Rest in the mess

We recently moved. I never remember how much energy and work moving is until I’m knee deep in boxes trying to decide if I really need all my stuff or not. I end up having an internal monologue that goes something like this:

A: I could sell all my books. I don’t really need them.

A: But I love my books. They’re like my second children.

A: I’ll just get rid of more clothes. And toys. The kids don’t need this many toys.

A: But their friends need these toys. We have to entertain them somehow.

A: I’ll just bring vases and decorative stuff to Goodwill. We definitely don’t need 15 vases.

A: My mother-in-law gave me this vase. And I do love these 5 …

The debate goes on. And on. And on. My husband and I moved 5 times in our first 5 years of marriage. We didn’t collect or keep much in those early years. This move, however, we had settled in for a solid 5 years and a lot accumulates during that time. Right as we closed on our house and I started purging, I began to read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.


Some of it was over the top for my life right now. And some of it was SUPER helpful. For the first time in my life I had permission to get rid of stuff. And by stuff, I mean all the stuff I was holding onto that added nothing to my life: clothes, books, papers, trinkets. It was so freeing.

Then we moved.

For those who have recently moved or remember what it’s like to move, unpacking becomes a momentous and sometimes overwhelming task. I love to have a place for everything and it’s really hard for me to relax in the midst of boxes. It’s something I’m working on – being at rest in the mess.

As I unpacked and tried to find a home for all my stuff, I realized there were more things I could let go of, primarily books and clothes. It felt so good. I read some blogs about the 37 piece wardrobe and moms who took away all their kids toys (not really, but pretty close).

Then I saw one of my friends post this book: The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful. It came in the mail on Tuesday and by Wednesday I had read it from cover to cover.


This book was so good for my soul. It gave me permission to rest in the mess and to find beauty in the imperfect.

I think there are seasons when we take stock of our internal life to declutter and tidy up; it’s refreshing and healthy. Sometimes, in those seasons we can go overboard and get too introspective and hard of on ourselves. There is grace for us after we’ve gone through and sorted things out like bitterness, unforgiveness, and offense, to just rest. We get rid of all the stuff we don’t need and keep what is beautiful, and sometimes the most beautiful things in life are those things that aren’t perfect or those things that were once broken but have been repaired. We can rest in the mess knowing life doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful or happy.