The Great Purge is underway. After 27 years of marriage and accumulating stuff, we’re unloading it. Well, about 75% of it. We’ve given (or will give) about half of our stuff to family, friends, and charity. Another 25% will stay with the house for use by the new owners. We’ll put most of the remaining stuff (some antiques, family heirlooms, and “meaningful nicknacks”) at my parents’ condo in Port Charlotte.
We’re not against stuff. We like stuff. I’m sure someday we’ll settle down and accumulate more of it. But for now, we’re just going to try to live for awhile without so much of it. Here’s why…
1. A lot of our stuff is no longer necessary. Books and old magazines that we’ll never read again. Dozens of Air Force plaques and mementos that have served their purpose. CDs we no longer listen to. Games we no longer play. Weights we no longer lift. Clothes we no longer wear. Kitchen roosters…dozens of them…that are lovely (really they are!)…but just seem to beget more roosters. You get the idea. If something hasn’t been used in a couple of years, it’s time to…let it go, let it go…
2. Stuff has a way of complicating our lives and draining our energy. It has to be maintained, dusted, transported, or at least stored. The more stuff we have, the more it ties us down. Without it, we’ll be more mobile and we can focus our energies elsewhere.
3. I suppose we’re transitioning into the “empty nest” phase. I remember earlier phases in our lives when we were growing a family, accumulating bigger and better things, and wanting bigger and better homes to store those things. That process is now in reverse…and it feels awesome! I recently had a conversation with a woman who is in the process of building her 5000+ square foot dream home. I was happy for her because she was happy. But I was so not envious of the required upkeep and maintenance of the house, yard, and all the stuff that would be in it. We’re just in a different phase.
4. Seems to me that when people reach the end of their lives, and look back on their lives, it’s not the accumulated stuff that matters. Instead, what’s remembered…what’s cherished…are the relationships and the memories. So, it seems wise at this stage in our lives to shift more energy to building relationships and making memories.
5. Finally, it’s worth noting that when Jesus sent out The Twelve, he instructed them not to take any money or bags or extra clothes. (Matthew 10:9-10) He wanted them to rely on the generosity of the people in the towns they visited. I think he also knew that material possessions…stuff…would drag them down and divert their attention from more important pursuits.
I wish I could say we’re as dedicated as those disciples…but we’re not. Not even close. We’re going to take some money with us. And a couple of bags. And enough hang up clothes to fill a 3′ wide RV wardrobe. And several books we’ve been wanting to read. And “the ashtray, this paddle game, and the remote control, and the lamp” (Navin Johnson, The Jerk, 1979). But maybe by downsizing a bit, we’ll be able to focus more time and energy on the “stuff” God has planned for us. At least that’s our theory. And if it doesn’t work out, we can always settle down and buy more kitchen roosters. – Big Steve
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