discover your created self

When to Let Go?

There’s an opportune time to do things . . . (Ecclesiastes 3:1 The Message)


When is an emotional question. That’s what came to mind today, as I continued my quest to clean out our storage area (ahem, the basement) of accumulated things. After fifty years of living, and almost thirty years of being a homemaker, wife and mother, things add up.

When did I get all this stuff? When will I get rid of some of it? These two questions return to me, during my perennial spring fling-athon!

Each year, I tell myself, this is it! This is the year, I will rent a dumpster and just get rid of it all! And this year, I really mean it. I won’t rent a dumpster, but day by day, I am going to take stuff to the trash can. Bag up things to donate. Get rid of years of paper mementos and doubles of photos and dusty cassette tapes and outdated music CDS and yes even, the Disney VHS movies. It’s time!

When means “at what time.”  When hearkens to the past. When foreshadows the future and can even mean, now!

When has its roots in who. (That has been the biggest surprise for me: who, what, where and when all originate from the same root word.) What, where and when impacts our who-ness.

The physical evidence in my basement not only shows what I have accumulated, but also taps into personal memories. And my reluctance to let go of stuff? It has a lot  to do with the emotional ties.

When reminds me that I raised two boys with my husband from infancy to manhood. When piles up with stored decorations for each holiday and season. When recalls that our sons have moved out, but a few of their belongings still linger. When blows the dust off stacks of books saved for someday, in which, I will read them again or for the first time. When remembers each gift lovingly accepted from friends and family over the years.

When I start sorting and rummaging and bravely putting these “whens” into boxes and bags to carry out, a deep grief overwhelms me. Seething anger for holding on so long to items that I no longer need, no longer use and no longer really want, except for the fact that they recall the memories. When will I release the items, and just cherish the memories? When will I let myself grieve and cry, and say good-bye to certain seasons?

When evokes a kind of grief mingled with shame. When and why did I buy some of this stuff? When did I think I was going to use some of it? When will I accept that the purpose of most of these items has been served?  After about an hour in the abyss of when, I stomped upstairs, angry that it was going to take more than a couple days and quite a bit of emotional energy to complete the task of letting go.

I threw myself on my bed and cried for awhile. To let the grief go; to let the stuff go. And although there’s still more to sort through, a sense of relief and acceptance moved into the space where anger and sadness had been wrestling.

How is when affecting your who-ness?



7 responses to “When to Let Go?”

  1. lynndmorrissey Avatar

    Kel….good for you. Good for you!….making the connection between letting go and grief. I thnk it’s real. But please don’t be too hard on yourself. Now is your when….when you are going to move on, but only WHEN you have had a chance to admit and express your grief. WHEN I started going through stuff, and I’m still not done, I asked myself HOW…HOW did I accumulate all this stuff…and WHY did I? No tme actually to answer those in-depth questions, b/c in the HOW and WHAT of working on our playshop….but wow, we may have another journaling class here. 🙂 Loved this transparent post, and it reminds me a bit of the one you solicited from me called Extravagant Vagabond. Keep remembering that God’s love for you is extravagant and covers a multitude of boxes!
    BTW, mike hired several dumpsters for his office a while back, and just dumped the entire 3rd floor storage. He has NO idea what had been in those files, collecting dust for over twenty years. People were horrified, but they don’t miss it. No one has ever asked for one of those files!
    Dumpsters here we come WHEN we have had time to grieve.
    Love you.

    1. Lynni- I love your reflections here on how, what, why and when…Thank you for your encouragement! I often wonder how much I might miss something…and a funny thing happened today, I almost did miss something that I planned to throw away.

      1. lynndmorrissey Avatar

        That happened to me too, when I found my father’s only written testimony of his coming to Christ….just a single sheet of paper midst a forest of papers! So glad for your find.

  2. Kel: I had a conversation with my pastor yesterday. I asked him if he had a study book on Philippians. He said he’d have to look. He also said he had to either purchase another book case or start getting rid of of some of his books. My comment to him was,”Pastor, when I have done that (getting rid of things,) I then need them.Seriously, we need to do this in order to get our house fixed up.

    1. Cecelia- You comment today struck me esp, how when we get rid of something and then we need it. I had that happen in a very round about way today. See today’s post!

  3. We have moved eleven times in forty-five years of marriage. Paring down our belongings (and those of three kids) became part of the packing process each time. Yes, I regret now a few things we let go over the years. But I still have many of the memories. As for those memories that have slipped out the back door because the memorabilia is gone, it’s OK. What I don’t remember can’t hurt me! You are so right, Kel: Grieving over the letting go is good, but the relief of order and uncrowded spaces is even better! P.S. Here’s a tip from my daughter that might be helpful. Take photos of the particularly sentimental items that no longer serve any purpose. She now has all of her trophies in a photo file–not on a shelf!

    1. Nancy- wow! That’s a lot of moves…and a lot of memories…great tip to take photos…I have scrapbooks with a lot of the memories!

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About Me

Hi! My name is Kel Rohlf. I am an intuitive mixed-media artist, creative writer and performer. Life is a performance. I often attend.


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