Thursday, May 29, 2014

Sentiment v. Obsession

14. 6. 4. 3. 9. 4.

I play this game with friends of mine sometimes. Well, it isn’t a game. It is my toying with their memories and forcing them to make random connections with numbers and events. Today, these are the numbers of significance to me. I am packing my house to move. We will be changing states. We will sell our home and relocate to a rental as we embark upon a new journey. We will take with us necessity and probably then some. However, that is the problem. How much “then some”? We are a family of volume. No, I am not talking about people. There are currently 4 of us with 2 legs and 3 of us with 4 legs – this 4-legged number will most likely decrease upon moving day as well. Some of the members of the 2-legged collection are not a fan of the fluffy feline…so he might find a new place to purr.

Fourteen times I have packed my belongings and moved them. Fourteen times I have surmised the surroundings and determined what qualified as important enough to join me on the next leg of my journey. Fourteen times I have moved my closet. Fourteen times I have moved my cosmetics and favorite blankets. Fourteen times I have moved my pillow and books. Fourteen times I have redecorated and prioritized. Fourteen times, I have purged – Yes, believe it or not, each time, I do purge. But even though it sounds like we move as often as a military family, I still keep accumulating insurmountable piles of, well, crap.

I don’t think I am a hoarder, but I will definitely tell you that it is in my bloodline. Here is the thought process that goes through my twisted little mind. “Will I use this, need this, want this in the next home? How frequently have I used it in the past 2 years? If I have not used it, why? Will anyone else in the family benefit from it? Can I use it for an art and craft in the classroom or for my two children? Can I give it to anyone? Who? When? How?” I answer yes more often than I should. That is my problem.

Often, I have found myself keeping things with a great hope of adding it to a scrapbook. I have been married almost 14 years and my oldest is 9 years old. I desperately want to sit down and put together a draft of the life we have lived together thus far, but in 14 years, it has not happened. So, yep, I have tons of movie stubs, brochures from theme parks, arts and crafts, and more. My other problem with random piles of junk is my husband’s job status renders us paralyzed with fear from the tax world as he is self-employed so to speak. So I KEEP EVERYTHING that has to do with finances. I am petrified of not having proper documentation of the needed goods or proof.

And then there are sentimental items beyond Disney World fast passes and birthday cards. There are little kitchen gadgets bought by my mother for me before she passed. There are books given to me by students during student teaching. There are dresses I wore to a formal in college. There are knick knacks given to me by neighbor in years gone by. There are items constructed by a grandfather who has already reached glory. So the boxes stack and the boxes stack.

Purging is so necessary for forward progression. But what is kept? Sentimental items are always excusable, but you can make anything sentimental. I mean, what about that napkin you used last night while at dinner with your family. It was the napkin you used the last time your family ate at Zaxby’s on the last Wednesday in May at the end of their 3rd grade year. Ignore the honey mustard stains though because that only adds to the memories. I only tease as I have been there and am desperately trying to place myself on a therapeutic regiment of recovery.

As a family, we are relocating to house number 6, and I promise you it will not be our last. Did I mention that I have changed teaching classrooms 8 times in all of our moves? Just a few weeks ago, I filled 4 large garbage cans full of stuff and donated another 4 garbage cans worth of material to the rest of the faculty as I cleaned out my classroom for this new adventure. I still have a ton of boxes that I brought home with me. It is amazing how much you can accumulate in such a short amount of time.

We have nine days until we depart. In nine days, I am determined to prioritize what needs to be released for the betterment of other people. By donating my stuff to various charitable venues, I am allowing others to benefit from these items. That is one of the last questions I have recently added to my purging questionnaire. “By keeping this item in my possession and continuing to leave it unused, who am I failing to bless – or rather, allow God to bless – by allowing dust to settle upon it once more?”

But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in Him? 1 John 3:17

That is probably the most convicting one I force upon myself. You see, there is tons of scripture about storing up treasure here on earth, but it isn’t just about that. In our storing, what are we seeking to accomplish? If we are saving money to pay for college, than that is noble and worthy. If we are saving clothes to pass along to the next child as we wait for them to reach the size, than I see nothing wrong with that either. If you are saving a broken mixer or a dull knife simply because of the giver, why? If you are saving 4 pairs of the same black heels because each was bought for a different wedding you were chosen to participate, why?

Three piles are the suggested method for cleaning – keep, give, trash. I have 3 organizations that I have piles for, so my give stack alone is divided 3 ways. I have to do this for 4 different people as well.

Purging is also cleansing. It feels like weight being lifted off of you when you have less to be responsible for in your journey. It is the difference between running free and running with a yoke over your shoulders. It is not merely the weight of the material in literal form, but the emotional and mental weight of the magnitude given to the value of these items that are causing the sluggish movement. I am not saying to throw everything away and become a transient who lives out of a backpack. However, make sure the great effort you are placing on things here to preserve is not consuming your life in a way that prevents you from giving effort to the preservation of eternal life for yourself and for those with whom you are given responsibility and influence.

This message is a “sermon” for me. I am about to embark upon even greater purging and I pray you partner with me in the need to spread our blessings to others. May today be as freeing for you as it will be for me. Grab a garbage bag and go!

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