As I drug everything out of the closet and piled it on the bed, the size of the stack and my heart rate increased from the effort.  The disorganized pile of tops, jeans, dresses, and shoes represented years of both intentional purchases and impulse buying; overpriced items mixed with the good deals I just couldn’t pass up.

Despite the variety and number of items, I could easily see why I had spent so many mornings struggling to find something to wear.  Having more hadn’t made it easier to get dressed, it made it more complicated and overwhelming.

I stepped back and evaluated the heap.  For a moment,  I was overcome with a longing to be standing in my messy closet on a normal morning, desperately shuffling through each item and finally throwing something on before running out the door.  Though stressful, it was what I knew and I was used to the routine.

Taking a deep breath and refocusing on the task at hand I started to evaluate each piece of clothing.  I tried things on to see how they looked and how they made me feel.  I started a “donate” pile for things that didn’t fit or that I was finally willing to admit just weren’t me but might be perfect for someone else.

The “keep” pile was for anything that I go to regularly and feel good wearing.  There was a sub pile of “keep” dubbed “needs attention” full of pieces that I truly loved but needed to spend some time tailoring, or styling to feel my best in.

When everything had been sorted, I scrubbed the empty closet from top to bottom.  A little disgusted at the amount of dust and grime but thrilled by the feeling of accomplishment as it began to shine like a new space waiting to be filled with things I love.

Then something unexpected happened.  As I started to put the “keep” items back, my clean open space started to feel crowded again.  I suddenly felt very protective of the beautiful, uncluttered closet and sad that I had ever let it get so out of control.

I went back through and ruthlessly purged more – if I didn’t love it, it didn’t stay.  This was my chance to make a fresh start and I wasn’t going to mess it up by keeping anything that didn’t belong.

At the end of the day, everything was in it’s place and I had a huge pile of clothes ready to be donated. I felt peaceful.  My closet had transformed from a stressful, hurried mess to a haven where everything had a purpose and a place.

I sat down and smiled at the analogy that had been going through my mind all day.  The recognition that my life before the pandemic was a lot like my old closet – too full of stuff.   Some of it I loved and wanted to keep and cherish.  Plans, work, thoughts and relationships that I valued and wanted to focus on, nurture, and grow.

There were also things I had allowed in that didn’t belong.  Things that I had selfishly and sometimes fearfully grabbed up because they looked like a good deal but in reality didn’t fit.  Plans, work, thoughts and even relationships that needed a new home where they could thrive.

Even in the midst of so much sadness and pain, there is also purpose.  There is opportunity to cleanse, rebuild, and refresh, to be honest about what belongs and what needs to go, to love, cherish, and pour into things that bring a smile and joy, to value, appreciate, and feed God’s gifts so that they glorify Him and fulfill His purpose.

Some days it’s hard and I miss the clutter that once kept me busy and distracted.  But as I’ve learned to pause and pray more, I’ve found days of peace, faith, and an eager anticipation that helps propel me forward.  I put on what God has placed in front of me because He knows exactly what fits best.

Every day I pray for guidance, wisdom, and the strength to know what to keep and what to put back for someone else.  I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I trust and know that if I am faithful to His plan, He will provide all that I need.