The 50/50 Challenge
Okay, this post is a little long…but bear with me, because at the end, there’s a challenge, and I’m inviting you to join me. I think it will improve the quality of our lives.
Ever since I wrote “Do You Have Room?” I’ve tried to make more room for Christ in my life – not just during Christmas, but every day. If you’ve been on my site before, you may know that we had an extraordinary experience at Christmastime over 20 years ago that changed our lives and led me to write the song. But that’s a story to repeat on another day.
Today I want to talk about making room by having less.
But first, flash back to a year ago. I began 2016 by uncluttering our home. I threw away or donated about 85 garbage bags full of small stuff and more than a dozen carloads of big stuff. It felt great to get rid of it.
But now, at the beginning of 2017, I’m uncluttering again.
Because after I got rid of all that stuff, I went and bought new stuff! Really?!?!
I didn’t think I’d purchased a lot this year, but just to be sure, I walked around the house this morning and did a really quick, informal count - of things I bought in 2016 that weren’t food or other necessities.
204 things we didn’t need.
204 things that kept me from doing what I really wanted to do.
Because all this stuff came at a price. And I’m not just talking about money. First, I had to find it. Then buy it. Bring it home. Store it. Clean it. Organize it. Move it. Fix it. Re-clean it. Re-organize it. Then, when stuff doesn't work any more, or I'm just tired of it, I replace it -- with new stuff that has to be found, bought, stored, cleaned, organized, fixed, and eventually…replaced.
For every hour I spent dealing with stuff, I had an hour less to spend doing what I really want to do.
Not surprisingly, none of the following things were on my New Year's Resolutions list:
Own more stuff.
Waste more money.
Spend more time and energy on things that don’t matter.
And yet, at the end of the year, I was ashamed to realize that these were things I actually accomplished -- at the expense of what I REALLY wanted to accomplish.
I love these words by the poet William Wordsworth:
“The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers…
For this, for everything, we are out of tune…”
In the process of accumulating stuff, we end up using ‘our powers’ to take care of our stuff instead of taking care of the people around us. We are so ‘in tune’ with our stuff that we may fail to be in tune with the Spirit. The world is so much with us that it may take us away from the things of God.
And I don’t want to do it any more. I don’t want to re-organize my garage or my office 3 or 4 different times this year. In fact, I don’t even want to do it once. I don’t want to spend hours in stores or online looking for just the right thing. I don’t want to spend even one minute trying to find places for my ever-growing pile of stuff. I am up to here with stuff!
In 2017, THIS is what I want:
I want to spend more time writing music, playing with my grandchildren, helping other people, and becoming a better disciple of Jesus Christ.
So, in that spirit, I’m issuing a challenge to myself. The 50/50 challenge.
I’m going to get rid of 50% of our stuff in 50 days.
And this is why I think it will help: my problem isn't that I need to be more organized. (As Courtney Carver put it, “If organizing your stuff worked, wouldn’t you be done by now?”) I think my problem is I just have too much stuff.
And I believe that stuff (and the accumulation of more stuff, and all the stuff shuffling I do, and the other associated demands that stuff puts on my time and resources) keeps me from focusing on the things that matter. And I’m hoping that intentionally getting rid of at least half my stuff will allow me to focus more on what I REALLY want.
Joshua Becker, author of “The More of Less,” describes the process of decluttering this way: “...the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from them.”
Okay, so it begins. 50% in 50 days.
Comment if you want to join me. Or on what your motivation is. Or if you have any good ideas for de-cluttering. Or if you think I’m crazy.
Making Room by Having Less: 3 Simple Steps