Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Great Lenten Give Away

I'm not one for Lenten discipline.  

It always seems to turn into being all about "ME" and what I've given up, or how I'm going to be more healthy or be a better Christian.  Whatever ME ME ME.  Kind of not what Lent is supposed to be about I think.

But an idea on Facebook captured my attention.  Forty Days, give away 40 items of "stuff".  I'd been thinking I need to get rid of more stuff before I move.  

I think it would be good to do this in a deliberate, prayerful and reflective way.  It will be a lot about me.  That's okay because it can be just as problematical avoiding thinking about yourself.  Sometimes it needs to me about me.

I've already decided I'm not going to just give away 40 things.  Because I have more than 40 things I don't need.  I'm going to do it thematically, and do some de-cluttering every day.  Except for Sunday.  And if I just can't.  

Because I'm much more into grace than discipline. 

Hanging on to stuff is an issue for me.  I attach sentimental value to things.  I like to collect things.  I like to think someday I'm going to use things I haven't used for years.  

When I watched the TV show Hoarders I saw seriously disturbed people living in horrendous conditions use some of the very same excuses for not getting rid of stuff that I have used.  That is scary stuff.

I first became convicted of this when I moved by myself in 2005.  I had an attic.  I had so much stuff I hadn't used or worn in five years.  Good stuff. Stuff other people could have used.  I realized how selfish it was to keep in the attic.  Downright sinful in fact.   

I got better but it's still a struggle.  So this is not just about cleaning house, it's a spiritual task as well. (I would have said "journey" but all the folk on the clergy Facebook page are making fun of people who use "journey" in Lent talk)

My bedroom closet
So today I started with clothes.  

I like clothes.  

I have a lot of clothes. I don't feel bad about liking and having nice clothes.  I do feel bad that I have perfectly nice clothes other people could wear hanging in the closet unworn. 

another closet just for jackets
So I went through the closets (yes plural) pretty ruthlessly.  I've done this before so I know the drill.  If it doesn't fit right or I haven't worn it in a year, it needs to go.  

There were these two jackets my Mom made for me when I was in my 20s that break both those rules.  They've escaped every other purge.  Not today.  

I think I used to keep them because they were supposed to prove my mom cared about me.  They just proved my mom liked to sew. 

 They are old but still look good and someone else will enjoy them.  They are not doing any good in my closet.  

At least I don't do the "Sometime I'll lose weight and it will fit" I used to do.  I've long gotten rid of clothes too small and I haven't gained weight in several years.  But why would I want to keep clothes that remind me I've gained weight?  And if I do lose weight, of course, I'll want to buy new clothes!  

I do have some clothes that I didn't realize till I got home that they didn't really fit right.  I thought it was frugal to wear them anyway.  

No.  It's not good to wear ill-fitting clothes for any reason.  

Out they went.

Tomorrow I'll go through the linen closet.  I actually need new sheets.  I keep using old ones that don't fit the mattress and slide off.  I have lots of old comforters that are stained with cat puke and wine.  I think I will give those to an animal rescue.  

Other items to go through, Christmas decorations I never take out, books, kitchen items that I haven't unpacked in a year so why do I need them?  

Sewing equipment, probably all my counted cross stitch yarn, my eyes aren't good enough for that anymore.  

I will have to go through my shoes but that's going to be hard.  I do wear all my shoes.  But I have a lot of them.  I'm going to need to build up some spiritual strength before tackling that.

What do you have in your closet you haven't used in years that someone else would use?


  1. This is an interesting idea. I don't get into the lent stuff for the reasons you mentioned at the beginning. I usually try to take something on that will be a reflective practice or helpful to someone.

    I didn't pick anything this year. I have moved so much that purging items from the house is second nature to me, so I can't really join you, but I like that you have spurred some creative thinking. One suggestion. After Lent is done, consider keeping a donation box. I have a box that every time I decide clothing or other items need to go, I put them in the box and when it's full it goes off to Goodwill or similar. Having growing little kids, my box fills up fast sometimes, but I like the reminder of the box. It reminds me that stuff is just stuff and doesn't provide any security.

  2. When the kids were little before their birthdays and Christmas we would give them a bag and tell them they had to fill it with toys they didn't play with so other kids could play with it. They were always really good at filling it.