What to Keep, What to Not Keep

The process of decluttering is still surprisingly easy. Still, bags are leaving my house each day. I’m getting to know the man at the thrift store who takes in donations pretty well. Yesterday we chatted about the weather as I unloaded boxes of books, games, clothes, toys, etc. As I released into his care the theological tomes of pastors before me that were “gifted” unto me, the glass bowls that generations of other women in my family served potatoes or a nice jello salad, the countless random decorations I don’t ever look at but still take up space and collect dust, I felt nothing but glad and ready to go home and fill up more boxes.

When in the process of purging I come across something that makes me pause heavily, even if it is something I will likely never use again, like my simple wedding dress, or some particularly beloved item my children made for me, I set it down and let it be. There still has to be some room for keeping, for the sentimental.

But not much. The end goal is to store most all photographs and papers digitally, only one box of keepsakes will be kept. One small shelf of favorite books. My wardrobe pared down to the essentials. Any decorations or furniture will be carefully thought out and kept at an extreme minimum.

I have a long way to go, but I already notice space is opening up in our house. It’s already becoming easier to find things and to keep things clean without so much to move around and go through.

For a while, I needed to hold on to so much that belonged to my family members who died and passed it down to me, but that need is now gone. I’m releasing so much of what I have been holding on tightly for the last many years, both emotionally and materially. Bless it and let it go. Give thanks and release.

No wonder I’m feeling lighter every day.

Published by Ruth E. Hetland

Ruth E. Hetland is the pastor of Saint Peter's Lutheran Church of Audubon, Minnesota. She is a mom, wife, skeptic, and Alt for Norge (Norwegian reality show) participant. She has served as a pastor in three other congregations prior to Saint Peter's: Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church of South Newstead in Akron, New York, First Lutheran Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Our Savior's Lutheran Church at Norse of Clifton, Texas. She has been published in The Lutheran magazine, Christ in Our Home, the Word in Season, the Upper Room, Sundays and Seasons, and several other worship resources. Her most recent book is "Writing With a View of the Graveyard: Loss, Life, and Unruly Grace;" (2018). This devotional with photographs of rural churches is available in black and white on Amazon and in full-color by contacting Ruth at ruthehetland@gmail.com; Ruth's first book, a preaching resource, "The Power of Place and Story in Preaching," was published in 2012 and is available on Amazon. Ruth can be contacted at ruthehetland@gmail.com.

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