My purse is out of control.
My beautiful blue crocodile Kate Spade is so full of stuff and so heavy that once I sat my bag down in the passenger seat, my car flashed the seatbelt sign.
I knew it was getting heavy – a couple of times recently I’d caught myself rubbing my shoulder and thinking I needed to clean a few things out. But my car thinking my purse needed a seatbelt? Come on, now.
I really only carry a purse to keep up with 5 things – wallet, keys, phone, iPad, and lip balm. I came home and dumped everything out, and I found that my usual suspects had become surrounded by things that didn’t need to be in there and that I didn’t realize were in there. Additionally I found an alarming number of things I have no recollection of whatsoever, and I’m not entirely sure they are all my possessions.
Two things became clear to me:
(1) The hair ties we are constantly looking for at the very last minute on school mornings are all in the bottom of my purse.
(2) It’s time to make some changes. Specifically, to set some boundaries for what I am willing to carry around.
I’m carrying around everything from a blue stone I received as part of a sermon to remind us of our baptism to the official name-change papers I received 6 months ago now. My folder with the tax stuff. A couple of Audrey’s LOL Surprise dolls. Tootsie Rolls. An old device I need to drop at Best Buy for recycling. A Time’s Up lapel pin. A Virginia Beach Rocks rock. A small container of slime.
I think in part what happens is I have good intentions of getting some things done – so I put the dry cleaning receipt in a pocket in my purse but I don’t actually get by there for weeks. (Zoots may actually be out of business by now and I need to probably check on that.) And in part as I am cleaning up after others when we exit the car, I put things in my giant bag thinking I’ll put them in the trash or put them away when we get inside. In part I’m carrying around things I might need, like Advil or my iPad in case I want to write. And in part I’m carrying around sentimental things that I may not see every day but are there to make me smile occasionally.
Why am I carrying around so much stuff? The first thing I decided is that everything I carry around from now on is going to be because it is something I need or that brings me joy. I think of myself as not a Marie Kondo fan because at no point will folding laundry ever bring me joy. The first time I watched her fold clothes and talk about communicating her affection through her palms, it reminded me of the scene in The Silence of the Lambs where the serial killer rubs his palm over the back of the kidnapped girl. WEIRD. CREEPY. CRAZY.
Watch Marie Kondo fold: https://youtu.be/Lpc5_1896ro
But as I’ve read a little more about her and watched her a bit, I’ve realized that like her or not I have been employing her “does it bring me joy” method all around my house for the last few months. I’ve donated clothes that fit but that I rarely wear because I don’t love them. I’ve gotten rid of house stuff I like but maybe just isn’t right in that space anymore. I’ve dug up lilies around my yard because I want flowers only planted with love, and I’ve been trying to fill our living space with things that all have positivity associated with them. I may have even made this little KonMari step-hop when throwing a few things in the trash.
So what do I do about my giant purse? I’m not switching to a smaller purse. One, I don’t like small purses. And two, I feel like I should be capable of controlling what goes in my giant purse. Just because I have an oversized bag doesn’t mean I have to fill it with stuff. But more importantly, I need to constantly filter for junk and stop carrying around things that don’t bring me joy.
I started to wonder if my purse is a metaphor for my thought life. Maybe I’ve been wasting time entertaining thoughts that aren’t productive. Maybe I need to literally toss out thoughts just like I tossed out lilies. That’s why my current developmental sprint is to actively think about my thoughts and replace any negative thought I recognize with a specific positive affirmation, adapted from 2 Timothy 1:7.
The old King James reads: For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
But I like the Berean version better: For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but of power and of love and of calm and of self-control.
I decide what I think about. Just like I decide what goes in my Kate Spade. In addition to the usual suspects it’ll carry my gratitude journal, a gift from one of my besties, a small/medium-ish supply of Tootsie Rolls, and a star from an American flag that my Dad loved and carried in his pocket for quite some time. It’ll carry a photo of one of my favorite places, a hillside in Ohio where the earthly bodies of some of my great cloud of witnesses are buried, and it’ll carry the statement of faith Ella made last year about choosing to remember God loves us (and that reminds me she said “darn” in front of the whole church and I was so proud of her anyway).
For God did not give me a spirit of timidity, but of power and of love and of calm and of self-control.
God did not give us timidity. He gave us the opposite of timidity, and that’s bravery.