on giving away – and letting go

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.


5 Replies to “on giving away – and letting go”

  1. Wow, I love the honesty! Is it very gloomy that I try to keep on top of clutter all the time on the grounds that it’ll be easier for our son to sort out our possessions when we die?! Yeah, I’m boring! X

  2. No, you’re not boring – just very sensible!! And you’re great at not attaching your identity onto lots and lots of bits that you own. I do think clutter builds up the more space you have…I feel like I’m regularly clearing out and giving away, but there are some cupboards/drawers which rarely got touched, so this challenge was a good motivator to sort out those unseen areas. Sadly our house looks little changed from before the challenge, though – we still have far too much!

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