Dare 19: Time to Get My House in Order

The Unbroken Woman blog is hosting The Respect Dare. Starting July 10, participants will be using Nina Roesner’s The Respect Dare: 40 Days to a Deeper Connection with God and Your Husband as a guide, posting about their journey. And I will be doing it with you!

I have too much stuff. I’ve seen a few episode of Hoarders and have come away feeling like a decent enough housekeeper—but when I listen to the hoarders talk about their possessions, I squirm because I can relate to those feelings just a bit.

Some of my stuff is from good intentions that have not yet been fulfilled. Unfinished cross-stitch projects. Knitting that is still on the needles. Genealogy research. I am the queen of unfinished projects. I love the process of learning new things and figuring out how to make everything work. Once I figure out what I’m doing, though, my goal has been accomplished and finishing the project feels more like work than joy. I’ve learned that quick projects are perfect. My enthusiasm lasts until the last stitch is done. At one time, I had fifty knit dishcloths.

Then there’s the stuff I can’t get rid of because I’m afraid I’ll need it for something as soon as I get rid of it. Plastic containers from Chinese delivery. Gallon ice cream buckets. Even chipped coffee mugs. And even more stuff is a result of indecision or procrastination. Bills we couldn’t afford to pay. Clothes I no longer love. A new item that I simply can’t figure out where it belongs.

All my stuff gets in the way of having space to truly live, being able to move through my home with ease, having a home that serves as a sanctuary, being willing to invite people in. A backdrop of stuff make it feel pointless to do any decorating. Why add a new coat of paint when the color will just be overwhelmed by three tubs of yarn. Cleaned surfaces become clutter collectors, so why even bother to clean them? The stuff drives so much else in my house.

Sometimes I go through and try to organize and reduce my stuff. When I face my unfilled intentions, my memories, the things that represent the indecision or poor decisions of the past, I get stuck in a cycle of emotions. And then the purging process gets frozen in a half-finished state, adding to the burden of trying to clean the next time. It becomes a mountain, and I just don’t know how to break it down into molehills.

As I look around and think about how hard it is to start cleaning house when I am so attached to my past, I see just as clearly that the same thing happens with the stuff of my heart. I drag my sin around with me all the time. Just like with the physical stuff, the heart stuff is a problem. Some of it comes from good intentions, things I’ve tried where I’ve made mistakes or not finished working through an issue. Problems I’ve put off dealing with. Things I haven’t made a decision about. Stuff that is such a mountain that I don’t know where to start.

Like my physical stuff, my heart stuff gets in the way of living. It keeps me from fully inviting people in. It interferes with building and maintaining relationships. It has affected my marriage. Sometimes, it feels like I just can’t move.

It’s hard for me to let go. I’ve always seen my heart stuff as defining who I am. The sins of my past led to transformation. I altered how I viewed myself and others. Sins led to suffering—but also to growth and learning. If I let go of my stuff, I let go of all I’ve become.  Letting go releases me from the context of my learning—and then I lose the roots of my growth.

I need to work to connect my growth and learning to God instead of my past, establishing new threads and weaving it all in with God’s love for me. Once those threads are interwoven and strong, I will slowly be able to loosen the ones that anchor me to the past and my old sins.

Dare 19 tells us to take some specific steps toward being more organized and orderly in how we live.

I definitely need to get my house in order. I need to let go of the stuff that’s weighing me down.

Read these other bloggers to learn about their experiences with the Respect Dare:

Unbroken Woman

My Beloved Is Mine!

Broken But Not Forgotten


The Respect Dare Blog (author Nina Roesner)

Edited the next day: After writing this, my daughter has decided–on her own–to clean out two of our cabinets–one with all our coffee and tea items and and one that houses our spices. Tomorrow, she says, she will tackle the pantry. No one but us will ever see what it behind the cabinet doors, but knowing that all is in order is a blessing to me. 

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5 Comments on “Dare 19: Time to Get My House in Order”

  1. Okay. We are identical twins :). I’m the same way with loving to learn but then leaving the project unfinished because the learning was enough. And my house? It’s mostly a paper problem but same issues. It paralyzes all other forward progress in the house! And yep, my heart is the same way. With old clutter. I whittle down the piles in my house (and my heart )from time to time (I’m in purge mode right now) but there are always those things I can’t let go of. Like the receipt from the birthday-eve dinner where my husband told me he was done with our marriage. Three years later we are not only “fixed “and flourishing, but I’m a marriage speaker! So why do I keep that? I even made a copy of it this last time because the ink was fading on the receipt! Every time I see it, it hurts less and less. I ALMOST threw it away this time (just yesterday!). But I didn’t. I don’t know if it’s because I want to remember the pain or see the progress. Either way, it’s still clutter I hold on to. And your words are food for thought.

    Thanks for your honest posts..

    1. Oh, dear! i admit to relief in knowing I am not alone in this. Paper is a big problem here, too, but at the moment, I can’t even get to paper because of my yarn. And the super-sized pack of toilet paper. And the garage bag that either ha garbage or clothes to donate to Goodwill. (Can you tell I’m staring at these things right this minute?)

      You know, maybe you could rame the receipt, surrounded by a collage of pictures from where your life has headed since then. If you’re going to keep it, you might as well celebrate it.

      1. Totally agree. Same thing here too. Lots of stuff, hard to know what’s really needed, and what can be tossed. Fun projects get started but not finished. What makes it worse is that my mother is really good at being organized, and so the house I grew up in was almost always completely uncluttered. (It’s so nice to visit her.) Living in my own house is so different, and between my stuff and my husband’s, sometimes it feels kind of hard to move around. Like you, there’s no comparison to actual hoarders, but it’s still a contrast to the way I grew up and feel most comfortable. But my husband doesn’t seem to mind because he grew up in a tiny condo and his parents are collectors (not hoarders – they just have a ton of books and stuff), so their house has way more stuff than ours.

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