“You would be so proud of me!” I gleefully exclaimed one day when my new husband came home from work. “I cleaned out my shoes and I’m down to 23 pairs!”
You can probably imagine his horrified look as first surprise, then shock, and then horror overtook his features. “Twenty-three pairs? Surely, you mean 23 shoes, right? You have twenty-three shoes.” I quickly assured that I did indeed have an even number of feet and so I meant twenty-three pairs. “But, you know you can only wear one pair at a time, right?”
Obviously, this man just wasn’t getting the importance of my actions. To whittle down a collection of shoes to just a few pairs was outstanding. I had de-cluttered my shoes and kept only those that were my absolute favorites.
I should not have been surprised by his lack of enthusiasm; I mean the man only had two pairs of shoes; one pair for work and church, and one pair for recreation. (That sounds so much nicer than play shoes, doesn’t it?)
For a number of years, I treated my inner life just as I treated my shoes. I would occasionally de-clutter my heart of excess junk, old opinions I had held on to, sins I had committed, grudges I had nursed, thoughts I deemed necessary to life, emotions that were destructive. I still hung on to the vast majority of sins, in thought and deed. I kept only my current absolute favorites. I tenaciously held on to every feeling that defined my identity.
Just as some shoes can be painful and pinch my feet, parts of my identity were painful and gripping them to my chest caused immense pain. Still I held on tight. People would complain, they would reject me, and I would still cling tightly to who I thought I had to be in order to be me.
But now you also, put them all aside; anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.” Colossians 3:8 (NASB)
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor be put away from you, along with all malice.” Ephesians 4:31 (NASB)
Eventually, over time, I began decluttering my shoes even further. I never had only two pairs of shoes, but I ruthlessly got rid of shoes. I felt free. I wasn’t tripping over them, I wasn’t having to work to keep them organized.
In that same way, I’ve been in the process of doing with fewer emotional pairs of shoes. I began by praying for Jesus’ eyes to see the truth about my identity, I prayed for His strength to de-clutter the shoes of my heart. He has been faithful to reveal to my soul the next emotional pair of shoes that needs to leave.
As I am dealing with less emotional baggage, I am feeling much freer in the expanse of His life. I am finding that my life has increased as I have whittled down emotional shoes. Where I once thought I had to hang on to something because it was such a part of me, I am finding immense freedom in getting rid of what I once thought me only to find myself and my identity in Jesus.
“More than that, I count all things to be loss in the view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” Philippians 3:8 (NASB)