It’s March 27, 2017
Due to an emergency, Kathi is unable to do her scheduled Facebook LIVE with the Clutter Free Bible Study group and asks if I’ll fill in.
“If you don’t have any areas of clutter struggle any more, ” she says as only the Queen of Positivity can, “maybe you can tell them about your past challenges.”
“Oh, I’m sure I’ll think of something!” I assure her, glancing guiltily around my office.
During the Facebook LIVE, I show everyone my greatest clutter struggle: the many ways I preserve my ideas.
- A shelf lined with 2 inch binders labeled “Blog Post Ideas #1” … “Blog Post Ideas #2” … “Blog Post Ideas #3″…
- File boxes full of hanging file-folders stuffed with notes from in-process book proposals and retreat messages.
- Stacks of printed drafts (I live in terror of losing digital data, so I hav a printing compulsion) from the months when Kathi and I were writing Overwhelmed: 1st draft, 2nd draft, 10th draft.
- Notebooks from the various writing and speaking conferences I’d been to, dating back before 2010.
“They’re all so beautifully organized and labeled, Cheri!” someone comments.
“Aren’t they?” I agree.
“Which is exactly what has allowed me to justify keeping all this stuff. After all, if it’s color-coded, labeled, and organized in binders, certainly it’s not clutter…right?!?”
My sarcasm evokes laughter, and then we all fall silent in communal conviction.
Just because our stuff looks good does not mean we should keep it.
What Size is Your Plate?
In Overwhelmed, Kathi describes each person’s individual capacity in terms of “the size of your plate.”
Most women have dinner plates—an average capacity for activity and productivity.
A few have turkey platters and can accomplish 2-3 times as much as most people.
I, on the other hand, have a small plate. As a highly sensitive person, I am extra easily overwhelmed.
“Does all this stuff in my office match up with a small plate person?” I ask the Clutter Free Bible Study group members.
No way, they all agree.
All the binders and boxes and stacks match someone with a turkey platter.
A hard truth hits me, smack dab in the middle of Facebook LIVE:
Hanging onto so much stuff is a form of greed stemming from distrust.
Protecting my precious ideas is me saying, “God, I don’t trust you to remind me of what’s important.”
And ultimately, hoarding my ideas is my way of trying to stretch my plate.
I never wanted a small plate. I’ve always wanted a turkey platter. So I’ve surrounded myself with “evidence” that “proves” my preferred truth.
It’s my way of saying, “Look! I have all this! If I have so much, I must have a really big plate!”
Bottom line: I’m keeping an office full of stuff so that I can prove God wrong.
Learning to Trust God
After the Facebook LIVE I look around my office with new eyes.
I’ve worked so hard to protect all my precious ideas, but I have far too many to use.
I need to trust God to choose.
I need to believe that God will help me remember the ideas I need when the time comes. Or trust that He’ll give me something new.
Either way, it’s time to quit pretending I have a bigger plate than I do.
I need to accept the size of my plate and let most of this stuff go.
My stuff needs to match the truth about who God created me to be.
Cheri Gregory is a teacher, speaker, author, and Certified Personality Trainer. Her passion is helping women break free from destructive expectations. She writes and speaks from the conviction that “how to” works best in partnership with “heart, too.”
Cheri is the co-author, with Kathi Lipp, of The Cure for the “Perfect” Life and the upcoming Overwhelmed.
Cheri has been “wife of my youth” to Daniel, her opposite personality, for twenty-eight years and is “Mom” to Annemarie (25) and Jonathon (23), also opposite personalities.
Cheri blogs about perfectionism, people-pleasing, highly sensitive people, and hope at www.cherigregory.com.