Monday, February 11, 2013

40 Bags in 40 Days

Clutter drives me crazy, yet I can't escape it.  It stresses me out and makes me really cranky, yet after almost 14 years of marriage, my dear hubby still doesn't understand this.  Yes, I have told him in no uncertain terms that clutter makes me crazy!  He's oblivious (or maybe he's just learned to tune out my crazy-woman tirades) and, unfortunately, he is passing that along to our sons.  Unless you count Bitsy, the diva dog, I am the lone female in our household, and I'm drowning in a sea of testosterone and stinky socks.   I've tried so hard to teach our boys to pick up after themselves, to clean up their messes,etc., but most of the time I feel as if I'm beating my head against a brick wall.  I pray that someday it will all sink in, but so far it doesn't look very promising.  So.... if sometime in the future, a daughter in law or two finds themselves reading this, please know I tried, I really did try.  I'm sorry!

On the drive home at the end of the day, I feel the tension rise. I know there will be a cluttered mess waiting for me.  Home should be a place of comfort and refuge, not stress and anxiety - it's all too much for me. Therefore, I have decided that my Lenten penance will be to participate in a 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge.  I'm not linking up with anyone, I'm challenging myself.  Hopefully I will benefit by not only de-cluttering my home, but by de-cluttering my mind and spirit as well.  I need to let go.  Simply Catholic described so eloquently how I'm feeling and what I hope to accomplish, so I'll just share what they said:
"In my home clutter comes in different types and each is rather symbolic for some of the spiritual sicknesses so many people suffer from.  Fear, vanity,  covetousness, pride, sloth and envy all help us become fearsome consumers.   We have too many possessions, too many aspirations, too little time.   We have so many good intentions and so many fears and we are all drowning in excess of everything, we freeze in the face of so much to do then we do not do those things we should.  We become victims, buried in our stuff and slaves to our desires."
"A good priest once told me that he believed most sin was born of a desire for something good that ended up twisted, disordered and gone awry.   While I am certainly not equating have too much stuff or being hopelessly cluttered with mortal sin, there is a parallel and a peril.   If our possessions consume the time and talents that we should be spending on relationships with our God, our loved ones and our community then they are a problem.   If we devote so much of our efforts to acquiring, managing, storing, cleaning and ultimately disposing of our stuff then we miss out on chances to love.  Stuff will never replace what is missing in our hearts, it will never keep us safe from uncertainty, it will not make us more beautiful, healthy, faithful or immune to aging.    Clutter will not protect us from the outside world.   When we couple the 40 Trash Bag Challenge with Lent sometimes it hurts.  Sometimes the letting go hurts.  Sometimes it is frightening, sometimes is brings up painful memories, sometimes it forces us to confront fears - and that is a good thing.   This isn't just stuff we are de-junking from our home - this is a load we are setting down.  Depending on how attached you are to your stuff, how much emotion you put into it those things can be hard.   Even if you don't attach a lot of emotion to stuff the letting go can be hard.   That is what makes it a Lenten Sacrifice." 
So, here's what I'm going to do:  Over the Lenten period of 40 days, I will gather and dispose of 40 bags.  By dispose of, I mean I will either throw it away, give it away or donate it.  Daily household trash, obviously would not count as one of my 40 bags.  The size of the bag doesn't matter.  What does matter is the letting go - letting go of the physical, emotional and spiritual baggage.

Oh, and dear family members:  If you leave items in the common areas of the home, those items will be fair game for the 40 bag challenge - consider yourself warned. 

Do any of you have special things you do or maybe hope to accomplish during this time of prayer and preparation?  I hope to be able to post updates as I work through this challenge. If you'd like to participate in this challenge with me, let me know.  I'd like to hear how doing a cleanse such as this affects others as well.

Until then.... may the peace of Christ be with you.