It’s Just Stuff
A few years ago I encountered a woman who caused a turning point for me and my regard for things. She and her husband ran a guest house that was often filled with youth sports group retreats. I used their industrial kitchen and baked my friend a cake for her birthday. Unfortunately, the cake got rather stuck to her pan. Since I wasn’t able to get it out of the pan without destroying it, I had to cut the cake right in it, thus causing irreparable damage.
Apologetically, I went to her and begged forgiveness. And she astounded me with her response.
“It’s just stuff.” she said and shrugged it off.
She wasn’t just being polite when she said that either. I know this because she’s German. Germans aren’t overly polite… ever.
She kept going and said, “I can’t take it with me when I leave this world, and I can always get more things.”
I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around that thought. Of course I knew that her words were her paraphrased version of what’s in the Bible. But I still held on tight to my feeling that when it’s wrecked, it’s the end of the world.
Her three simple words started me on a different trajectory though. This has helped me rethink my attitude when (especially) my children break my things. It’s just stuff.
It can be replaced, and I can’t take it with me when I die anyway.
Who or What Do you Love More?
Last week we packed up our whole home and moved into a storage unit. We will be living out of suitcases for the next seven months until we move country. I’ve spent the last three months going through all of our things and trying to decide if I should sell it, keep it, trash it, or give it away.
But only six months ago I was struggling with the idea of even moving to a different country and giving up my beloved Amazon Prime, and the fantastic German postal system. I have four little kids at home, so I take no pleasure going out to the store and buying things. I’d rather use my phone and computer and have it delivered to me.
These thoughts literally stopped me from thinking about working and living in a country that’s not as developed as the one I live in now.
I’m embarrassed to say it, but I was telling God that I didn’t think his call elsewhere was really worth me giving up Amazon Prime, or my new washing machine, or my lovely antique desk, or all my childrens’ toys that I spent so much money on.
It was shocking to find that in my heart. My husband and I have been in missions and Christian ministry for most of our marriage… so it’s tempting to think that we’re pretty holy. But God knows better though. We are not holy without him.
I’m so thankful for God’s patience with me. Over the last half a year he’s been redirecting my heart to him, and away from the things I started to treasure too much.
The danger sometimes is that those treasures require our attention and responsibility. Sometimes so much so that we don’t have enough attention for our wonderful Father.
The many benefits of getting rid of possessions
Last year, I got rid of about 3/4 of my wardrobe.
Day after day I was standing in front of my closet wondering what to wear. After four kids, my body had changed multiple times and some things just didn’t fit the way I liked anymore. Others had colours that I liked, but rarely matched with the rest of my clothes. After feeling constantly depleted in my mind, I figured clearing out my closet was one way to help me make better decisions. We can only take so many properly thought through decision per day. I decided I didn’t want to waste that capacity on standing in front of my closet.
It was such a freeing experience to let go of stuff. It was like bits of bondage being cut away from me.
I bought a few more pieces of clothes over the year that matched. This helped me create a more cohesive wardrobe that I felt really good about.
Now, one year later, I love what I pick out and wear every day. Even though I have MUCH LESS selection.
Less selection = Less decisions.
You can read more about how you can make better decisions by getting rid of stuff here.
Other benefits of letting go of stuff include:
- More space in your home
- Spend less money on things you’re going to throw away anyway.
- Less problems when things break (because you don’t have so many things)
- You are less attached to things, and consequently more flexible
- I know people who would love to travel, or could even imagine serving as missionaries but they are stuck with multiple car payments and a mortgage.
Jesus our Declutter Guide
Jesus constantly challenges our hearts in passages like Matthew 6:20-21:
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
How easy is it for our stuff to become treasures and take hold of our hearts? Jesus knew that our belongings had the tendency to become an idol. He knew that when we declutter our stuff we also declutter our hearts.
I think he also knew that we only had a limited capacity for decision making. Belongings require responsibility and more decision making. It’s easier to have less stuff when we are already inundated by myriads of daily decisions. He knew that to really capture our hearts and attention, then we couldn’t be bogged down with baggage (literal and physical). I love that he’s not only the healer of our wounds, but he gave us some pretty great guidelines for living life to the fullest.
Making More Space
Decluttering your wardrobe won’t necessarily change your life. But it can be an intentional step and proclamation that you want to make more space for God.
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