So, I am embarrassed to admit that I was watching Oprah yesterday. Nothing wrong with her show, it is just the “lazy-soccer-mom-stays-home-and-watches-Oprah-while-eating bon-bons” stereotype that I resist. Just so you know, I was emptying the dishwasher and preparing dinner while watching. No chocolate in sight.
The show caught my attention because the girls were still napping (a quiet house!) and because on the show they were cleaning out a really “cluttered” house. If my mother ever watched a single episode of Oprah and saw it, she would have called it a “downright pig-sty”, and would have said they had no “home-training.” But today’s terminology is “cluttered.” I can get with that.
Now, I don’t think our house is overly cluttered, but the potential is one pair of shoes away. Our house is smaller and seriously lacking in closet space. I mean, right now, there are only two functioning closets for clothes – the master bedroom and the front closet. All the other clothes closets have had their doors and clothing bars removed and now have bookshelves or dressers in them to create a more spacious look in the room itself.
So, needless to say, any overflow of shoes, clothing, or accessories have nowhere to go except in the garage in a box. In fact, almost all of my shoes are on some shelves in the garage. Kind of hard to get dressed when you have to go to the garage or dig in a box. Now, mind you, I am willing to admit that my closet is plenty big. I simply have too much stuff. So, either we buy a bigger house to store all 2 gazillion pairs of shoes, or I pare down. Simplify. I decided paring down was cheaper.
So, I watched Oprah. I was inspired to get rid of everything not in “the present”. My closet and the myriad of boxes in the garage were filled with items from “the past” (“I wore that on our first date”, or “I spent way to much money to throw that away!”) or from “the future” (“I will get back into that pair of size 4 pants if it kills me” or “I might need to wear that one day”). I am inspired to try to live in the present.
Well, unfortunately, I realize that I have not fully accepted my present. Why? In the last 4 years I got married in my late 30s, moved to a new town, and had 2 children. I think my brain is still stuck in my career focused, socially active, living by myself mindset. Am I really that stay at home mom who wears sweats 6 times more often than dress slacks? Is my social life now playgroups and birthday parties? Do I really share my house with 3 other people and so cannot take over every closet in the place to store my clothes and shoes? Am I now to accept that my butt is really that big?
I sit here staring at a pile of sequined evening dresses as the reality of my new life hits me with a thud like a chubby unwanted bully. Cleaning out the closet seems to be resurrecting a need for therapy.
Now, mind you, I love my new life with my girls and my husband dearly. I would not trade them for anything. So why is choosing to live in the present and give up my favorite jeans that no longer fit and those 4 inch stilettos that kill my toes so difficult?
Clinging to the past
So many of my things remind me of the past…I have many happy memories, and have some regret about the way I have accumulated things. Ecclesiastes encourages us to live in the present, not the past. Eccl.5:19-20 To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life, that is indeed a gift from God. People who do this rarely look with sorrow on the past, for God has given them reasons for joy.
Living for the Future
The things that I don’t use, I tend to save because I might need them in the future. I mean, should we be out of work and become homeless with no money, at least I will have my black crocodile stilettos to wear while we panhandle, right? And you never know, I might just get back to my pre-baby weight and shape so that I can wear all those size six fancy suits while I avoid being touched by little fingers covered in mashed bananas.
I realize that hording things for some moment in the future is simply worry in a form that is more difficult to recognize. After all, God is the one who gives me a future – He has the plans. My next breath belongs to Him. Jer 31:16-17 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. There is hope for your future,” says the LORD. ”
Now, of course there is reasonable planning for the future that wisdom dictates we do. But I don’t need to keep so many extraneous things to feel secure. God has given me hope for my future. He has given me reasons for joy.
My Present: a reason for joy
So cleaning out my closet and dresser is my first stab at living my life in the present. My sweats wearing, grubby kids handprint wiping, dinner cooking, Volvo driving, big hipped, wonderful, blessed present.
“So I tell you, don’t worry about everyday life whether you have enough food, drink, and clothes. Doesn’t life consist of more than food and clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t need to plant or harvest or put food in barns because your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than they are. Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not.
“And why worry about your clothes? Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t he more surely care for you? You have so little faith!
“So don’t worry about having enough food or drink or clothing. Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things? Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern. “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.