Sunday, January 10, 2010

Will it change my life?

In my previous post I wrote about simplifying my life and my mind by becoming aware of the extraneous activities and preoccupations that, instead of enhancing my life, have actually become a burden to my mind, body and spirit. How do I determine what is extraneous? How do I know what is essential and needful and what is not? The example from my previous post is rather obvious. The story that my mind was telling me was a total waste of my time and energy. But, as I look around my life -- and when I say life I mean my home, my activities, my work, my parenting, my partnering, my prayer life, my church, my relationships, my thoughts, my struggles, all of my life –it becomes very difficult to know what is essential and needful and what is not.

I used to think that anything that was good could not be extraneous. Anything that brings more light into the world must be extremely necessary. And yet, what if even what is good in my life has become a burden to my spirit? I don’t just mean a burden because the schedule is pretty full or I would prefer to curl up on the couch with a book. I mean that my life feels too heavy. So what needs to go?

I begin with the externals. I go around my house sorting out drawers, cupboards and closets picking up one thing after the other and asking, Is it needful? Can I live without it? When was the last time that I used it? Will I even miss it when it is gone? And here’s a question that I read a long time ago in a book about simplifying: If I keep it, will it change my life? If I let it go, will it change my life? I think that I should also add, will it change someone else’s life? It may seem silly to ask whether a sweater or a pair of earrings changes one’s life, but it really works. Because, of course, sometimes a sweater really can change your life.

I have a jewelry tree that sits on my dresser. Fifteen or twenty pairs of earrings hang on it. There are several small bowls that sit scattered across the dresser top holding at least that many more. For weeks now, as I walk past those various receptacles, I have felt encumbered by them. For me, it’s no longer fun to try to choose a pair of earrings out of that vast array every morning. I want to have just a few pairs that I can wear with pretty much everything. So, I gave many of them away, and put the rest away in a cupboard, not quite ready to actually put them out of my life forever. I will go back in another 6 months or so and see what else I can part with.

That little jewelry tree holding beautiful earrings is a metaphor for all of my inner life and for my activities and ministries. There are so many dazzling possibilities out there and in here. But, I cannot hold them all and I feel that right now in my life I am being called to particularly scale back, paring things down to the bare essentials. There are dreams and desires that are calling to be birthed in me. There is still some healing that needs to be done. And they require spaciousness. Spaciousness on the outside and on the inside.

Will these dreams, desires and healing change my life. I KNOW that they will. Will they change someone else’s life? Will it change the world?

22 comments:

Sulwyn said...

Your post about clearing things out could not have been better timed for me! My husband and I are cleaning out our pantry and freezer since the freezer needed defrosting. I'm finding all kinds of things that I have been afraid to use up or throw out before. We have thrown out the obvious stuff, and have a list of what needs to be used soonest. Thank you for sharing your insights about letting go!

Jennifer said...

Rebecca - My comment would be too long to explain my personal journey in simplification. It is ongoing in terms of having the CHOICES and deciding what is or is not to be at a particular time. However, I had a moment such as you that a type of clarity came to me that was different and it greatly enhanced my ability to know from that point on what is to be or not to be, now. It was a defining shift that guides me. Again, the details would be too much to post, but I know that it has been the window for which I now see.

Out of that time period (it was a year and half literal scaling back, then another 2 year seclusion period) many opportunities and directives have come. Had I not acted, I would not be commenting right here, right now on this blog. Yes...it does change the world!

You are one of the most gentle and soothing souls I have interacted with in blogging and there is no way you are existing without affecting those around you with this beautiful spirit.

You are in my prayers.

smiles4u said...

I read your previous post and was going to comment but just couldn't put my thoughts into words. Your words in that post and this post really speak to me. Maybe it's because I am at a place that I really need to hear the message of your words? I am a believer yet I find encouragement and wisdom from other sources then the bible. Not everyone understands this or accepts this.

I too, love the word simplicity. I have been feeling the call to making things more simple in my life. I already do live a pretty simple life but there are things I have hung on to that must go. We have started going through things in our home. Clothes, toys, books, and just stuff. I have been feeling this deep need to simplify and clean out, not just physically but interally as well.

In feeling like we have too much "stuff" cluttering up our home, I feel the same way about the "stuff" cluttering up my heart.

I probabally am not making much sense here which is why I almost didn't comment but your words are so beautiful and honest that I cannot pass by here without thanking you. I have been blessed to read the things you share here. Thank you. Lori

SUNRISE SISTER said...

Rebecca, I think that if it changes us personally, it changes the world. It's the same story with our resources, if we waste our water, we waste everyone's water, etc. Yes, I think even small changes make a big difference to the world. Your posts make a difference for me:)

xoxo

The Pollinatrix said...

I agree with what SS says here.

I totally appreciate where you're coming from here, but I'm currently on this trajectory of being mindful about...hmmm...how do I say this - focusing on changing things all the time. I've become a little bit critical of that. I'm contemplating the usefulness of unusefulness, fun and joy and silliness as valuable expressions of our little Godselves. Simply resting in and enjoying What Is. For me, that's what simplicity means right now.

I do however see great value in what you're doing; it's just a different place from mine at the moment.

Nichol said...

Yes, i think you are changing the world. I speak from experience...you changed my world.

Rebecca Johnson said...

Sulwyn, Doesn't it feel GOOD!? I love that feeling.

Love....

Rebecca Johnson said...

Jennifer, How hopeful to think that through much time and effort you were graced with that window through which you can see clearly in which directions you are being called to act and be. What a blessing! I would really love to hear more about your 2 year seclusion. Could you email me a little bit about that? It feels important to my journey. Thank you.

Love....

Rebecca Johnson said...

Lori, You make perfect sense. I hear ya sister! I hope that you find the time, energy and grace to clear out what is ready to GO.

Love....

Rebecca Johnson said...

SS, I completely agree. Isn't there that commercial, "We are all connected"? Now I don't know where I heard that because I don't watch television. Any way, I believe in ripples. Every smile, every kind word, every whispered prayer matters in this world. Thanks for taking the time to remind all of us.

Love....

Rebecca Johnson said...

Polli, I'm not quite sure if you are saying that you are mindful of focusing on changing things all of the time or not changing things all of the time.

I agree with the HUGE value of fun and silliness. Very simple indeed!

In my life and in my post I am noticing what it is in my life that feels heavy and burdensome. I just don't think that those things are "God". I don't feel God in that. (It's not to say that I think that God is all light and fluffy all of the time. I don't. The heaviness just doesn't feel like God energy to me. I feel that simplifying might also mean being called to accepting situations as they are and living amidst the mess and the stuff. (I have to do that to some extent. I do have children after all.)

We may be in different places right now, but I feel very sure that we are going in the same direction. Toward what is good and loving.

Love....

Rebecca Johnson said...

Nichol,

You bring tears to my eyes. Thank you. I miss you.

Love...

Jennifer said...

Rebecca - Yes, I will email you!

Jennifer said...

Rebecca,

I could not find your email on your blog?

My email is: onetrueselfblog@gmail.com

I look forward to our correspondence.

Jennifer

The Pollinatrix said...

I was trying inelegantly to say that I get tired of focusing on changing things and myself all the time. There's a quote from Thomas Merton that I've been mulling over in this regard lately:

"Finally I am coming to the conclusion that my highest ambition is to be what I already am. That I will never fulfill my obligation to surpass myself unless I first accept myself and, if I accept myself fully in the right way, I will already have surpassed myself. For it is the unaccepted self that stands in my way and will continue to do so as long as it is not accepted...We must first become like ourselves and stop living "beside ourselves."

I agree that we are moving in the same direction; I guess it's just that what feels heavy and burdensome to me right now is more my own preoccupation with "bettering myself" than anything else. And in terms of "stuff," it's more the disorder of it than the amount of it that burdens me.

Rebecca Johnson said...

Polli, I feel a little bit of Merton's Zen stuff coming into this quote. (Which is a good thing. I like it.)

When I read this quote i hear him recognizing that in his truest self he is already exactly who he is meant to be. No changes need to occur at that level. However, there are behaviors and history and stories and baggage and yes even the S word (sin), in between how he behaves in the world currently and who he really is . It is in believing that I am already and truly that highest self that I find the freedom to move forward and "surpass myself".


It seemed like your responses were saying that I had suggested some change or betterment project for myself. But I'm not seeing it in my post. Do you?

There is a time for hard work in our inner lives and there is a time for grace. At this point in the journey, it is about grace. I'm not working very hard at much. : )

The Pollinatrix said...

I guess it was just the title. It wouldn't be the way I would put the criteria for something's value at this point in my life. But I might put it a different way that means the same thing.

I'm sorry if I've come across as critical, though. I am in complete support of what you're doing. I'm just weary of my OWN focus on always changing myself and my life.

lila said...

I smiled when I read this post...I too have the "little dishes" with jewelry on my dresser top.
I must say, that they are not fun to dust....perhaps it IS time to let go of some? [I do think it is good to wear some of these, I feel it makes the people I work with and in my home feel energized when they see that I care enough to dress up just a bit!]
I guess the discernment comes in learning which baubles (and dreams) to let go of and which of them to treasure!

Beth Knight said...

Rebecca - this resonates with me and I think you already know this is a way of being that feels very comfortable for me. As each person discerns for themself what is needed or extraneous I agree that the world is changed. Most recently I am looking at my own habits with cell phones and the lack of safety surrounding their use. I know two persons that have died this year from another persons use of cell phones while driving. This is my latest thing to "release" and simply ... Thank you for your continued presence and gift of words & insight to all of us.

Jennifer said...

As I read through all of the comments I realize that there are some interesting aspects of the time period of clearing out my world. There are lots of things again that would be too many to discuss, but one of the principles I used to prepare my home was Feng Shui. Literally having nothing obstructing my view in my kitchen transcends into something deeper for me. I change the look of the kitchen now depending on my mood. Sometimes I might put something additional on the counter, but after this past Christmas, in hindsight I realize how appropriate this is. I have cleared it almost completely.

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Rebecca Johnson said...

Lila, Sorry to take so long to respond to your post. Yes, please wear your gorgeous baubles! I love to see them on others. Truly! Beautiful things make me very happy as long as I can be a good steward of them and care for them lovingly. Thanks for dropping by.

Love...