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Simplify: My Lenten challenge

By Jessica Brodie

Lately, I’ve been struggling with an overwhelming urge to simplify my life. Clutter, which has always bothered me, now seems downright wrong. If I open a drawer and discover it is crammed full of junk, my first inclination is to grab a trashcan and start tossing. Even the amount of clothing I’ve accumulated seems wasteful and distracting.

A friend is doing Project 333, which is a minimalist fashion challenge where you dress with only 33 items over the course of three months. I’m not sure I’m ready for that, but I admire it fiercely. Another friend has chosen to live as though her house is up for sale—no items on countertops, everything streamlined and pristine. They just bought their house, mind you, and it’s not up for sale, but the clutter-free lifestyle works for them.

While decluttering your life can be therapeutic, I never realized there were scriptural ties until I started researching what The United Methodist Church says about Lent. And this evening, right there on the UMC.org Lenten resources website, it says clear as day: Lent is a season of the Christian year when people are invited to simply their lives to focus on their relationship with God in Christ.

Simplify. Declutter. Streamline. Ah, yes.

Reading those words, it occurred to me there’s perhaps been a deeper reason why I’m so called to simplifying right now. Perhaps in seeking to simplify I’m actually subconsciously realizing I have too much going on in life, too much mess, too much chaos, too much stuff, all getting in the way of what really matters: relationship with God and my fellow humans.

My husband has been feeling it, too. When we married in November, we combined two households and now have so much stuff we needed a storage unit. This week, somehow we both had the epiphany that getting rid of all our excess stuff was exactly what we needed to do. It’s pretty liberating.

Growing up, I somehow had the notion I was supposed to “give up” something for Lent—chocolate, red meat, you name it. But as an adult, I’ve come to realize it’s more about a journey that will draw you closer to Christ. Sometimes that has to do with sacrifice or a positive lifestyle change, but sometimes it’s just about the walk, about doing whatever it takes to focus on God.

And this year, for me, my Lenten buzzword is “simplify.”

As I journey through this season, I hope my walk with God results in a more meaningful relationship with Him.

The neater house can’t hurt, either.

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