Tag Archives: cleaning

The Anti Nesting Instinct


We still have 8 month left of this term.  Itineration is still too far away to begin disengaging from responsibilities and friendships.  But I can tell that I’ve already begun to lean into the change.  How can I tell, you may ask?  I have noticed a purging impulse has been activated in me.  I call it “The Anti Nesting Instinct”.

When a mother is waiting for a baby to be born, she starts frantically putting the house in order in preparation for her new arrival.  The Honey-Do list starts to fill up with all those little household repairs that have been ignored for so many months or years.  Mom-to-be starts filling up the house with new purchases and organizing drawers full of teeny tiny clothing.  That’s The Nesting Instinct.

Photo credit: jamelah / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: jamelah / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

So, logically, The Anti Nesting Instinct involves purging, cleaning out, throwing out, and giving away things.  It is recognized in the peacefulness of gazing contently into a nearly empty closet.  Its joy is magnified with each new pile of possessions successfully delivered to its new owners.  My recycling bin runneth over.

Last Saturday I tackled my daughters’ bed room.  It was a hoarder’s paradise.  The amount of cardboard and paper that I hauled out of their room was horrifying.  The scraps of old craft projects, plastic bottles rescued from the recycling bin, and half colored pieces of paper were pretty much the only things holding up my middle child’s bed.  I removed 4 full garbage bags of pure trash from their room, a mountain of toys and books that they had grown out of, and another bag full of clothes to give away.  This morning my daughter told me that she’s been opening and closing her closet door just for fun.  I understand this since more than once this week I’ve stood gazing with satisfaction into their super clean and nearly empty closet.  I love an organized closet.

Yes, the urge to purge has even manifested itself in my work at school.  I am tackling disorganization, clutter, and an absurd amount of pure junk that has been stored here since Jesus was a small child.  I am busting through cobwebs and pawing through moldy boxes in search of anything useful for my teachers before I dump the contents of a whole cabinet in the recycling bin.  Clean is a beautiful moment.

So even though it’s really too early to start thinking about leaving on itineration, my emotions are releasing their connection to the things I live with.  I have a mental To-Do list with dates attached to each task.  I will tackle these projects one by one and whittle away the last few months before we must face the overwhelming task of packing up the house for storage.  The Anti Nesting Instinct has kicked in.

The Purge


Well, it’s post-Christmas and it’s time to find new homes for all those new Christmas presents that our kids received.  Try as we might, it is impossible not to accumulate stuff. I really do try to live a more spartan existence than most Americans simply because I don’t want to repack all my junk after a few years.  Moving a lot keeps you clean.  I hate clutter.

I’ve noticed in talking to other missionaries that our experience is not unique.  When the Lord was leading us into missions, the first indication that some kind of change was on the horizon was this strange “Urge to Purge”.  We suddenly started feeling like our possessions were bogging us down.  It was like having rocks in your pocket when you’re trying to fly.  Stuff was holding us down.

So I started giving stuff away… and it felt really good.  The more I gave my things away, the lighter I felt.  I was disconnecting myself from the things of this world.  I have always been a pretty practical girl, but now I became militant about practicality.  If something did not have a purpose, it had to go.

We had a big garage sale.  Turning your house inside out is a useful activity.  It forces you to confront the back of your closets.  For example, I didn’t think I had very many baskets but in emptying the closet I counted 20 baskets that had collected there- relics of gifts that people had given us.  TWENTY!!  Clearly I had lost track of my possessions a long time ago and didn’t even realize it.

This Urge to Purge is a common experience for soon-to-be missionaries.  I think it’s a survival mechanism that the Lord activates in us as He prepares us to be stripped of everything, starting with our possessions.  But the crazy thing is that it’s an amazing feeling!  Being freed from your STUFF is an experience that I would like to GIFT to everyone.  But it’s hard to convince people to let go.  Just because you have stuff doesn’t mean you are the owner of stuff- stuff can own YOU!

So now the work begins of finding space for the new Barbies and books that came home with us.  It’s a good chance to clean out the old things that the kids haven’t played much with this year.  I will be looking for a few sweet kids who would like to receive some gently used toys, and we will make our joy complete through giving.