“The sheer volume embarrasses me,” I admit to my husband while standing over piles of clothes on my bedroom floor. Coats, shoes, shirts, and pants pulled from my closet on a Saturday like leaves letting go of sturdy branches and falling in a heap. Outside, sun slants through a canopy of changing colors with invitation, but I’m choosing a shift in perspective on the inside.
This is more than a seasonal wardrobe change; we’re moving across the Atlantic without knowing any of the details about income, job placement, or residence.
All we know is that keeping a mountain of “what-if” is no longer an option. Soon we’ll be living in England without walk-in closets, a garage, or an attic. This new reality is redefining needs and wants. The underlined Scripture verse in my Bible “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be” (Matthew 6:21) is no longer a warning to ponder but a conviction that results in repentance.
As I make piles to give away, sell, and keep, I’m blushing, not about the extravagance of riches on hangers but what the excess illustrates. People refer to this move to England as brave, but my closet says I am fearful.
As the wife of a pastor, this is my ninth move in 24 years of marriage; we are experts in lengthy, uncomfortable transition. But our first international move reveals something different than the others.
At the core of my clothing insurance policy is the subtle question “What if Jesus isn’t enough?”
My what-if’s flow into my kitchen cabinets and pantries, underneath my bathroom sink, and into an overflowing garage and attic. In the subtlety of everyday choices, it seems I’ve forgotten Jesus is my sufficiency.
Sufficiency can’t be calculated or planned for, can it? Rather, it’s a conscious decision to trust in Jesus, who loves us with abandon and provides for his children relentlessly, even in the midst of uncertainty.
Numbers of shoes, a full pantry, and the balance in my checking account create a false sense of security and a slanted view of identity.
As we transition from a sprawling four-bedroom house toward minimalism, I’m asking myself some important questions with fresh conviction about my answers.
Is it valuable or easily forgotten?
The value of keepsakes is subjective, just as in our relationships. Cards, children’s artwork, old photographs—most conjure fond memories, markers of calling or remembrance of God’s faithfulness while holding little monetary value.
We whittled three dozen attic boxes of toys my teens insisted we keep when they were children down to a couple boxes. At the same time, we will stay intimately connected with those people with whom there is significant relational capital from joint investment, thankful for the extravagance of riches in priceless friendships.
Most of our hesitancy in de-cluttering stems from the fear of what might happen afterward. God is our sufficiency in all seasons, with our treasures, memories, and relationships.
Does it hold significance or am I keeping it because of scarcity?
Two trash bags hold shoes I haven’t worn for more than two seasons. Pink heels matching one dress I haven’t worn since that wedding and the boots I can’t walk in for more than two blocks. Even if I only wore them once because of the pain they inflicted, it’s time to take them to consignment.
Perhaps we could fill some plastic bags with excuses about why we’re hanging onto unhealthy relationships. Are you in a job, volunteer position, prayer group, social circle, or partnership because you fear what might happen if you’re not? Letting go and trusting God with reputation, love, and influence can make room for new life in areas that are stagnant, not only for us but for others.
Am I holding onto this because I fear I’m not extraordinary?
If a garment looks horrible on my figure despite being trendy and fashionable, why should I hold onto it?
In the same way, our worth isn’t measured by public opinion, numbers, platform, or recognition by significant people. If Jesus says we are worth dying for, shouldn’t this be enough?
Being hidden and unnoticed is the way Jesus modeled extraordinary. He performed miracles and then asked people not to tell anyone.
What are the things, who are the people, and where are the places that enhance the way God made you?
Jesus shows us how ordinary doesn’t mean less valuable.
The back of my van is now full of boxes loaded with sweaters, shoes, stacks of picture frames, and glasses ready for charity and consignment. Whitespace in my closet illustrates heart preparation for what awaits on another continent. Jesus is enough and scarcity is in my rear view mirror. Colorful leaves my wheels crunch over on the driveway are reminders that spring is coming.
What is keeping you from letting go? How can you take one practical step toward trusting God with uncertainty?
Shelly Miller is a writer, photographer, clergy wife, mother of two teens, and leadership coach. She enjoys writing stories that make people think differently about life, helping women discover their calling, and the luxury of being inspired by other cultures. You can read more of her stories on her blog, Redemption’s Beauty, connect on Facebook and Twitter, and join the Sabbath Society.