Managing Our Stuff

Gratitude Day 259

Wed., Apr. 24, 2019

Matthew 6:21 – For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

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It’s just a few boxes of things. But it sure feels good to have them in the car and ready to be dropped off at a thrift shop.

During Lent this year, I challenged myself and others to participate in a “40 for 40 this Lent.” The idea was simple. Find 40 things to donate or give away during the 40 days of Lent.

With Lent over, these things are ready to donate. I didn’t count how many items there are. My approach was more about letting things go so these items can bring joy and happiness to someone else than a specific number.

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There’s a little more to the story. Would you like to hear? Good.

When Hubby Rick and I moved to our current house, it was a hot and muggy August day. We pulled up in a U-Haul truck stuffed to the gills. People from one of the churches that I was serving were present, ready to help unload. As these people gracious hauled box after box, item after item, from the truck into the house that would soon be ours, I was appalled. I could not believe how much stuff I had. I was embarrassed and mortified these people were hauling all of my “stuff” on this very hot day.

I vowed to get rid of a lot of stuff before we moved again.

Fast forward to today. It’s been three-and-a-half years. We’ve hosted two church garage sales at our house … for the sole reason that I didn’t want to haul the things I wanted to donate to another location. I’ve purged and gone through things. I’ve thrown away, given to family members and made countless trips to thrift shops. Still, I keep finding things that I can let someone else enjoy. Items that I can let go and work towards my goal of having less things in our home.

What are a few lessons that I’ve learned along the way? Curious? Grab a cup of coffee or some peach iced tea. Here we go.

  1. When your stuff “owns” you, you have too much stuff. And your relationship with your stuff needs a do-over. As embarrassed as I was with all this stuff moved into our current house, I am just as embarrassed by how much time I have spent dealing with stuff since we moved. Some of this stuff wasn’t mine. It was my Mom’s and my grandmothers and other relatives. Nonetheless, someone needed to go through this stuff. My Mom placed a lot of value on her things. I have things that I really enjoy. However, I do not want “things” to become more important than relationships. “Stuff” is not more important than memories.
  2. The more stuff we have, the more time it takes to manage our stuff. As I go through my relative’s things, I remind myself that I don’t want someone to repeat this exercise with my stuff someday. I want to make it manageable now. And maintain this. I want to spend less time in the next period managing stuff. Instead, I want to enjoy other things. Yes, there will always be some level of managing our stuff. But I clearly want to move on.
  3. If we have lots of “stuff” in one area of our live, most often, we have more “stuff” in other areas of our lives. Why do we hang onto certain things? What is the root reason why keeping so much is necessary? Is there an underlying reason? When we can release ourselves of things, then we might find freedom in other areas of our lives as well.
  4. I want to keep perspective of “things” and “stuff.” I pray these things never become more important than relationships in my life. I pray that faith and witnessing to my faith are higher on the pecking order than what cool items I have in my house. While I enjoy having things that mean something to me and that I love, things should not have a higher priority than the true treasures in our lives.
  5. Resources are available with ideas about how to deal with our stuff. But it also has to make sense to us. I’ve read books about decluttering and eliminating stuff. Recently, I listened to Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” Marie is known expert on this topic. Some of her tips were helpful, like, “Hold something in your hand. If it doesn’t bring you joy, get rid of it.” She suggests dealing emotionally easier items first. Marie says once a person goes through their house, they will never have to go through this process again. I’m not convinced of this. Over time, my tastes have changed. What I love has evolved. What brings me joy today is not the same as a number of years ago. Marie challenges people to go through their things as quickly as possible. This maybe helpful for some and overwhelming for others. There can be great joy in even cleaning out one drawer. Sometimes, I have been diligent in going through things. Other times, I’m not in the right mental place.
  6. Never underestimate how something you give away can benefit someone else. A number of years ago, a woman at the church I was serving shared how a friend’s mother had lost everything in a tornado. She only had the clothes on her back. This woman was a little heavier-set and knew finding clothes her size might be challenging. My Mom had recently lost weight. She had a closet full of clothes I suggested she donate to this woman. As we went through her closet, she found it difficult to let some things go. I encouraged her to think of how these items might benefit the woman who had nothing. We sent off two large boxes of clothing. About a week later, I received a touching note from the recipient. She could not believe how the clothes fit her so perfectly. How had we thought to send pj’s and coats? She was overwhelmed and extremely grateful for all the items.

Whether you pulled together 40 items during Lent or not, thing about your stuff. What is your relationship with your things? Do you hang onto things for the wrong reason? Can you bless someone else with items you no longer love or use? How would freeing up more time instead of managing your possessions feel?

In the end, it’s a stewardship question. Are we willing to let ourselves and our stuff be used for God’s kingdom? If we treasure our things more than we treasure witnessing to those around us, then our hearts may not be in the right spot.

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While I’m still working through some of the “stuff” I have, I feel like I’m getting to a more manageable state. What I haven’t tackled yet? Some more photos and all the electronic files. I try to celebrate the “wins” versus what still looms before me.

Most importantly, I pray that my heart is in the right place. I want my treasures to be more than “stuff.” I pray my legacy isn’t a house full of things that couldn’t go to the cemetery with me.

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For learning to let go of things and focus on the true treasures in my life, I am grateful.

Lord God – we live in a country with so much abundance. Isn’t it a little crazy how so many have all this stuff to deal with and others who have so little? May we find joy in releasing things to those who can benefit from things that no longer bring us joy and happiness. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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