Three weeks??!! The buyer wanted us to close on our house in three weeks. Twenty-four years in this house and it needed to be decluttered and cleaned out in just twenty-one days. Our realtor was worried. Our friends said it couldn’t be done. We reassured ourselves that it would be fine, but we quickly learned that we may have over simplified things.
Is there a time in your life when you’ve had a situation like this? The panic! This pressure! Here’s how I survived and found my way out of chaos and into peace.
Over the years, we watched friends and family sell their homes and move and they seemed to do so easily. Periodically over those years, we would remind ourselves that we were doing well at not accumulating things. Our house was organized with boxes and bins tucked neatly away in all the nooks and crannies. However, we were so successful in tucking away those boxes and bins that we soon forgot how many we had. Out of sight, out of mind!
On the first day of packing, I took donation boxes, trash bags, and a few moving boxes to the basement. I began to hunt down and find all the things we had been neatly storing for all those years. It took about an hour for me to realize that we had held on to far more physical reminders of memories than I thought. There were dozens and dozens of boxes of mementos from our parents’ lives and from our own lives as a family of six. Each box was densely packed and collections of photos, school crafts, paperwork, and other mementos quickly became both overwhelming and exhausting. Those reassuring phrases of, “How bad can it be?” turned into comments like, “This is impossible. We will never get it done! Why did we hold onto so many things?”
Searching for solutions
I scoured the Internet for approaches to downsizing and decluttering that had worked for other people and found several ideas such as taking photos of each item and then either donating or throwing the item away. Another great piece of advice was to prioritize memories. Did I really need each child’s report card from each year they attended school? Did I need to keep every cute outfit my babies had worn or was there enough life left in the clothing so someone else’s baby could wear it?
When I reached a saturation point in reliving the memories from those boxes, I learned to take an emotional and physical break. A quick call with a loved one or a walk through the neighborhood provided the recharging I needed to tackle that box again later.
Calming the Chaos
Just as moving can be filled with chaos, there are times in life when my mind is filled with thoughts and worries that can create sleepless nights. There are intrusions of anxieties about people I love, regrets about things said or done, and concerns about countless seemingly insignificant things. Once those thoughts intrude, it can be difficult to quiet them.
The Bible makes it clear that God understands those times of chaotic thinking and wants to help us quiet our minds. Philippians 4:8-9 gives us a roadmap to get us through the detours of those anxious thoughts. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
That is a big but direct recipe for a quiet mind! While it is overwhelming to restructure all our thoughts, it helps me to simply choose to focus on one positive experience or one good thought at a time.
Have you had a time in your life where you needed peace? If you are looking for new ways to declutter your life and find clarity, add spending time with Jesus to your calendar. There are simple ways to do this:
- Purchase a daily devotion book. Visit Lifeway or Amazon and find a daily devotional book that fits your busy schedule.
- Download the Bible App and find a short study that works in your schedule.
- Have young kids & want to get them involved too? Check out Shepherd’s Gate’s SG Kids program where they can learn about Jesus in a welcoming, fun, kid-friendly environment.
Roadmap to Peace
When I was wrestling with the boxes of memories before our move, I learned to choose one tangible item to keep and to catalog the other things – even when that meant recycling bag after bag of children’s artwork, school notes, letters discussing trivial matters, and so much more. I kept the end goal in mind.
Three weeks later, we said good-bye to that empty house. Our new home is far less cluttered and I plan to keep my new perspective of living more simply. And tonight, before I sleep, I will thank God for his roadmap to peace.