Christ-Like Minimalism

Decluttering For Lent

I’ve been trying to declutter a few areas of my life for Lent–spiritually and physically. I want to get rid of the noise. You know, the things that keep me from hearing Jesus.

In prayer, I’m often distracted and don’t even realize it. For example, when I’m praying the psalms in the morning, I’m not thinking about them. I’m thinking about my coffee. Or the sick kid, or my grocery list, or the hole in my sock. Anything, but what the psalmist is trying to say to me. I need to get better at listening.

I want to be intentional. I want to be present to Jesus everywhere, at all times.

Then there are the things or the “stuff” of my life. How many cookbooks do I own and never consult? Do I really need more than five skirts per season? How many nights a week should one have a glass of wine?

Or better yet–one that hurts a little–why do I like bright lipstick so much? Why? Is it perhaps because I’m vain?

Alas! I have so many attachments.

And little by little, I’m asking Jesus to scrape away the filth and the clutter, which reminded me of a true story I wrote about a couple of years ago. It’s about a family whose house burned down. I’ll post the whole thing below.

The Family Whose House Burned Down

A few years ago a local family lost their entire house to a fire.  It was devastating, as they only escaped with the clothes on their backs.  Somehow I got wind of it all and heard that they were living in hotel room and were asking for household supplies to start over again.

So I thought, what can I give?  I went to the basement and grabbed our extra suitcase.  (I thought they might as well have that.)  And I began to fill it.  I had an extra quilt.  I had a whole set of unused kitchen towels.  I had a few kids’ games that were never used.  I found so many things that I filled the suitcase and had to get a garbage bag.

Then I found my beautiful set of extra silverware that I had never used.  I held the wooden box in my hands.  It was a gift that someone had given to us for our wedding.  I didn’t want to part with it, partly because I worried about what that person would think should she find out and partly because the set was complete and like I said, beautiful.

I started to put it back on the shelf, but something inside me said no.  This lovely silverware set was not meant for me.  It was meant for this poor family, and so in the end I gave it too.

The next day I drove over to the hotel and gave them my things.  The mother of the family was so thankful.  So thankful.  But you know what?  I was the one who was thankful for the opportunity to give.  I walked away with Love burning in my heart.

Of course when we simplify or declutter our homes and give things away, we don’t always get to see who might benefit from it all.  But that one time I did get to see.  And it was worth it.

But it is always worth it, no matter what.  For giving our things away teaches us detachment from them, and more importantly, it teaches us Love.

Life is Worth Living

My Favorite Dress: A Tale of Pride & Woe

The other day I put on my favorite dress.  I haven’t been able to wear it for awhile, due to the fact that I was pregnant and then had a baby.  And you must remember, most dresses are not conducive to nursing babies.

So I finally shook the dust off of it and slipped it over my head.  It fit!  Miracle.  Wow, I felt almost glamorous.  My husband gave me a double-take.  This was going to be a good day.

As the day wore on, however, I found myself thinking of…myself.  Yes, considering my dress, how neat it looked, how neat I looked.  Every time I passed a mirror, I checked myself out.  Still looking good.

Later on my husband and I loaded up all 7 children and drove to church for Stations of the Cross.  My husband and two of the boys were serving, so I was in the pew with the remaining 5 children. Do I need to say, that I didn’t expect to enter deeply into this devotion?

After about the second or third station, I had to take the baby out into the narthex, where I put her on the floor, knelt down, and attempted to pray from the St. Alphonsus Liguori booklet.  Then I was bombarded with thoughts of…my lovely dress.

This was obsessive.  This was not good.  All day my thoughts were of my dress and how I looked.  What was going on?

Then a thought whispered to my soul, “Do you love this dress more than Me?”

Whoa.  My heart pounded.  What?

“Do you love this dress more than Me?”

I was holding that booklet and staring at a picture of Mary, holding Jesus.  He was completely emaciated, and I realized how stupid and foolish I had been.  How blind!  Do I love this dress more than you, Jesus?  No, of course not.  Forgive me, Jesus.  Forgive me.  What shall I do?

But I knew what I had to do, even before I finished the thought.  This dress must go.  It will be a sacrifice in atonement for my pride and vanity.

And so that evening, I took my favorite dress off for the last time.  It will be given away.

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Not much of a dress, I know, but nevertheless, goodbye, dress.