Quite a few years ago, I moved from my cute little house in Cleveland, TN back home to Virginia. With this move came lots and lots of boxes. Y’all…the amount of stuff I accumulated over the three years I lived there was seriously insane!
Instead of trying to arrange to move all my big furniture, I sold it all before moving back home. What I couldn’t sell, I left for my roommates to deal with (sorry y’all!!). Anything I kept I had to fit into my little Dodge Neon. And, with three years experience of travelling back and forth from college to home and back again, I could pack with the best of ‘em. Seriously, Tetris master of packing guys!
So, I packed up and moved home. And instead of dealing with all my boxes, I just threw all those boxes into my parent’s attic.
When I got engaged, I started the process of figuring out how in the world I would get all my stuff into Josh’s one bedroom apartment when we got married.
That process started with going through every single item of clothing, shoes, books (okay, I lie…it did not start with the books!), and everything else that was not packed up in boxes from the move a few years earlier. Then, I moved on to the attic….the big, full-length-of-the-house attic…the attic that I kept throwing things into and forgetting about. Oy, the amount of stuff I had to bring down was insane!
I started the process of cleaning out my life in order to sift through some things so that I could move all my belongings to Josh’s when we got married. The process ended a little differently than I expected. I simply thought I would go through things, sells some stuff and donate the rest. But I got a lot more out of it than that.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, I got rid of stuff and moved my stuff to the apartment when we got married. But I learned something in the process. Something I wasn’t even a little prepared to learn about myself.
Does this shock anyone else? It shocked me! I’ve never thought that I’ve been the girl who has needed stuff. My friends and family would vouch for that I think.
I’ve never been one to want to surround myself with things and possessions.
But somehow, I ended up that way.
I learned this while going through literally all my things before getting married. I learned this because it was SO HARD to get rid of anything!!
These things that had been in the attic for 6 years, these possessions that had been shoved in the back of my closet since moving back home…they were difficult to let go of. Things I had totally forgotten that I had. And things that hadn’t been used in years! I was having a hard time letting them go.
This whole process of cleaning out my life took months and months. THAT’S how much stuff I had, y’all. So this light-bulb moment didn’t happen overnight. It happened over the course of months. Each day, the bulb getting less dim. Each time I went through stuff that lightbulb got brighter and brighter. This realization came to me when I started noticing the amount of things I had in my keep pile…but had nowhere to put it. And certainly no place for it in my soon-to-be home of a one bedroom apartment with Josh.
Seriously, high heels I hadn’t worn since college (can we just talk about the days where I would wear 5 inch heels with no problem!), kitchen gadgets that I “might need one day”, books on knitting and sewing and scrapbooking…all because “maybe one day”!
All my lovely, pretty books…oh y’all…I have a problem! I love, love, love books. I have almost every book written by my three favorite authors…that alone is enough books to start a library! Seriously, it wasn’t until a month or so after I got married that I finally allowed myself to see into the silliness of those possessions.
This realization about myself scared me!
This scared me about myself because, as Christians, we are called to focus on “heavenly treasures” and not Earthly possessions. We see this in Matthew 6:19-21, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”
Where your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will be also. Boom.
Man, this got me. The few months of my engagement and sorting through old things showed me what I had never realized about myself before. I was storing my treasures here on Earth. In shoes I never wear and books I never read. Things I “might use one day” and things I know I will never ever use again.
This showed me something about the condition of my heart. This showed me how selfish I was. How much my heart was set on what I wanted rather than what He wanted.
I had somehow along the way conformed my desires to that of the world, of possessions and things rather than giving and loving others.
This may sound drastic to some of you, and it kind of did to me too. And believe me, I tried to shrug it off. I tried to tell myself that I’m allowed to have nice things and having things that I like isn’t a sin. And it isn’t. It’s okay to enjoy things. It’s okay to relish in amazing shoes and books you enjoy every now and then. But not when it’s wasteful, not when it’s taking the place of Christ. I surrounded myself with so much STUFF that it was cluttering my heart.
I pushed this off until I just couldn’t anymore, God wasn’t dropping it.
Sound silly? I bet if you sit in a room full of all kinds of stuff you’ll have things to think about forever. You’ll be so distracted with things and those things will occupy your mind. Sit in a minimalist room and your mind will be clear, you’ll be able to focus and self-reflect. You’ll be able to pray without distraction.
Am I saying we all need to go minimalist? No. Am I saying I have gone minimalist? Goodness no…I need more of a wardrobe than that offers!
What I am saying is that we surround ourselves with so. Much. stuff. We become distracted so easily in this world of STUFF. Not only in our prayer time and devotions but in life.
For me, this was somewhat of a wake-up call. I became so aware of how distracted I had allowed myself to get. It made me so sad. How much money I had wasted on things I rarely used. How much time I had spent looking and buying. All for what? A bunch of boxes in the attic and closet?
I’m so thankful for those few months. I’m thankful that God opened my eyes to see how selfish I had been, how materialistic I had become.
Now, I am much more aware of what I buy. Do I really need it? Will I still use it in a year, two years? How is this going to bring glory to God?
Don’t get me wrong, I will still buy the occasional silly item that I know I probably don’t need. But I am MUCH more aware and intentional about the things I do buy, the things I choose to keep in my home.
I want to live a life that is Christ-centered. If stuff is getting in the way of that then I won’t hesitate to get rid of it! I urge you to take a good look around you. Are you surrounded by stuff? Are you allowing this stuff to distract you from living a Christ-centered life?
If it’s not bringing purpose to your life then get rid of it. It’s okay to enjoy nice things. It’s okay, really. But for me, ALL of that stuff was overkill. It was cluttering my heart with things that weren’t Christ-like. Can you say the same about the things in your life? If so, I hope you don’t hesitate to get rid of it!