The Gift of the Purge

My friend and family member recently read Marie Kondo's book and was inspired and challenged to conduct her own purge. I think her honest thoughts and observations will be a blessing to you as you consider your own life and belongings!


I have this lingering desire to be a minimalist. However, this desire rubs up against another desire, which is to have lots of options. This was clearly revealed as my husband and I decided to purge our apartment as we began the process of moving into a condo across town. Luckily, I started reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo right about the time I started picking up liquor store packing boxes. It’s a quick and inspiring read that had me up and ready to open all the closets and pull out all the drawers. 

I didn’t follow Marie’s game plan to a tee, but her filter of how to let go of belongings was so helpful. “Does this bring joy?” “Is it broken?” “Practical?” I quickly found myself tossing things into a Goodwill pile, so many items I have kept simply because I didn’t know what to do with them. James and I had 6 large garbage bags filled with worn and unloved clothes within an hour. Bookshelves, junk drawers, and rubbermaid storage tubs followed soon after our closets. I honestly was surprised at how much stuff we STILL had. We both purged our individual places before we got married almost a year and half ago. Thinking about what our home would look like in thirty years without a good purge also provided some good motivation to get all the excess out of the house! 

As my hands tinkered with little souvenirs from my time spent living abroad, picture frames that hung in my college dorm room, and forgotten gifts from dear friends, I was filled with a sense of gratitude for memories of joy and laughter. It wasn’t the easiest to turn these items over, but I did so with the anticipation that God would bring new memories and joy into this phase of my life. I am finding little places of freedom in my life and in my soul as I discard so many things that I have been hiding, storing, and safe keeping. I was surprised what I discovered about myself in my hoarding. 

I kept all those clippings from foreign magazines (which I can’t even translate) because I am afraid that I will one day become stationary and boring. I don’t want to forget that I was once vibrant, adventurous, and cultured. I saved those skinny jeans from 7 years ago because I secretly hoped that I would someday return to when my waistline was a lot smaller. I tucked away gifts from family out of obligation. Wouldn’t they be so offended if they knew the money they spent on me was donated to strangers or given away to friends? I also found all these remnants from a failed friendship that brought sadness and confusion. I discovered that I held onto them in hopes that someday everything would be as it was before the fallout and that I might have some kind of understanding about the unraveling. I took these emotions, denim, and trinkets, and I placed them in a cardboard Jack Daniel’s box…and I let go. 

This is what I received: grace. Kindness toward myself that I hadn’t been receiving. I let go of the notion that 22-year-old Leigh was the most fun version of myself that I would ever be. I gave away the desire to be a smaller size and made space in my soul and closet to be a more mature, trendy, and acceptable form of myself. I am letting my unused vases, dishware, and decor, given to me in love, to be used to bless others. My family will never know, and whatever joy and beauty others receive from those things is a result of their initial care towards me. I like that! There is a physical peace I now have from releasing memories from a broken friendship. With every item that I put in the box, I embraced forgiveness and released the wrong thoughts that I was a failure because this once life-giving friendship didn't survive. I had no idea that the deep tidying of my house would lead towards healing and new vision and life. I still have a few more rounds of tidying to go, but there is more space in my house and my mind to accept some new dreams and be present to the current realities of my life.