40 Bags in 40 Days

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season for Christians all over the world. Some years I approach Lent with a gusto, and plan and plot to make the season count. Other years, I’m sort of annoyed at the whole idea, reluctantly eat tuna on Friday, and go about my merry way.

In December 2010, I made a point to make Advent count. Last night, I was thinking about doing the same for Lent.

This morning as I was scrolling through my Facebook page, I came across a post on 4th Frog that gave me the Lenten inspiration I didn’t know I was looking for. No, I’m not giving up my couch like Amy is. I am, instead, focusing on the idea of 40 Bags in 40 Days.

The idea is simple — each day, focus on filling a bag (or box, or whatever) on things you no longer need. This could be a bag to pass onto a friend (kids’ clothes, hello), a box of items for Goodwill (do I need three slotted spoons? really? three?), or a bag for the trash (holey socks, old rags, even pillows die sometimes). On the surface, it appears to be a de-cluttering project in the name of Jesus.

I am hopeful that it will be so much more.

Think about how being weighed down by stuff feels. Right now, there’s a closet I’m avoiding because it’s unmanageable. It’s unmanageable because I haven’t gone through the toys the Fox has out grown. I’m holding onto toys he’s long forgotten about and has no use for. By facing them, I will a)create space in the closet for toys he does use and b) pass on the toys to children who will appreciate them (for 3.2 seconds, but hey, then it’s up to their mom to pass them on).  I will also eliminate the mental kick I give myself every time the kids go toward that closet,  and the cursing (sometimes mental, sometimes out loud) when I attempt to find something in there. And anytime there’s less cursing, well, I like to think I’m a little closer to God.

I’m hoping it will also be a chance to talk to the children about what I’ve been doing all along with their clothes (and to a lesser extent, their books and toys) — passing them on when they are done to someone who can use them. Every season I pass bags on to cousins and friends and my favorite family-friendly charity. (In addition to providing adoption services, the agency supports women who choose to parent, as well as families in the area who are struggling to provide for their children.) MaM is certainly old enough to become a part of this process, especially if we start with items she no longer likes.

My thought is that I will have no problem filling the first ten to twenty bags. After the half-way point though, I think the decisions are going to become a lot harder and a lot more personal. But that’s what Lent is all about, so I’m moving forward with the plan.

7 Replies to “40 Bags in 40 Days”

  1. I like it! I too have noticed that when I get rid of stuff, I feel lighter. What a great way to feel during Lent! Good luck with it!

  2. Also, just occurred to me: sandwich bags are bags too. 🙂 If you get to the end and run out of big bag-filling things…

  3. Great idea Michelle! I love Elizabeth’s idea of the baggies… that could come in handy by Holy Week!
    My lenten plan had to be something not based on being home or on denial of favorite foods (on vacation, it would be impolite to refuse chocolate, don’t you think??) So I came up with being kinder – vebally as well as mentally. So I’m biting back the somewhat unkind retorts that are usually on the tip of my tongue and giving everyone the benefit of the doubt as often as needed. Surely, that person didn’t mean to let the door close on my toe, or cut me off in traffic or whatever. I’m finding life is happier when you don’t bother reacting to all the little stuff that happens every day. Easy to do while on vacation – life’s pretty easy in sunny florida. The proof of the pudding will be those laast few weeks of lent at home…

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