Growing up Lutheran in a small town that seemed equal parts Protestant, equal parts Catholic, I never thought one was better than the other. I understood we basically believed the same things. In elementary school, I was jealous of the Catholic kids for two reasons though. They got to meet the kids from the other two small elementary schools in town when they attended CCD class, and they gave up stuff for Lent.
Actually I wasn’t jealous of the giving up stuff part, I just wanted the ashes on the forehead that symbolized the sacrifice — usually giving up chocolate or being mean to siblings. I had no desire to give up chocolate or being mean to my siblings, but everyone made a big deal out of the kids with ashes. I wanted that attention. I’ve never given up anything for Lent, but that’s about to change.
This year I’m giving up stuff for Lent, literally. Someone pointed me to the White House Black Shutters blog and the 40 Bags in 40 Days Decluttering Challenge that begins the first day of Lent. Blogger Ann Marie is “decrapifying” her life during Lent, and she invites others to do the same.
Every day from Ash Wednesday through the Saturday before Easter, the challenge is to pick one area and declutter it. There are no specific rules, just focus on “one.spot.per.day.”
I NEED this challenge. In fact, I think I’ve been gearing up for it without realizing it. I recently joined two local Facebook yard sale groups, hoping to score a twin captain’s bed for one of my boys. When I discovered a couple of pairs of outgrown kids’ snow boots in the back of a closet right before a snowstorm, I became a seller.
What to do with your stuff
Ann Marie encourages this responsible way to get rid of your stuff. She doesn’t suggest you throw it all in the trashcan. During last year’s challenge, she wrote a post on What to do with your stuff, and she recommended joining local Facebook groups like the ones I've joined, as well as donating items, selling items to consignment stores, and selling on Craigslist or eBay, along with a long list of other ideas. The garbage is a last resort.
If you’ve already paired down your belongings to the bare minimum, there are suggestions for decluttering the non-stuff areas of your life like your email inbox or digital photos.
I have a bad habit of joining these challenges and not completing them. Remember the #365Grateful photo challenge from 2014? I had such good intentions. I made it about a third of the year before I stopped doing it. I recently joined a money challenge from another blog and quit because the assignments weren’t what I was hoping they’d be.
I’m determined to see this challenge through to the end. I already have the first 17 spots I’m going to tackle picked out. The photo below is the shelving that sits behind my desk. I’m going to tackle one cubby a day, plus the top. I’m starting small, I know, but that makes it manageable.
I reached out to Ann Marie yesterday to let her know I’d be telling my readers about her 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge, but I haven’t heard back from her yet. That’s understandable. There are over 9,000 members on the official Facebook page, so she’s probably fielding questions from many people.
On her blog, she invites everyone to join her. I've accepted the invitation, and I’m passing it on to all of you. Wouldn’t you much rather give up clutter instead of chocolate for Lent?