Thursday, February 6, 2014

Stuff Rules

Downsizing from a three bedroom house to a small one bedroom apartment is difficult.  Especially when "stuff" rules. 

I'd like to think I'm a pretty organized person.  I enjoy lists, plans, timelines, etc., but my dirty little secret, as it turns out, is that I'm addicted to stuff. 

I'm addicted to stuff.

I thoroughly enjoy finding purposes for items that they may not have been intended for.  I love finding a use for something that is completely odd and weird (kind of like me - see my post "Odd is Beautiful").  I'll turn that paper grocery bag into a serving dish, those boxes of film reels into a bedside table, and that empty vase flipped over and filled with funky pipe-cleaners as the base of a lamp.  "Oh, yeah, I'll take that bag/box of (insert useless items here).  I can do something with that."  Yep.  I'm that person.  Not always are the items useless, though.  My grandma gave me a huge bundle of vintage skinny belts and I have used them as bracelets (but how many bracelets does one need?) and even as belts (shocker).  I had every intention of making something out of the rest of them.  But as I remind myself, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." 

So going through every box, bag, trunk, chest, shelf, drawer, cabinet, bin, purse, pocket, jewelry box, etc., adds another paver to that road, more paper to the recycle bin, more trash into the landfill and more stuff to the garage sale.

I have been struggling intensely with the idea of downsizing and getting rid of stuff.  My thought is always, "Maybe I'll need it later."  And I have always easily justified it as a way of being a good steward of what I am given and being responsible with money.  I tell myself that if may not need it now but if I do need it at some point then I don’t have to spend the money to buy it.  How could that be wrong? 
 "Maybe I'll need it later." 
Have you ever read the story about the guy who has this awesome land which produces such an abundant harvest that he tears down his tiny barns and builds huge ones to store it all?  He is keeping it all so that he has all he needs for several years and can sit back and just enjoy life.  Smart guy!  Except for the fact that he dies the next day.  I've read that story a hundred times - studied it and been taught about it and the lesson that is always shared about it is that the guy was stingy - he was all about himself - didn't share it with anyone, kept it for himself and died a selfish, selfish man.  Makes sense. 

But as I reread that story, I realized I was doing the exact same thing as that man did.  I was keeping things around so that I wouldn't have to worry about how I was going to be provided for later.  I was securing my future and masking it with stewardship and responsibility.  After all, couldn't one argue that the man was just being responsible for his future?  The lesson I learned is this:  I have given my life to Jesus and I say that I trust Him with every aspect of my life.  He has done miraculous things in my life, in the practical and the spiritual.  But in this thing I am telling God that He isn't enough for me.  That "stuff" still rules a part of my life.  Letting go and getting rid of things is a gesture of my faith in Him.  It's incredibly clear to me. 

  I was securing my future and masking it with stewardship and responsibility.

So I will trudge along, discarding piles and piles, and after that, discarding more piles and piles, dishes, furniture, cd's, clothes, jewelry, more furniture, and even more stuff. 

I want to trust God entirely.  I know I'm not alone when I say I lack faith.  And for me, this purging of stuff, is a test in faith.  To trust that God will take care of what I need, not what I may need and that memories are not wrapped up in things.  He graciously reminded me:  " does not consist in an abundance of possessions."  I want that life.


  1. I agree with much of this, but then I also think, doesn't God expect me to be thoughtful and wise as well? I know God will protect and provide for me in many ways, but I would never test that thought, lol. I, too, tend to save some 'frivolous" parts and bits like screws and such. Meh ... most I may not use, but other times I was grateful I kept them. But, I did learn one rule about moving and holding onto "stuff"... if you haven't touched it in a year, get rid of it (except for the heirlooms of course). No, no fancy rhyme there, just good common sense. Good luck in your moving endeavors. :)

  2. I know what you mean, Nick. I do think God expects us to be thoughtful and wise. This "endeavor" for me has been a real test of my faith. I know it's not a universal test of faith, but I've let stuff - and that "What if" mentality - rule me for so long it seems to have turned into a sort of idol for me (depending on self). So it's definitely not something I think applies to everyone, but it has certainly opened my eyes in how I take things into my own hands. My thoughtful and wise turned into a "I don't need anyone, including God, to provide for me". And thank you so much for the great advice!