This weekend I tackled a long-overdue project of cleaning out a large closet that had become overrun with clutter. In the process, I gathered up several bags’ worth of items to donate to charity.
Doing such clean-outs always fills me with conflicting emotions. On the one hand, it feels wonderful to have the clutter cleared out and be able to actually walk into the closet without tripping over anything or having anything fall on my head. On the other hand, I usually feel a sense of guilt when I’m getting rid of items, especially items that I rarely or never used. It sounds bizarre, but sometimes I feel like I should use those items for a certain amount of times before parting with them. Of course, that makes no sense–if I haven’t used or worn an item by now, no matter how much good money I’ve paid for it, why do I think I’ll use it now?
This summer I read Marie Kondo’s best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It’s quite an interesting book; some of Kondo’s methods seem a bit too strict for my taste and even a bit, well, weird. One of her more peculiar suggestions was with regards to the struggle to get rid of items that we no longer find useful but feel guilty for having spent money on them. She suggested actually verbally thanking the items for their usefulness and then discarding them. It seems a little kooky to say aloud, “Thank you, sweater, for keeping me warm”, but I get where she’s coming from. Rather than focusing on the times we didn’t use whatever the item we’re getting rid of, she focuses on and appreciates the times it was used.
I thought about Kondo’s advice as I was doing my cleaning out this weekend, and decided to adapt it a bit. As I drove to the thrift store with my trunk full of items to donate, I thanked God for blessing me so richly and for giving me far more than I truly need. I thanked Him for letting me use all of the things that I was now parting with, and asked Him to help me better appreciate what I have and make good use of it. Perhaps if I can start doing that each time I go through a closet or wardrobe clean-out, I’ll feel less guilty for what I’m getting rid of and instead see it all with appreciation for what God has given me.