If you know me well, you will know that over the last couple of months I have been hating every single second of the horror that is packing. Not only did the distance make things more difficult (especially as only Bear drives), but the sheer amount of stuff became a real annoyance for me. I have for most of my life been walking in a balancing act on a rather thin line between hoarding and yearning for minimalism. Whereas I don’t like houses where the whiteness bleaches any personality from a place, I do appreciate clean lines, a lack of clutter, and a few artistic beautiful pieces instead of many. Being a student it was always the aim to go with only what you could carry, and to leave with hopefully not much more. Of course the aim rarely came to fruition, and as many students will tell you stuff bred beneath my bed whilst I slept and I would normally end up requesting my Dad’s help and car to transport me home each summer.
Getting married only increased the issue. Moving one persons stuff into a 2 bedroom flat = fine. Moving two persons stuff (when sharing one room) = not bad. Adding wedding gifts, extras, and accumulated add-ons from the in-laws = hell, particularly when attempting to move halfway down the UK.
There were a number of times I broke down and simply wanted to run away. There were other times I sincerely suggested donating everything and just assuming we could probably cope without – after all we had survived in Birmingham for a month. What could be so vital? What I really wanted was to be able to pick myself and Bear up and disappear on a moments notice, to be able to travel without worrying that stuff would get burgled (which I’ve actually prayed for a number of times in the last few weeks), to be able to fit our lives in a car and move without the stress, the panic or the mountain of cardboard.
This is still an aim of mine and one I’m actually practically trying to deal with over the next week with our remaining stuff (some got left by bins for whoever might want it – which physically hurt my eco-conscious-heart). But alongside my pines for freedom, my ache for space, and my willingness to give it all up to anyone who might want it, came a realisation that our spiritual and emotional burdens can feel much the same.
When we drag something out, when we refuse to forgive (or, try but find it very difficult for one reason or another), we are not pulling others down, only ourselves. In my personal experience dislike, hate (for lack of a better word) and all the anger, etc that comes with it, takes so much effort and so much time that we can feel exhausted by the whole thing. When it’s just you it can mess up relationships (even those completely separate from the person or situation), it can stress you out and cause you to lose focus on things you do really care about. With every grudge and bad feeling you hang onto, unable or unwilling to let go of, there is another stone upon your back, pulling you down.
This, like my mountain of stuff, can seem like just a collection of little things, things that shouldn’t be important, don’t even need forgiving because they shouldn’t matter. I’ve said this to myself many times before. The truth is that little things add up, weigh on you and eventually get the better of you resulting in breakdowns, stress and in my case panic attacks. The best thing to do is let them all go, because if you were better before you had it, you can be better after.
Forgiveness is hard. I’m not about to lie and say that with one easy saying/action/thought it all just disappears. It’s hard because it hurts. It might hurt because of the pain someone caused you, it might be because someone hurt someone you love very much, it might be because you believe you deserved better. The truth is you do deserve better, which is why you need to let go. Unforgiveness doesn’t often hurt the culprit of it, it hurts the one who was originally hurt, just more so. Like my stuff, forgiveness and letting go will take a little bit of effort, to go through stuff bit by bit and release it. God has been asking us to do this time and time again since the beginning of time, so there must be a reason for it.
The wonderful bit is that the more you let go of it all the more energy you’ll have, the more space for stuff you love, the more belief in yourself, and the more faith in people. All this helps us to build, not destroy, relationships. By letting go, you actually let go of the hard and painful areas of yourself which have clung on, and allow yourself to grow instead.
It might seem like you are letting someone off scot free, but whoever they are, whatever they did, they are not worth the pain you carry around with you. It is worth it in the end to let go of ones burdens, and let our God carry them for us. You don’t even need to tell them that you’ve forgiven them, this isn’t about lording it over them in a “I’ve forgiven you for being that awful horrible cruel person you are” way – in truth, have you really forgiven them in that sentence? By letting go you’re releasing yourself as well as them to live life.
For me, I was conflicted, stuck between the pain I was feeling and the guilt I felt for being so angry. Ultimately, I was stuck in my own cage and once I started letting go I could move on. What has already happened in the past cannot be undone, but we can move away from it. How about joining me on that journey? It’s a long one but as you shed your burdens as you go, the journey always gets easier.
P.S. For those of you really interested in a minimalist/eco/zero waste lifestyle I would highly recommend The Zero Waste Home blog which talks about how to refuse, reduce, reuse and at a last resort: recycle. It is inspiring and although I might not ever get that far it’s a great resource. Check it out!