burden of cleaning helped my psyche by allowing me to focus on things that really matter.
Fourth, I bought mainly from thrift stores. The same places that I donated from were the same places I promised to buy from. Although I don't shop there completely, I shop there about ninety percent of the time. I stopped going to chain stores, especially those that pushed certain theological views on me that I did not agree with, and I vowed to go only to stores that would help my local community. My shopping at these places helps them produce more revenue that would help them continue to meet the needs of my community. I was equally as amazed at how many special items I could find when I looked hard enough.
Fifth, I limited the number of sentimental items I kept. This is especially true of the items from my children's childhood. Because I kept many of their things from their infancy and early childhood, it took up a lot of space in my home. Instead, I took out one big organizer tote and filled it with as many things as I wanted to keep. When that bin was full, I stopped collecting. Although it was sad to throw out many of their baby toys that held special memories for me, I knew holding on to them was not going to bring their childhood back. I had photos and videos I could look back on and relive those memories without keeping the actual physical item. This helped free up a lot of space, and as I was able to shift my focus from one of sentimentality to one of simplicity, I looked forward to the next chapter of living simply.
Sixth, some clothing was too good to simply throw away, so I sold it. I took advantage of local yard sales with high traffic to make a few dollars. Not only was I able to make a couple hundred dollars, but I also was able to get rid of a lot of stuff. This was additionally helpful and freed up my mental and emotional space because I was making back a little of what I spent on those items. All the throwing things away was free, but it was equally as freeing when a person paid me a few dollars for otherwise expensive items.
Seventh, I challenged my children to do the same. Although I was able to maintain my own clutter, their clutter became more difficult. When I challenged them to become simpler and decide which stuff to keep and which to get rid of, it made me feel like the house was becoming more spacious. It gave me extra room where I didn't have any items. It was also easier to have people over or have an extra bedroom, so guests could have a place to sleep for the night.
Although this may be difficult, especially for someone who has sentimental memories attached to their stuff, I want to challenge you to do the same thing. Jesus lived a simple life. He didn't even have a home but rather accepted the hospitality of those who would take him in and provide for his needs. God will provide for your needs, but first, we must stop living independent lives and start living interdependently with God. When we get rid of excess stuff, we say to God, “All of my stuff is yours. The less stuff I have, the more I can be used for your purposes.” By shifting your perspective, selling your stuff, throwing away what's not needed, and challenging yourself to live a simpler life, the physical, emotional, and mental relief you may feel after you've purged unnecessary items from your possessions will afford you the inner peace and joy you desire.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Vera_Petrunina
Michelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.
In the video are 5 Tips for Decluttering Your Space by Michelle S. Lazurek.