This is the real stuff.
This week, I turned to my own closet for my Lenten purge.
This week, it’s not about offering cloth diapers to a mom less fortunate, or donating food to a food pantry. No, it’s far less glamorous.
I had to strip away the illusion of ministry or generosity and ask myself to let go.
I knew one week in Lent I would turn to my own belongings. I had a pile of clothes covered in paint from the Habitat build that I looked forward to purging. My husband bought me a new pair of sneakers for Christmas so I expected to ditch the older pair. But that doesn’t fill 6 bags, and it doesn’t address what needs to be cleared out.
My closet and my dresser overflow. I have too many clothes. It should have been easy to fill 6 bags, and I should be able to fill 6 more.
But as I tried to purge- here are some of the issues that came up:
-I spent too much money on that to let it go
-I like owning clothes in that size, even I never wear it
-I want to fit into that again some day
-Maybe I won’t have a tummy in the future- I should wait to see
-This is trendy, and I want to be trendy, even if I haven’t ever worn it
-I still want to be the type of girl who wears stilettos, even if I haven’t in 3 years… I can’t let them go
Yes, I happen to be 5 months pregnant. So perhaps now is a good time to wait and see what I can and will wear in a few months.
But the clothes in question go way back. It’s not pre-pregnancy wardrobe, it’s 2010 items that are difficult to eliminate. The year I got married, and went to the gym 6 days a week… the years I spent in graduate school following the trends of the big city… it’s the years of carrying only a little purse and staying out too late…
Purging my closet means letting go of those chapters, those seasons. It means I no longer carry a small purse: instead, it’s a diaper bag and a 25 pound child. It means I need to wear shoes that balance me as I drag an infant car seat and an antsy toddler. It means I need clothes that honor my experience as a woman who’s stretched to carry two children, who has relaxed into a routine of cooking at home with her husband instead of running around town. It means I need to let go of the relics that remind me of a different time and a different era of this long, beautiful life.
It’s not about the heroic act of donating under-used items. As I turn to my own closet, bags #11-16 in this Lenten purge must be filled with all that I must let go: lingering pride, subtle shame, distant longing, and more…
I filled 6 bags, but I did not finish the work of letting go.
Don’t get me wrong- this chapter of my life is joyful- perhaps the most rewarding and fulfilling chapter yet. I find myself regularly saying to my husband: “these are the happiest moments of my whole life!”
And there will be future chapters that will likely include more tiny purses and nights on the town, more afternoons at the gym instead of the Children’s museum. But I don’t need to store up supplies for those chapters. Instead, in this Lenten season, I am trying to remember to live in the now.
Another week, another 6 bags, and another opportunity to ask the question: what do I need, and what do I need to let go?