Our basement is where all good things go to die. Chipped china, seasonal décor, outgrown tee-shirts, empty frames, cushion covers sans cushions. All well used and well loved for a season, all dying a slow death under a cover of dust and disuse.
“I’m going to put this in the basement for now” has become a family euphemism for the demise of something we once deemed essential. The set of dishes I never unpacked, yet insisted on shipping across the ocean three times during our two moves abroad. My son’s canary-yellow stuffed bird bearing scissor gashes lovingly repaired by uneven stitching. Piles of artwork representing 16 years of family life captured through the eyes and chubby fingers of our children.
Every six months, my husband and I decide we need to simplify and create space for our present life. We whirl through the basement, throwing away broken bits of forgotten electronics and gifting lamps or small pieces of furniture. But for the most part, we push our past farther into the corners. We can’t bear to give away things that once held meaning, wondering if someday they may do so again.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve become increasingly aware that my home mirrors my inner landscape. I want the public parts of me to look tidy and put-together, but deep down lies a graveyard of old habits, former belief systems, and buried stories I abandoned to the dark corners of my soul. I hide former desires, past hurts, and false constructions that hinder rather than help me. I hide dreams and goals that have outstayed their welcome. My soul is stacked with things that no longer serve me.
As I learn the art of release, I’m encouraged by the story of Joseph and his response to heaviness of the soul. He could have slipped into patterns of bitterness after being betrayed and rejected, but instead he practiced release and restoration, living out of his present circumstances rather than past pain. Joseph named his firstborn son Manasseh, meaning, “God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household,” and his second son Ephraim, which means “God has made me fruitful.” Joseph chose to release the dreams he once held like gems in the palms of his hands, and God replaced them with a future.
My soul is stacked with things that no longer serve me.
God offers redemption for the chipped, broken, and worn-out parts of me, too. It’s time to rename those hidden parts and release what no longer breathes life into my present. Time to ask myself where I’m bearing fruit and to use pruning shears on the branches bearing none. In Philippians, Paul writes, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6). Part of this perfecting involves releasing the past in order to receive the present. Only then can I make space for the fullness of the future.