It’s been 8 1/2 years since I became a mom. Three precious babies later, I’ve found my footing as a mom (at least as much as one can in the slippery, ever-changing sand that is parenthood) except for one area.
I’m a hoarder of all things baby related. It’s true. I said it. For 8 1/2 years I’ve saved every outfit, every pair of socks, every toy, even bottles. I have it all.
It made sense to hold on to things after baby #1 – we figured there would be a baby #2. When our second son was born, we were stocked on all the boy clothes and baby stuff we needed. Of course that didn’t stop us from buying new stuff too.
At that point we debated getting rid of everything, but I had a feeling we weren’t done just yet, so I convinced my husband we’d hold on to everything just a little longer. Naturally, when baby #3 was another boy, we were set. Until of course, we realized he was born in the dead of winter, while our other two had been summer babies, making pretty much all our baby clothes the wrong season.
And that is what has led to me to my current state.
What you see here is 3 kids worth of clothing (only up to size 18 months – I know it’s crazy). It’s literally lining my hallway and staircase, because the time has come to finally let it go. But I can’t. For months I’ve walked past all this stuff, never having the heart to actually sit down and begin the laborious, and heartbreaking, process of sorting and donating items. Making the move to rid our house of baby stuff also means acknowledging that the “baby” stage is coming to an swift end.
I’ve thought about this a lot over the last several months. Mostly because I have walked past the piles for that long [terrible I know], but also because I knew I couldn’t tackle this mountain without first dealing with the root problem…FEAR.
Say what?! I know, fear probably isn’t the first place your mind went either. Yet, it’s fear at the center of what’s held me back from letting go.
- Fear of admitting the baby days are behind us, even though my husband and I agree 3 lively boys is enough.
- Fear of an unexpected event that leads us to needing all this gear again and not having it or being able to replace it – God does some crazy things after all.
- Fear that I’m missing out on my last shot for a daughter.
- Fear of knowing that my kids are actually growing up and getting closer and closer to needing me less.
Yes, a lot of fear. Masked as a lot of different things.
Maybe you resonate with my struggle. Or maybe it looks like a house overloaded with stuff “just in case.” It might be a friendship or relationship that you just can’t move on from. Maybe it’s a job that’s draining the life from you. My guess is, if you think about it, there’s probably something you’re holding on too tightly to and just can’t handle letting it go.
So what do we do? How do we face our fears? Truthfully, I’m no expert on the topic. Search Amazon for “overcoming fear” and you’ll get over 2,000 options. There’s lots out there. But because I barely have time to read full books, and I need some quickly digested truths, let me share with you my messy thought process that has helped bring me peace.
God calls us all to lay down our fear. In fact, the phrase or some variation of “fear not” appears throughout the Bible and is represented in almost every book. Now, if I’ve only learned one thing when it comes to studying the Bible, it’s that if something is repeated, its probably important. The fact that almost every author throughout the Bible makes mention of not fearing surely has to mean something. My mind logically understands this – I shouldn’t fear because I trust God. My heart…well that’s another story. Jeremiah 17:9 in the NIV says,
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
That’s pretty much spot on. Our hearts often over-power even the most logical believer, convincing us that what we feel must be truth. It’s a sobering reality to know that your heart can be the most deceitful thing about you. The very thing that also keeps you alive day in and day out. Yet, it’s when we allow fear to take hold of our hearts, that we miss the opportunity for God to do the real work. The true work that needs to happen to draw us closer to Him. To combat our hearts, we need to prepare our minds for battle. I’m terrible with committing verses to memory, but writing out verses help me remember them better. So if you need a battle plan – why not start with this great list of 145 verses on fear. Spend some time writing each one out and praying for God to lessen the fear in your own heart.
But what about my specific fears, well as I read through many of the verses on fear along with the Christmas story, I couldn’t help think of Mary. The unwed, unprepared, teenage mother of Jesus. The fear she must of have felt makes my fears seem downright precious.
Kids leave us full of worry and fear. But if I proclaim that I fully trust God as my Lord and Savior, then I have to turn over my worry and fears about my kids. That means my worries about what I’m missing, what might happen, and what I will become when they no longer need me all the time, must be left at the foot of the cross. An intentional action I have to do everyday, multiple times a time day. It’s a gut check for me that when I find myself spinning down a rabbit hole of worry, I’m allowing the enemy to draw me further from the truth.
So what about the stuff? All the stuff that’s taking over my hallways? How to do I let go?
In truth, really really slowly. If you’re one of those people with the ability to clear the junk, know that I wish I had even an ounce of your mindset. I don’t though. And at times it drives me insane. The fact that every item possesses a heap of memories that weigh on my heart, makes it all that more difficult. It’s not just a shirt – it’s a shirt that all 3 boys worn to the pumpkin patch their first Halloween. PJ’s aren’t just cotton sets, they are tangible reminders of the many nights spend nursing babes as they drifted off to sleep. Letting go feels like I’m giving up those memories (again logically I know better, but my heart tells me differently). Letting go also means those items won’t be around any more to look at, to touch, to use if needed.
When I look to the cross though, I have to ask to ask myself if I truly believe God’s promises while I’m holding on to mounds of things.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
If I truly believe, I have to trust that whatever God brings to me, He will also bring “the stuff” I need. By holding on ‘just in case’, what I’m really saying is that I don’t fully trust God will provide. A statement that I can’t accept. A statement that hopefully you can’t accept either. We say want to believe fully. We say want to trust completely. Doing so though, means our actions must fall in line. Mine haven’t always, and when I reflect on my “hanging on” ways, I find that I’m no better off than the young, rich man who couldn’t let go of his wealth and turned his back on Jesus in Matthew 19.
Little by little I’m shedding my fear of letting go to honor my faith in God. Won’t you join me in laying down whatever you’ve been afraid to let go, and walk forward in faith that the Lord will be there to guide you, provide for you, and meet you exactly where you are?