My mom and dad determined it was time to downsize from their large home into something smaller. They moved into their current home when I was six years old and have lived there ever since. The walls of their home have absorbed years of personal growth, parties, transitions, ministry connections, laughter, tears, and much more.

The closets, bedrooms, and shelves have embraced collections of momentos, material goods, gifts, and necessary articles for living. After 45 years, there is much to sort through, share with family members, and give away for others to enjoy.

Downsize – To release; let go. To move into something smaller. To eliminate the unnecessary.

Gary’s parents downsized a few years ago. I recall the process for them seemed long and arduous. By God’s grace they completed the task and moved into something smaller and more manageable in a warmer place, from Ohio to Florida. They shared much of their life-long accumulations as blessings to others.

Today, my parents enter the emotional and physical journey of releasing and letting go.

Detaching from those things we deem important proves an emotionally and physically taxing practice. Coffee cups, vases, tools, china, cassette tapes, record albums, photos, comic book and doll collections, school projects, etc. carry heartfelt memories. Recollections arouse nostalgic feelings and remembrances of God’s faithfulness. In order to let go of “things” that represent milestones, experiences, and growth in life, the practice of downsizing engages a deep journey for the soul. Downsizing is not for the faint of heart.

I remember when Gary, Sammy, Sophie, and I downsized six years ago; it was tough. It required mental gymnastics to discern what to keep and what to release. Sometimes we keep things because we fear forgetting. Other times, we hold on to goods believing we just might need them “someday.” Nevertheless, the process of downsizing mandates the elimination of the unnecessary in order to transition to a smaller space.

I am reminded what the founder of The Society of Jesus, Ignatius of Loyola (1492-1556), identified as “disordered attachments.” Ignatius encouraged the understanding that all things in this world are gifts of God, created for us to help us know Him better, love Him more fully, and serve Him faithfully. These created things not only offer deeper connection with God, but also can offer distraction and hinder our journey with Him. Those very things that once suggested life become the very attachments that keep us from God.

Anything we attach to that misaligns with the heart of God can lead to disorder. Unfortunately these attachments often bring bondage rather than freedom. Perhaps simple ideas like needing just one more Starbucks coffee mug or wearing the latest fashions induce inappropriate obsessions. Or, maybe complex thoughts like clinging to the approval of others for personal validation, controlling conversations, or keeping peace at all costs might lead to disturbances within the soul preventing trust and obedience to God’s design.

Downsize – To release; let go. To move into something smaller. To eliminate the unnecessary.

While downsizing one’s home, confronting the accumulation of physical goods offers deep internal work, downsizing the clutter within one’s soul provides even deeper spiritual work, movement with God, and freedom for the soul. This lenten period leading to Easter (Feb.18-Apr.1), presents a superb season to downsize and declutter our lives in order to live focused more intently upon Jesus and His salvific activity.

What does letting go of the clutter of one’s mind, heart, and soul look like?

John proclaimed that Jesus must increase and he, John, must decrease (see John 3:30-31). John realized the will of God must precede his own personal will. John’s focus was Jesus: His ways and heart. In what ways can Jesus increase within your living and being? How can you set aside personal agendas to attend to and follow the heart of God?

When I think of decluttering disorder within my soul, I consider my motivations. I must check within my soul why I speak certain words, bring up particular ideas, support specific beliefs, and question certain differences. Am I open to God confronting me with the mess within my soul? Do I welcome God’s consolation when confusion and chaos infiltrate the depths of my being? How can I discern with the Spirit within me Truth, wisdom, and authenticity?

Allow the curiosity of God to permeate your soul. Be curious with your Heavenly Father about the role of these elements within your life :

Often the inside of our soul becomes similar to a tangled mess of yarn balls thrown into a Tupperware, “free” gifts shoved into the bottom drawer, and ear phone cables plunged into a pocket. Sorting through the disordered array requires both time and intention. The downsizing of what has become overwhelming invites moment by moment of surrendered obedience to the voice of God and the movement of His Spirit within.

You may not be moving homes, but consider downsizing a closet, a shelf in the kitchen, or a drawer in the office. Allow this physical act to lead your soul toward the freeing spiritual practice of decluttering the disordered attachments within your soul and downsizing yourself, so that Jesus becomes more – your singular focus.

Pray with me this prayer of Ignatius of Loyola called the Suscipe, Latin for “take;”

Take Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and possess. Thou hast given all to me. To Thee, O Lord, I return it. All is Thine, dispose of it wholly according to Thy will. Give me Thy love and Thy grace, for this is sufficient for me.

Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

Jeremiah 29:13 –  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Colossians 1:16-17 –  For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Read these recommended books to fill your soul.

Gary Hoag. Lent Companion. E-book.  2021.

(In)courage Community and Ginger Kolbaba, ed. . Courageous Simplicity: Abide in the Simple Abundance of Jesus.  Grand Rapids, MI. 2021.

Sprinklings of Truth: Soak in meaningful songs. Check out these music videos to lift up your spirit.

Vertical Worship. Yes,I will.

Hillsong Young and Free. Let Go.