• Lauren Michelle Dowler

THE DICHOTOMIES OF LIFE- A TIME TO KEEP & A TIME TO THROW AWAY




Over the course of this past year, I’ve been rummaging through my closet, under my bed, searching my cupboards, and even sifting my MacBook for things to get rid of. Spring cleaning lasted all four seasons spilling over into 2021. Inwardly I knew that change was on the horizon, and I suppose like a pregnant woman in nesting mode, I felt the urge to prepare.


What I didn’t know was that less than a year later I would be working full time, developing a company, going to grad school all while desiring to persevere and finish my book. Sometimes it’s not until we’ve reached full capacity- be it a full closet, or a full schedule that we realize the importance of letting things go.


The author of Ecclesiastes writes,

“To everything, there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven… a time to keep and a time to throw away...” (3:6)

This diochotemy can be overwhelming because it involves decision making but ultimately- it’s liberating.


Have you ever tried to take a photo only to have the box “iPhone Storage Full” come across your screen? Oh, it’s the worst!!!! It feels like you missed a moment!

It goes on to read, “You can free up space on this iPhone by managing your storage in Settings”. You then have a decision to make, and quite frankly, it’s more like an ultimatum. Managing storage in settings, is simply another way to say, delete something. Photo- or no photo?


With a schedule potentially more packed than ever before I’m finding it imperative to prioritize and sift through my stuff. My plate is full, and like walking through a buffet line there simply isn’t room for mash potatoes. Getting rid of clothes an


d household items is one thing, and it does help clear up mental space, but I’ve also had to evaluate time management, friendships, and heart matters.


Marie Kondo, a legend when it comes to helping people declutter their lives uses this simple question to help clients sort through a mess-

“What sparks joy?”

How many things do we hang onto in life that simply don’t spark joy? I do realize that some things are indispensable, but what is your power to control? AKA- self control.



God has not given us a spirit of fear, but power, love and self control. (2 Timothy 1:7)


What is in your power to keep, and what is in your power to throw away? Be sensible of course. A full plate can lead to heightened emotions and irrational thinking. It is helpful to have a sounding board in the sifting process- maintaining connection with God and with others is crucial.



See, the goal is to avoid burn-out. Pushing the envelope and trying to do everything can be counterproductive, even leading to costly repercussions. As I’ve shared in the past, I’ve experienced burn-out before, and I don’t want to cross that line again. To be vulnerable, in the last month due to a string of events, many of which were out of my control, I’ve been awfully close. Even so, I’ve had to zoom out to gain perspective, know when to ask for help, and know when to say no.



Boundaries are key to helping us solidify lines that we are unwilling to cross. Henry Cloud, the author of the book Boundaries says,


“Boundaries help us keep the good in and the bad out. Setting boundaries inevitably involves taking responsibility for your choices. You are the one who makes them. You are the one who must live with their consequences. And you are the one who may be keeping yourself from making the choices you could be happy with.”

If you’re at maximum capacity, it’s vital to gain perspective. Zoom out and ask yourself,


“What things on my plate are merely hoarding space, and draining me?”


And,


“What things are healthy, filling me with life and energy?


Remember, we want to keep the good in and the bad out.


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