This one might strike a nerve, amigos. Or three.
But since I can’t see you and you can’t reach me… we gonna get down the nitty-gritty of our containers. Yes, those containers. His, hers, mine and yours.
The cardboard boxes… the plastic bins… the forgotten… the ignored… all of it.
So here’s the question on the awkward table between us: If God impressed upon your heart a move—across town, across the country, to another country—how soon could you pack up and get out?
I don’t want to be known for my stuff. But if I’m in a constant state of avoiding piles, adding more boxes to the rafters and building more storage, it’s probably time to re-evaluate where my treasure (and heart) is.
Yes, I’m talking to myself. It’s a constant struggle and I’m weary.
We recently moved into a new-to-us house with fresh paint and clean surfaces, and I have zero intention of filling every nook and cranny. I want our space to feel open… fresh… uncluttered.
But now that we’ve lived here for two months I realize we’re functioning fine without the remaining 36 boxes, still stacked, mocking us from three different rooms.
Did I say 36? Sorry—I meant 63.
Actually, I got embarrassed and stopped counting. Ugh.
Don’t judge. You know you’d like to see inside this one:
How long have you lived in your house/apartment/condo/trailer? Any bins you haven’t unpacked yet? Any boxes you’re storing because you don’t want to deal with what you might find?
On becomingminimalist.com, Joshua Becker points out some obvious but helpful keys to paring down. “Want a cleaner home? Own less stuff. It works every time.”
He and his wife made the decision years ago to pare down. Sometimes they get asked, “Do you think you’ll always live with a minimal number of possessions?” His response is always the same, “Oh yeah, I’m never going back. There’s just too much joy and freedom on this side.”
Joy and freedom? Si, por favor!
In an interview about stuff and junk, Derek Naylor, president of the consultant group Storage Marketing Solutions, told Joshua Becker,
“Human laziness has always been a big friend of self-storage operators. Because once they’re in, nobody likes to spend all day moving their stuff out of storage. As long as they can afford it, and feel psychologically that they can afford it, they’ll leave that stuff in there forever.”
I’m aware storage facilities are necessary when moving or floating between dwellings, but regularly paying for an off-site location to keep a bunch of stuff I don’t use? Not a fan.
The psychology behind keeping paraphernalia we don’t use fascinates me.
- For some of us, it’s because we have a large basement/attic/garage. If it all fits, there’s no urgency to weed out. (Do you see me raising my hand?)
- For some, it’s because we’ve bought into the American notion that storage facilities are a brilliant idea.
- For some it’s guilt; getting rid of things would disappoint others. (Uhh… raising my hand again.) If you’ve ever contemplated the idea of pitching but then regressed, you’re not alone.
What if sad ceramic clowns come back in style?
If there’s a massive earthquake, my AM/FM walkman will be our only connection to the outside world.
But Aunt Fay made this rainbow throw for our wedding.
If we ever relocate I’m definitely going to need that trash bag of packing popcorn.
National Geographic is educational and I might want to read those articles from 1997 again.
My grandma might write me out of the will if I got rid of that mauve chafing dish.
Now that we’re motivated, we take action. Don’t you dare stop reading here; this is the fun part.
Step 1: Bring box #1 to your busiest, most crowded family hangout room. Location is key—trust me.
Go ahead… I’ll wait.
Step 2: Take out every single item. Yes—all of it. For a fun time with non-breakables, dump box upside down and squeal, “Wheeeeeee!”
If someone asks what you’re doing, tell them you’re searching for your treasure. If you have small pirates, enlist their help.
Since I’ve been walking past this disastrous box about twelve times a day for eight weeks, I started in my bathroom:
Step 3: Crush box and put in recycler. Don’t neglect this step; it’s crucial to your success. If it’s a bin, put the lid back on and take it out to the garage/shed/greenhouse/basement/barn.
Step 4: Deal with your exciting pile until everything has a new home. (Salvation Army, neighbor kid, garage sale, round file.)
Step 5: Recover for an hour. (Or a day.) You did it! Pretty incredible feeling, huh?
Step 6: Grab box #2 and repeat Steps 1-5.
This is not a drill, friend. Please move to your nearest neglected container and begin.
Clear vs. Cardboard
“I don’t like clear bins ‘cause all my stuff looks junky in them.”
I felt the same. If you’re storing junk, then yes—your clear bins will look junky.
Perhaps you don’t think your stuff is junk though, and are thrilled about how your swan candlesticks and Laura Ashley floral pillows look in the bin. But if you’re not using those treasures… donate or sell them. Like, today.
When a friend told me about OfferUp and Facebook Marketplace, I knew I found my outlets. I had 22 items for sale this week, and I’m making way more money than at garage sales. Boom.
Save your bin space for the things you actually use at least on a yearly basis. Like…
- Camping supplies! (If you truly camp.)
- Holiday decor!
- Beach and pool toys!
- Old hacky sacks! (No—not those.)
Here’s my plug for plastic over cardboard, and clear over colored:
- If you ever have a small flood (been there), your cardboard boxes will go from strong to weak in 1.5 minutes. Bins can wade and float.
- Most critters love cardboard but can’t eat through heavy-duty plastic.
- Finding what you’re looking for is so much easier when your bins are see-through.
Now that our weather’s warm I’m ready to pack winter goods and stick them up where they’ll keep each other company till November. So these are sitting in my Amazon cart this week, competing for my new closet:
I couldn’t hear you the first time, so here’s that super fun question again:
If God impressed upon your heart a move—across town, across the country, to another country—how fast could you pack up and get out?
Seriously—without an army of college students packing your place, how long would it take to sift through every possession and get you into a moving truck? Thirteen days? A month? Baseball season?
If your answer lies somewhere between next fall and the next Olympics, maybe it’s time for us both to tackle our boxes like Joshua and Kim Becker did. Did I mention they’re Christians?
Yep–clutter-free, Jesus-lovers who aren’t afraid to let people into every part of their home. What a glorious combo. Much more attractive than locking the door and sucking your thumb in the garage.
“We are not here to possess the world. We are here to show, by how we use the world, that Christ is more precious than the world.” – John Piper
How are you using the world?
How are you using your possessions?
Would you like to send me a picture of your empty box so I can celebrate with you? Feel free.
You can do it! Yes, you can.