I read an interesting book this past summer called 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. With a title like that, I suspected this book might make me a bit uncomfortable – and that it might leave me a little different than when I started.
It didn’t disappoint.
One of the things Jen (the author) does is commit to give away 7 of her possessions for a month. Quick math reveals she’s going to give away 210 of her belongings. Impressive, right? But what she quickly realizes is that she has SO MUCH STUFF that 210 items doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what that she can give away. Purging her closet alone produced hundreds of no-longer-used and still perfectly good items.
So this got me thinking. Normally when I purge my closet I ask myself I ask myself, “Is there any possibility I might want to wear this sometime in the next three years?” If the answer is yes, it stays. So pretty much everything stays except some super old gross stuff that no one wants in their closet anyhow.
But as I thought about how many items in my closet are in perfectly great shape but I simply just don’t wear them, I realized I’m missing an opportunity here. What if I could find someone else who would use and appreciate these clothes that I never end up wearing? What if instead of asking myself “could I possibly wear this again?” I asked myself, “Did I wear this in the past year? Am I ACTUALLY going to wear it again?” And if the answer’s no, then why on earth wouldn’t I give it to someone who could use it?
What if I could find someone else who would use and appreciate these clothes that I never end up wearing?
So I started small. I picked out some items that I still liked and thought were cute but that I simply didn’t wear anymore. Then I found a family in our church who has a lot of kids and not a ton of income, and I gave some clothes to their teenage daughters.
And y’know what, there is something vastly different about actually giving your belongings to someone who needs them than just donating them to a faceless organization. It’s surprisingly rewarding, and it made me want to do a deeper purge and give away some more.
In addition to the joy of giving, this kind of practice creates an incredible attitude of gratitude. When we look at our closets in this way, we realize how much we really do have and how little we really do need. No, I may not have every latest fashion, and my husband may be sick of my saying I have nothing to wear, but the reality is that I am incredibly blessed. I have enough clothes that I can give away bags of them and hardly even noticed. Wow, that’s something that a majority of the world can’t even imagine.
So if you want some extra joy in your life this holiday season, go through your closets, your cupboards, and your storage and find some amazing items that you simply don’t use. Then instead of selling them or dropping them off at GoodWill, find someone around you that could use them and add a little blessing to their life. You’ll sure be glad you did.
Teachers: Consider collecting donations from your class as a service project. Then brainstorm with them to find worthy people to donate them to.
And if you’re tired of feeling like you don’t have enough, I totally recommend Jen’s book 7. You can grab it from Amazon here.
Hi! Years ago we lived on the edge of a small commercial farm in Zimbabwe and I was always giving away stuff to strangers who came to the gate for one reason or another and you are right – it was a special blessing. We told them it was in the name of Jesus sometimes and gave them food if we had no cash or clothes. I know that 3rd world poor are truely poor , like people who are homeless in other 1st world countries. I have mostly given to “faceless charities ” here because I did not think do to what you did. Thank you for a Brilliant idea