Decluttering, Part 1

At the end of 5th grade, I was so sad. My 3 best friends and I made plans to call each other every week, and I breathed a heavy sigh of relief that at least Erin and I would attend the same middle school. And then, there was the box.

I grabbed a big cardboard box and a thick black Sharpie and began writing all over it. In the middle, I scrawled, “The Transition Years,” and around the edges, I write, “5th grade,” “8th grade” and “12th grade.” I filled it with every memento of 5th grade I deemed important: a class photo, a note from a teacher, some stories I journaled, and other stuff I don’t even remember. I tucked it away in my closet, confident that in 3 years, I would dig it back out to fill a bit more with remnants of 8th grade.

I was scared of forgetting, so I held on to the stuff.

Recently, my department at work completed the Strengthfinders assessment together. My second strength is input. When I read that the first time, I responded with a solid, “huh?” But, once I read the description, a lightbulb went off. 

You are inquisitive. You collect things. You might collect information — words, facts, books, and quotations — or you might collect tangible objects such as butterflies, baseball cards, porcelain dolls, or sepia photographs. Whatever you collect, you collect it because it interests you. And yours is the kind of mind that finds so many things interesting. The world is exciting precisely because of its infinite variety and complexity.


It’s so me! So many of my habits–the wide range of interests, the frequently changing hobbies, the books, the scrapbooking–fall under the “input” category so nicely.

I no longer have that box from the 5th grade. But, I do have boxes and boxes of photos, collections of books and baseball cards and candles and mason jars, extra collections of dishes just in case, and a million half-finished projects. 

I used to be good at multi-tasking, and I enjoyed having many balls in the air at once. I didn’t mind floating from one project to the next, coming back around whenever the mood struck.

But lately? I just can’t handle all this information. My mind feels continually overwhelmed, a tangled up ball of yarn, and it might all unravel if you pull too hard at one end. I may have forgotten what it means to focus. 

When I look at Jesus’ life, I can’t help but notice that He was extremely focused. Though He travelled far and had impact more far reaching than I can begin to fathom, so little stuff actually filled His days. He prayed. He ate. He taught. He built relationships, and He met the needs of others. 

Truly, He didn’t do much else! Yet consider the scope of His influence, the lives that were changed in His wake. 

He never strayed from the significant and the meaningful.

I want to do less and be more within each day.

I want to do less and be more with my whole life. 

I want less excess, in every category, so I can have more of what matters. This is the beginning.

Evan and I are embarking on a decluttering challenge and considering what minimalism might look like for us, going forward. I plan on documenting what I’m thinking and learning about it here along the way.

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