There is a great burst of energy in our culture every January 1st around the idea of starting something new. Oprah chirps in those Weight Watchers commercial that we can eat TACOS, and the Nicorette folks promise that their nicotine gum will help us break the cigarette habit once and for all.
Well, we’re now deep into January, and most of that energy for starting new things dissipates about now. I’d like to suggest some of us may be due for a little reverse-engineering on those resolutions. Perhaps instead of starting something new, we can use some of our winter hibernating time to consider dumping something old. A lot of us have old stuff, unhealthy relationships, or burdensome commitments that could use a little reassessment. Now that the cultural pressure of the holidays is over and we’re all settling in to the long march through winter, why not consider bringing something in your life to a logical conclusion?
Endings make space for new beginnings. As many of you may be considering how you might participate in Lent (which begins 2/14 this year), maybe one of these ideas to put something to an end might be a helpful way to begin to make space in your life for the things that matter most to you right now;
Purge your closet. Specifically, stop hanging on to those clothes you hope to wear again after Oprah’s Weight Watcher’s taco diet does its magic. If you haven’t worn it in a year or two (at most!), get rid of it. Your local thrift store or consignment shop will gladly take your treasures off your hands. Those too-small clothes are taking up space, and silently shaming you for no longer fitting into them any more. If you do lose that weight, plan to treat yourself to something new or reward yourself with a shopping trip to a consignment shop. Maybe you can even re-buy the 1990’s polka-dot pants you donated there.
Have you had the same hairstyle since the glory days of your early 20’s? A lot of us stick with the same look for years, as we tend to lock on a look that worked for us when we perceived we were at our prime. Memo to those of us at midlife: our “prime” was not 30 years ago. As we grow in wisdom and maturity, we step into our prime. As we age and change, our hair style can change with us. Consider asking your stylist to freshen your look, or suggest something a little less high-maintenance.
Have you considered purging your bookshelves? Maybe its time to lighten your load. Donating those books to your local library or dropping them off at a used book store is a way to pass on the pleasure you experienced from a book to someone else. For example, we used to keep lots of big heavy Bible commentaries and concordances on our shelves, but it’s been years since I’ve used them. I use biblegateway.com and preceptaustin.org for initial searches, and if I need something more in depth, I’ll head to a local seminary library or my local library, who can find me a book from a library not in my area. I also recognized that we had lots of novels of the “read on the airplane” variety that we never planned to read again, and decided those were not worth the shelf space in our home. Finally, I held on to lots of books for years after we finished home schooling, because the volumes had a lot of sentimental value. I recognized the memories were in me, not in the books. It felt good to pass them on to other families who could use them. It feels good to purge, and let some fresh air into those bookshelves and boxes. Now we have space for a collection that is current and relevant to our lives now.
Maybe it’s time to reassess that volunteer or ministry position you’ve been doing for a while. Have you’ve taught 5th grade Sunday School for years? Done accounting for your local food pantry ministry? One sign of mature leadership is to ensure you’re raising up your replacement. While you may well decide you wish to continue, it is wise occasionally to spend some time prayerfully considering if this is where you should be, or if God may be asking you to step into something new.
Is there something you’re bringing to an end in this new year? What is most challenging about this process for you?