It’s something we’re all longing for in our lives, aren’t we? I never cease to be amazed by how commercialism tries to seize on this longing and package up the clothes, the shoes, the car, you name it, and sell us on the concept of how it will bring us happiness or some sense of fulfillment. We see that in the commercials and the ads, don’t we…the look of happiness that spreads across the actor or model’s face as they use or experience the product. And it’s easy for us to fall for it, hook, line and sinker, isn’t it? I mean, just look at how happy they are and how great they look!
Just this morning, I found myself at the airport, admiring a woman’s boots, and quickly thought to myself about how I’d love a pair just like them. Except…well, except….I don’t really need them. Sure, I like them. But, I don’t need them. I have a few pairs in my closet, and that’s more than sufficient. Although I loved the pair she had on, I’m content with what I have.
Years ago, though, I probably would have tracked those boots down in record time and bought them, even though I had a pile of boots waiting for me to wear. Why would I have still bought them? Because deep down inside, I wasn’t happy with who I was. I wasn’t content with what I had materially, even though my closet was bursting at the seams, (especially as compared to the pared down version that I have today), because everything would never be enough. No pair of boots, no purse, nothing would ever bring me joy.
And although it’s okay to buy things, for ourselves, our families and others, I want to challenge you to consider the source of your joy, the source of your contentment. Is the new bag you’re just itching to have what you’re REALLY looking for? Is it what you REALLY need? Or is it an empty fulfillment?
They don’t call it retail therapy for nothing.
Somewhere over the years, I learned to stop looking for something to make me feel good about myself, and quite simply (although really not so simple for so many), learned to love myself. The me in sweatpants and no makeup tending to the house and kids each day. The me in a dress and high heels as I speak to a crowd of a thousand people. The me in a suit as I testify before Congress. No matter where I am and what I’m doing, I’m sure of who I am. I’m content with who God made me to be. And that sense of peace has pervaded my life to the point that not only do I not go chasing down the next material item to fill a void, but I even continue to pare down what can feel like the endless array of items we accrue as a family.
As I foraged through our house this week, finishing up with spring cleaning (raise your hand if you’re doing the same at your house ✋✋), I realized that the more I get rid of, the better that I feel. And surprisingly, so do our children. It’s clear to me that the less clothing that Olivia has to look through in her closet each day, the easier it is for her to find something to wear. And it’s WAY less overwhelming for her to make a decision. The same is to be said for Ava and her toys. The less she has, the more likely she is to play with them, and the less likely I am to hear the words, “I’m bored.”
Of course, as I cleaned out their rooms, I also came to the realization that although all of the items that we bought them over the years brought them enjoyment for a period of time, it was always short lived.
As we focus more on sharing experiences with our daughters, as opposed to having “things,” for that very reason outlined above, I realize that being content with and within yourself is the key to living a joyful and more minimal life, and the more you pare away, the more content you are. It’s cyclical in nature, and that’s how I want to raise our daughters.
You know that feeling of relief you get when you fill a bunch of bags with items to give to charity or throw away? When you work through whatever problems you’re facing your life, when you accept who you are, faults, strengths, hurts and all, you’re decluttering your heart and mind, and what an incredible sense of relief and joy that brings. And of course, the more you allow God to fill that void you’ve been facing, the less you’ll need anything but Him to bring joy, peace and contentment.
Our purging to purchase ratio has now reached a great tipping point where we have less and less to go through every season that I clean out the house. And it feels good!
Think how you would feel if you spring clean not just your closets, but your heart! Now is as good of time as any to start decluttering, dusting off some cobwebs, and finding renewed contentment and joy.