by: Kerri Young
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal….” Matthew 6:19 ESV
I’ve been thinking a lot about stuff this week. Literally. Maybe it’s because we are preparing to move out of the country and have to get rid of a good portion of our belongings. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent the last two weeks going through out-grown Fall/Winter clothes and old toys to get them ready for the Rhea Lana Consignment Sale going on here in my town. Maybe it’s because I just finished reading “Little House on the Prairie” with my daughter and was struck by how quickly they were able to gather up all their belongings in one morning and fit them in the back of a covered wagon. (It is NOT going that quickly for us. We’ve been working on paring down since March and I feel like we’ve haven’t even made a dent!)
Whatever the case may be, I’ve been thinking about stuff. Today I’m thinking about the sentimental stuff. Like all the cute clothes from each of my children that I have kept in plastic tubs “just in case” (No, I haven’t kept every item of clothing…but I did keep a lot). Like the hundreds of dried roses from special events or special people in my life collecting dust in vases that are collecting dust on top of my china cabinet. Like the brochures, plane tickets, show stubs, etc. I have kept from our honeymoon and other trips we’ve taken that are all piled in a box in a closet upstairs. Like every picture my oldest colored, every worksheet she brought home with a smiley face on it, and every card she has ever made. Like the business suits and bridesmaid dresses hanging in my closet that I will never wear again and have been saving for….who knows what?
I have SO MUCH STUFF lying around my house because I guess I tend to be kind of sentimental. (Am I the only one?) As we are faced with the daunting task of sorting through all our belongings and getting rid of most of them before we move overseas in the Spring, I find myself feeling a little anxious when I start to consider parting with some things. The thought of giving away the battered and torn — the cover has been ripped off – copy of “Goodnight Moon” that we used to read to my daughter every single night at bedtime from the time she was born until she was two seriously gives me the shakes and makes me feel sick to my stomach. But, why?
I had a great conversation with someone last week that really helped me put some perspective on this whole process of letting go of “stuff”. She and her husband moved to a new, smaller home last year after over 20+ years of raising a family in a larger home. In the process of moving, she actually touched each thing they owned before putting it in a box, throwing it out, or giving it away. She purposefully got rid of as much as she could, including items that belonged to her deceased mom, because they could not fit all their possessions into their new home. When she started the process she felt sick about it, but then someone encouraged her that just because you throw or give something away it does not mean you are erasing the memory or the person who goes with it.
I don’t know about you, but to me there is something tremendously freeing in that concept. Throwing the dried roses from my Granny’s memorial service away will not erase the memory of the celebration of her life that took place that day, or the hundreds of cherished memories of times we spent together. Getting rid of the plane tickets from our honeymoon will not make me forget the magical, fairy-tale moments of that sunset dinner on the beach in Kauai or the precious, giddy, newness of our married life together. And not keeping every single one of my daughter’s preschool hand-painted artwork masterpieces will not take away from the sweetness that she was at age three and still is today.
Whether you’re preparing to move or just feeling overwhelmed by the amount of stuff cluttering up your peace of mind and living space, I encourage you today to think through what things to which you might be unnecessarily clinging. Don’t wait until the task is so formidable that it seems better to just give up and every, single, possible space in your house is full of something. Give yourself permission to throw things out, and go for it. I’ll pray for you to have the strength to let go if you pray for me! =)
Be sure to check back on Wednesday when I will be posting some helpful tips on how to begin the process of letting go of “stuff”. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions or ideas please feel free to leave them in the comments section.