I have never felt more liberated in my entire life.
As you may know, my mother visited me in NYC last weekend.
And it was amazing.
But…not for reasons you may think.
It was not because we went ice skating at Rockefeller Center under the gorgeous Christmas tree. Nor because we got hot cocoa and strolled through Central Park amid a gentle snowfall. Nope. We didn’t gaze upon the Christmas window displays at Macy’s, or see the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall…all things that, I had planned to do, but never actually happened during our Christmas girls’ weekend extravaganza.
What did we do last weekend?
We cleaned out my closets.
That’s right. While Christmas was on full display in the greatest city in the world, my mother and I spent the entire weekend in two 8 foot x 3 foot walk in closets.
My mom took one step in my apartment, looked at my looked at my closets and said, “We’re tackling this.”
Now let me be sparkling, crystal clear about one thing. My apartment is in no way, shape, or form messy, or cluttered, or disheveled. I run a tight ship, and if you were to walk in my apartment unannounced, it would be immaculate.
My closets however, are a bit of a different story…because they are out of sight…only I can see what’s behind those doors. ((And let’s not play armchair psychologist and dive too deep into what that means, k thanks.))
But my closets were a bit…full, shall we say.
I am not a hoarder, but when it comes to clothes, I really hate throwing away clothes. Mainly because A) many have sentimental value/emotional memories attached to them. B) I take really good care of them, so they are still nice and look like new. And C) I haven’t changed size since high school so they still fit (minus the season of anorexia – and I got rid of all those clothes AGES ago — *read why that is important for recovery*).
So anyway…I had a lot of clothes.
Couple that with the pandemic, where I had to order everything from toilet paper to shaving cream on Amazon…all of which came in bulk…so I had a closet jam packed with a year’s supply of paper products, and really nice clothes dating back to 2006.
I wish I would have taken a proper “before” picture, but frankly, I was too ashamed. But here’s a little glimpse of what they looked like…you couldn’t see the floor.
Well…my mother and I cleaned those bad boys out! I threw away/donated literally 35+ garbage bags full of just crap that was in my closets.
My mom and I — aside from a couple nice dinners out, and a brunch with Steven and his beautiful mother — spent the entire time either in my closets, or at The Container Store.
We ran back and forth to the garbage disposal room on my floor so many times, we literally got a noise complaint from my neighbor!
But this is where I need to just pause and express how lucky I am to have this amazing woman as my mom. A woman who is so selfless as to spend an entire vacation, giving up all the holiday hustle bustle and glamor of Christmas in New York City, to help her daughter clear out her cluttered closets.
She is truly an unbelievable woman. And I am so grateful for all her help.
And you know what, it was actually an empowering experience!
It was so freeing to just throw crap away. Clear it out! Get rid of it!
I realized that I had been holding onto a lot of things because I was living from a scarcity mindset, thinking: Gosh, I’d better save this because who knows if I’ll ever get another one. I am a very frugal person, but the fact of the matter is, scarcity living does not invite abundance into your life.
If we’re clenching our fists around things of the past, either out of fear or another unhealthy attachment, it prevents us from living with hands open to receiving what God has to give us.
The other thing I learned, is that you’ve got to be in a mood to throw things from the past away. You know what I mean?
For example: I had saved all the Broadway playbills from from shows my mom and I saw together in the ten years that I’ve lived in NYC. Now – today, living in a place of fullness, where I feel fulfilled, full of joy and truly feeling life in abundance, I don’t need to hold onto those tokens of wistful memories. Yes, they were good times, but there are good times happening now, and I don’t need to dwell on the past. I need to clear out so that new goodness can come in!
Finally, in clearing out my things, I came across this handmade, laminated scripture flip book that my mom had made me when I left for inpatient treatment for my anorexia back in 2007. On one side, she wrote a scripture verse, and on the back, she wrote in her own words, the practical application for that verse — in words that a teenager would understand.
And I picked it up, and it was open to this verse: Jeremiah 29:11 “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”
And on the back, my mother wrote, “God wants us to let go of our past and grab on to the plan and promises for your future, for it is a glorious one!”
Leave it to my mom to know exactly what to say. I just imagine her writing that, during that time in 2007 when she was terrified for my life, clinging to Jesus that I would make it through alive, praying for the words I needed to hear. She has always been – and continues to be – the most thoughtful woman: loving, steadfast, faithful, kind, patient, joyful — I sat there and read through all of those little verses and notes that she wrote to me, from probably the lowest point in both our lives.
Her strength is abounding.
But what a timely message for me to hear today, in 2021…Trusting in God’s plan and promises of a hopeful future.
I definitely have days where I struggle with wondering what God is doing with my life, because it sure as heck looks a lot different than what I thought it would be when I was 16 and dreaming. I mean, I thought I’d be married with three kids, a dog and a picket fence by now!
But God’s timing is not our timing. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that His timing truly is perfect, because all the while, He is doing interior work on our hearts and spirits, so that we are ready and able to receive the blessings that He is so excited to pour out upon us. But the process of getting to that point is a lot longer and more difficult than what we think.
My mom – in her wisdom – touches on one minuscule detail, that upon first glance, is looked over: “grab on.”
GRAB ON to the plans and promises for your future.
That is not a passive state of being. Grabbing onto something is proactive. It’s productive. It’s helping move things along.
It’s showing a willingness, an openness, a readiness. We let go of the past, and only then, when our hands are free, do we have the ability to grab on to God’s promises for a good and abundant future.
What a thing to read, not only now as someone who feels like they’re waiting for those plans to come into focus, but also for a girl who is cleaning out her closets, and literally letting go of things of the past in a very physical, tangible manner.
So anyway. That was our weekend.
Though it was spent cleaning and organizing, it was truly an amazing time. We had some powerful and illuminating conversations until 1:00am every night, and she truly blessed me with — not only her organizational prowess — but also her patience, her love, her charity and her selflessness as my mother and friend. So, thank you, mom. I love you.
And also – maybe this will be just the inspiration you need, to tackle that cleaning job you’ve been putting off, like I had.
“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5
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