Lessons From the Junk Drawer

Our family moved to a new house this summer. I found that even with the most diligent planning and careful packing, there will still be things lurking in the recesses that I have to deal with. I can’t sweep things under the rug when I have to roll it up and pack it away.

I had a wonderful opportunity to write this essay as a guest post for Maeve Gerboth, as she awaited the arrival of her baby. Here is an excerpt.


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I tell myself “I’m an organized person” as I pull out the kitchen junk drawer and dump its contents into a moving box. Items clatter into the box in one haphazard heap, and I’m disappointed because I have run out of time to make this box look as tidy as the other ones.

I’ve become addicted to the zen-like repetition of wrapping glass stemware in newsprint, slotting them in a satisfying grid. In contrast, this rattly box, with metal bits poking out in disarray, is like fingers on a chalkboard to my inner neat-freak. Sarcastic and brutal, I reprimand myself for falling short.

And you call yourself organized.

An organized person probably doesn’t even have a junk drawer.

My self-esteem in tatters and the idea of a perfectly executed move flying out the window, I resort to disheveled packing in a last-minute frenzy. The big U-Haul truck is here to move everything to our new house, and my kitchen still has a bunch of stuff in the drawers and food in the fridge.

Up till now, I purged unnecessary items before I packed them to prevent storing things we didn’t need in our new house. I gave myself time to choose the things I lovingly nestled in paper padding, leaving behind anything that didn’t make the cut. Every item that made it into those first boxes I knew was and would continue to be useful in the next season. As I watched moving boxes fill and stack neatly in the basement, brimming with utility, none of it junk, satisfaction grew in my heart. When the boxes towered, I patted myself on the back for being so good and organized.

Yes, I am an organized person, those boxes proved it.

Now here I am packing the junk drawer with no organization, or intentionality, or scrutiny. It is full of stuff I don’t know what to do with–an appalling pockmark on my smooth packing operation. It is the bane of my existence, and I just want to shove it into the darkest corner I can find, shut the door, and pretend it never existed. It is my dirty laundry on parade shouting that I am a fraud.

How can I profess to be an organized person and be packing up a box of junk like this?

As the items skitter past me into one aggregated pile, I wonder where in the world I got the crazy idea that moving could be perfect? I’ve struggled with perfection for a long time. Mostly, it is an inner battle about the way I look and act being good enough, but this was a whole new level of perfectionism: perfect moving boxes. In a moment of clarity, I realized the junk in my kitchen drawer was not the only junk I was carrying around.

The confining ideas I held onto in my heart kept me from just living my life, and in this case packing my boxes imperfectly without a heap of shame on top, to just get the job done.

All I really long for in my soul is peace, not perfection.

For the rest of the story visit here.


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