I hate excess. My friends will tell you that I am on a never-ending quest to downsize. If my closet contains clothes that I routinely reject when choosing what to wear, I get rid of them. I am not deterred by such thoughts as, “These pants will fit after I lose some weight,” or “I paid too much money for this dress simply to give it away.” If in the course of a three-month season of the year I choose to wear, wash and re-wear the same five tops, slacks, capri pants, and dresses, my closet should contain 20 items. Do the math.
My kitchen has been streamlined to meet the same guidelines. I have no use for multiple sets of dishes, glasses or flatware. Having to reach around or un-stack 15 serving bowls in order to get to one of the three I always choose to use can send me into a panic attack. When it comes to certain household items, one is enough for any home: one melon baller, one yardstick, and one fever thermometer. No mosquito that gets into my house will escape death while I try to untangle one of eight fly swatters that are hanging on a single nail.
However, I have not completely mastered the art of minimizing. I check out more library books at a time than I can possibly read. No matter how many boxes of pretty greeting cards I own, when I visit Family Christian Store I come home with a new box of DaySpring cards. I have trouble resisting the urge to buy picture books and jigsaw puzzles for the grandkids, scented candles and oils for my house, and adorable fabric panels to be turned into baby quilts.
Plus, I tend to hang onto some bad habits despite the fact that they threaten to destroy my peace and damage my witness as a Christian. I make judgments about people. (Does that woman not realize that every single food item in her shopping cart is pure junk?) I hold grudges. (I’ll never forget the day she said to me, “It’s about time you did something different with your hair!”) I give priority to the wrong things. (I’ll play just one more game of Spider Solitaire and then I’ll do my Bible reading.) I am quick to speak and slow to listen. (“Don’t bother trying to explain. I already know what you meant when you said that.”)
At a deep level I know that less judging, less grudge-holding, and less procrastinating will result in my having more serenity, more friendships and more positive influence upon others. Yet, I have as much trouble eliminating bad habits as Lady Macbeth had in scrubbing blood off her hands. Try as I may, a trace of the evil remains, takes root, and eventually blossoms into full-blown ugliness.
I get tired of fighting the same battles over and over. Even if I managed to avoid saying mean things yesterday, I must wage a new war against gossip and criticism today. Why can’t ridding myself of bad habits be as easy as throwing out an old, bent spatula?