I have always loved to read. As a toddler, I enjoyed listening to my mom read me fairy tales from those little Golden Books.
Reading was an escape from reality into a world of happily-ever-after where good always triumphed over evil. Even when life became too hectic with little time to read, I kept my books close.
Surrounding myself with these familiar characters, settings, and favorable resolutions comforted me and provided a necessary solace from life’s painful problems.
Multiple bookshelves, sometimes double stacked, gave me a sense of security and hope. If these stories could find happy endings through their conflicts, then perhaps I could, too.
However, I recently began to feel suffocated by these same shelves that once provided comfort. Perhaps I had come to realize that reading them “some day” was not going to happen; there are simply not enough “some days” to achieve that goal.
Or perhaps I had developed other interests to the point that I was not so dependent upon these stories to keep me grounded. In either case, I decided to sort and clean. In the end, I gathered eighteen bags of books to donate to local charities.
I did not feel regret nor sadness, but rather, I felt free. I now had space to breathe, to rest, and to create.
When I shared this story with a friend, she made the comment that I was “shedding.” At first I didn’t understand the analogy, but now I think it is perfect.
In the winter, our yellow lab grows a thick luxurious coat of fur. This allows him to frolic outdoors in the snow and to sleep undisturbed on stormy nights. I also enjoy his extra blanket of warmth as he sits in my lap during the evening news.
But this same fur coat loses all functionality in the heat of summer. What once kept him comfortable and secure, now makes him sluggish and miserable. If he did not shed the excess, he would eventually experience health problems, which if ignored could become severe.
Nature’s shedding is a way to remove old creature comforts that no longer serve their purpose.
Occasionally shedding some of our old habits and security blankets is an excellent form of self-care.
By objectively looking at our surrounding stuff, whether physical or metaphorical, we may discover these are not the true source of joy or happiness; in fact, perhaps it is this excess baggage that keeps us from becoming our authentic selves.
It is scary to think about letting go of what once protected us, accepted us or gave us hope. But as we shed those previous comforts, we can find the true source of unconditional love and acceptance.
God is the one who can help us find the warmth, security and peace we desire. And he is the one who can help us determine what our souls need to shed.
©2015 Molly Totoro
Molly Totoro is a writer and a recently retired English teacher who has a heart and passion for authentic living. She firmly believes “Everyone has a story to share” and is currently establishing a ministry, Milestone Memoirs, where she helps others discover and write their stories to impact future generations. Molly shares the importance of leaving a legacy at Stepping Stones Publications, and she frequently blogs at My Cozy Book Nook.