I got this cool artwork when I was in Seattle this summer. It's a favorite of mine. After the boys started school this year and I began the paperwork and the long process of waiting for the board to move my counseling licensure through, I thought purging items in my house would keep me busy. I was not expecting it to take me months and I was not expecting it to be as good for me as it was! I made the crazy goal of going through every single cabinet and closet and purging, organizing, and re-establishing some sort of order in the house. I had read the book, "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up" and I wanted to try it for myself. It felt like a big goal when I started but it became more like therapy in the end. God met me in my mess and gave me days full of love, grace and insight. Let me explain.
As parenting, as I knew it, came to an end, I began to look at the job I had done and question if I had been a good enough parent. From this perspective I saw all the holes that existed in my parenting. All the times I wish I could have gone back in time and correct what went wrong. I began to feel burdened with the fact that there was nothing I could do about the past. And I began to believe that I had done my best but even my best had not felt good enough. I struggled with this thought for months maybe even years. As I began to purge and clean out my closets I decided to put together a box for each kid with little personal things from their childhood. I would spend a day in one closet or one area. I would not put music on but rather I would go through all of my items and ask myself if it brought me happiness at this present moment. If the answer was no I then thanked God for what the item represented and acknowledged the memory. I then would decide to store it in one of the kids boxes or get rid of it. Each and every item held in my hands. Each item examined, considered, and carefully placed.
As I went through the house God walked me through my life as a mom. He filled me with love and grace. I began to gain deep insight to the fact that I had been the exact parent God had created me to be. God began to reveal to me that the holes in my parenting were intentionally created for each of my children. He revealed that those parenting holes would be the places that His strength and love would shine through to each child giving them their own journey to Him. He reminded me that I was never created to be my children's God but that I had been created to be imperfect. I began to see how badly I had wanted to be perfect at mothering. I began to identify areas where I needed to trust rather than fix or control. I began to see that each child had to do their own journeying to make sense of their childhood. And I began to accept that being imperfect was actually part of the beautiful plan. Love was really the only perfect part of my parenting.
Then something amazing happened. God filled me with so much love and grace and I could almost feel him say to me, "Good job! You did exactly what I asked you to do with MY children. I will take it from here." As I packed each box with great love I prayed for each of my beautiful children and thanked God for using me to mother them during their childhood. Sometimes, I would just sit with the memory of an item that took me to a special moment of time with a particular child. I would let the memory float through my mind and I would intentionally give the memory a treasured place in my heart. Sometimes I cried, sometimes I would smile, and many times I would just be filled with deep love. Isn't it funny how motherhood changes a life? I acknowledged how changed I was after this amazing journey of raising children. I met myself in my messy closets. I accepted my new self. I acknowledged my new life as a mother to grown adult children and in my mind I bowed out vowing to be a mom that would be more in the background. I wrote a note to each child reminding them of my deep love and appreciation for them and placed it in their box. And I physically started to shift my mind into the new stage of life I was entering. I did this all at a pace that felt comforting to me. I felt in control of the moment and gave the feelings and thoughts room to just BE.
I questioned God saying, "what could I ever do with more purpose than raising these children?" I felt Him say with gentleness, "everything has purpose!" I thought about that for days as I was going through more closets and drawers. I would often say, "everything has purpose?" And I would always feel a gentle, "yes" to the question every time I asked. As I have finally come to the end of my purging two and a half months later I get it. EVERYTHING has purpose!! Every stage of life has much meaning and much to do. Every time we move to another stage there is always fear that we will not be as good as the last stage or maybe there is regret. But the great insight is that EVERYTHING has purpose, meaning, and much to teach.
As I leave the stage of journeying back over the last 23 years I am filled with great appreciation that I survived, that I grew up, and that I found myself. I learned how to give myself grace, I learned to love another deeper than I loved myself, and I learned that from this moment forward everything will continue to have purpose! I never thought I would find such great insights by cleaning my closets. I think I am ready to turn 50....