Because Hubby and I can’t seem to leave well enough alone, we decided to tackle a home remodel project a few summers ago. Which doesn’t sound too crazy right? I mean, it was summer, lots of normal people paint stuff, clean out closets, etc. Of course, we can’t just be normal so we decided to rip out our driveway and garage. It was 155 degrees outside and I’m covered in sweat and mouse poop, battling freakishly large spiders (one actually crawled up onto my shoulder and yes, I lost it) and 4 children who have no regard for their life or my sanity. I documented with videos so that way if we ever feel compelled to do any sort of a remodel to our personal home again, we can watch them and laugh and laugh. Here’s the first one when I was feeling especially optimistic. I’ll save you the pain of watching the others of me veering off the rails and into despair.
It’s amazing how a project can sound so good in conversation, look so easy on paper, yet somehow, you find yourselves in the depths of hell in the middle of the reality of it all. Maybe I’m being a little over-dramatic. In retrospect it was more like the foyer of hell. Anyhoo, the first day or so found me in denial. “This will be so easy! We’ll just go through the boxes, extract all of those precious items and memories, throw out the trash, etc!” The evening of day 3 found me standing in the door of the garage, filthy from crawling over the maze of cardboard, and crying uncontrollably over the fact that it appeared the boxes were reproducing like rabbits every night. On top of it all, my nerves couldn’t handle one more spider episode. “Burn it all!” I sobbed-laughed, dancing around the garage with a gas can in one hand and a log lighter in the other with no concern for potential precious memories and keepsakes.
Why did we have some much stuff? Where did it come from? How did they get that ship in the bottle? Life’s burning questions. “I am not a hoarder, I am not a hoarder,” I repeated to myself under my breath, over and over while throwing high school notebooks full of tragic poetry, old corsages from bad proms, and empty bottles of aquanet into large black trashbags.
I despise clutter, yet here I was surrounded with it. Boxes filled with memories of high school (which I hated), tubs with my late brothers (who’s been gone for almost 50 years now) keepsakes, my old baby clothes, yellowed with age. Why? Did I really think I was going to reenact a baby baptism?
I threw bags of trash away, took boxes of items to Goodwill, started a burn pile big enough to make forest rangers around the world nervous. And with every trip I strengthened my resolve to at least read up on the minimalist life style, even if I didn’t put it into action.
With every bag and box however, I started thinking about all of the other things I’ve allowed to take up space in my heart, not just in my garage, and now desperately needed a good purging. Things like certain relationships that were only meant for one season and promptly needed to be boxed up and moved out. Negative patterns of thinking that must be taken outside and aired out, maybe left out there so that the sun could bleach out the stains of cynicism. I thought about old perceptions and belief systems that I’ve outgrown and should be bagged up and tossed in the dumpster. Or what about all those unhealed wounds that God has asked me to release to Him but I’ve held onto for so long they’re covered in dust and just taking up precious space? I continued poking around in the dark corners of my heart and saw all of the anxiety and fear that has long needed to be thrown into the burn pile and replaced with the faith and confidence of who I am in Jesus.
I discovered more than freakishly large spiders in my garage. In fact, I discovered that we’re all hoarders of some type or another. Our junk just may not be as visible to others as the junk in my garage. But it’s still there, taking up precious space. Space that is better suited for joy, healthy relationships, and faith. To reclaim that space requires discipline and commitment. It requires a daily talk with Jesus and a daily trip to the burn pile.
I’m happy to say we finished that remodel and now have a space that’s filled with laughter and love with only a few spiders. Thankfully, most of the junk is gone out of what used to be the garage.
Just don’t open any of the closets in my house.