I feel a big life change coming, and it has inspired me to get rid of stuff. This will happen in the form of a garage sale – even though I hated the only garage sale I ever held.
I just have a strong urge to purge! I find myself walking through my house, picturing it streamlined and clean - pared down to the things that I really want and need, and free from clutter and, well, STUFF.
Today’s project was an antique trunk in which I store old linens and curtains that I don’t really use, but have saved in case I might use them again some day.
It also contains bags of my children’s baby clothes and other sentimental items surrounding their infancy. Considering that my “baby” turned 5 last week, I felt that it was time to look through those things and see what I really wanted to keep. I had sorted some of the baby clothes before, so they were in neat Ziploc bags, and the name of the child with whom I most associated the outfit was written on the outside of the bag. Soon I came across this tiny outfit:
“Why is this in Ben’s bag?” I wondered out loud to myself.
Suddenly it occurred to me – this is the outfit he was wearing when we took him for a repeat blood test shortly after he was born. The initial test had some kind of problem, so we had brought him back to the hospital and watched as they pricked his little heel and squeezed blood stain after blood stain onto a card while my tiny boy cried. Since this is usually done in the hospital nursery before the baby is released, I had not witnessed the uncomfortable event before (or since), and I choked on the lump in my throat as I held back my own tears.
I looked out the window and watched this now bigger-than-me-boy throwing a bat (instead of a ball???) back and forth to a friend in our front yard and wondered why I would hold on to something that is attached to a painful memory for so long.
I’ve been thinking about it all afternoon.
Why do we hold on to things for so long?
We hold on to words spoken to us (even in our childhood), and continue to live as though those words were true. I remember a conversation I had with a new friend on the first Sunday that I sang in her church. I told her that my voice teacher in college said that I would never be a really great singer. Whenever I get up to sing, those words swirl around in my head…. and bring along an increased dose of nerves!
We hold on to the sins for which we are most vulnerable and tell ourselves that we are powerless to overcome them. Why, then, did Jesus die for our sins – if not to show us that He had power not only over death, but also in our lives?
We hold on to abuse and live as though we brought it on ourselves because, somehow, we deserved it. We seek out other abusive relationships because we still believe that somehow we deserve it.
We hold on to STUFF. Not only stuff that is attached to bad memories like the baby outfit, but also Stuff that is attached to good memories – like my desk.
About a dozen years ago, my husband bought me a roll-top desk because I’ve always liked them. The reason I’ve always liked them is because I loved my grandfather very much and he had one. I was fascinated by the many tiny drawers, and intrigued by the mystery of what could be in each of them.
I like my desk, but I no longer use a large desk-top computer, so the extra space has become a catch-all for papers needing my attention and books needing repair. It is also cumbersome, and difficult to move – which would not be much of a problem, except that the lower level of our home flooded this year, requiring multiple desk moves. I am starting to realize that I do not need a large piece of furniture to hold on to memories of my Grandfather – and a smaller piece could serve me quite well.
After all, isn’t that what our stuff is supposed to do?
To SERVE us. Not to keep our lives so busy maintaining it, that we miss out on important moments with our kids, or opportunities to serve God.
Truth be told, I spend way too much time with my stuff. Organizing it. Picking it up. Rearranging it. Picking it up. Dusting it. Finding places to put it. Cleaning it. Picking it up…
I am ready to do with a lot less stuff in my house, and free up some of my time for more worthwhile things.
I am ready for less junk in my heart, too.
I’ve been pondering what scripture tells us to hold on to and what to get rid of.
What to get rid of:
“…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles…” Hebrews 12:1
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” Ephesians 4:31
“Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit….” Ezekiel 18:31
What to keep:
“…hold firmly to the word of life…” Philippians 2:16
“…hold on to what is good…” 1 Thessalonians 5:21
“…keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience.” 1 Timothy 3:9
“…hold firmly to the trustworthy message…” Titus 1:9
“…hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.” Hebrews 3:6
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23
The Apostle Paul figured out how to evaluate what was important and what was not and he shared the secret with us:
“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him… , not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained."
This should help me to know what to keep and what to get rid of!
How about you – what have you been purging from your life lately? Feel free to leave comments about your own journey.