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It’s Amy’s fault.
As soon as she mentioned she was doing a 40bags challenge for Lent (giving away one bag of Stuff each day during Lent), that was it – I was hooked. Like Amy, my motivation was largely selfish, excited about the excuse to de-clutter all the Randomness which quickly builds up in our home, but I also sensed that sorting through our possessions on such a large scale would also be spiritually cleansing.
As you’ll know by now, I didn’t achieve this challenge in 40 days. (Why stick to 40, when 60 is so much more…expansive?) So now, more than a month after Easter, here’s what I learnt from my Lent challenge.
The first two bags were filled in about 20 minutes one afternoon before the school run. The ease at which I could release these possessions both relieved and disgusted me – relief from the sense that I was holding lightly to what I own, but disgust from just how easy it was to identify superfluous goods.
I gave away some classic books – and, with these, gave away the notion that I will ever be the sort of person who will read a book twice.
I gave away my academic texts which look impressive on our bookshelves – and let go of the need to look intellectual when people visit our home.
I encouraged my children to fill a bag with their toys – and, as their non-materialistic selves happily made a pile of things they didn’t want, I let go of my overwhelming urge to cautiously rein in their generosity, knowing that to do so would be to point them towards the path of Consumerism.
I gave away the beautiful, soft maroon suit I bought for my first job – and, with this, let go of the need to define myself by what I used to do.
I gave away my favourite ever boots, which have long been unwearable – and let go of the idea that they could ever mean more to me than simple foot coverings.
I threw away food which has been around longer than my children. Cornflour pushed to the back of the cupboard, pomegranate seeds I will never use, ready-made icing – hardened and unforgiving. I threw it away – and let go of the guilt I’m wired to feel when throwing away food.
It scares me how much of my identity is wrapped up in what I own. But, this Spring, I untangled myself a little from the complex relationship I have with my Stuff. Perhaps, instead, I will find a little more of my identity in Christ.