by Lonna Enox
I can procrastinate no longer. Even when I close my eyes and
reopen them, the double garage, the shop, and the upper storage
area are stuffed with boxes, cartons, and plastic containers. We
moved into this house ten years ago - five of us.
Today it is I. The three children have grown up, and Garry,
my husband, has died. The task of clearing out for the realtors
overwhelms me. Should I toss these boxes? No! my "pack rat" inner
self gasps. They may contain irreplaceable treasures.
Some of the boxes hold my children's memorabilia, so I move
them to the rented storage unit for them to look through when
they visit. I also store the boxes containing their father's
memorabilia, which they will want to look through. Finally, all
that remain are my boxes. I am surprised that they do not
intimidate me; it is what they represent that I avoid.
One box is filled with letters and old cards, passed to me
from my dad. Another contains "collections" from loved ones over
the years that Dad had stored. Like Dad, I feel a certain
responsibility and ambivalence about tossing the bits and pieces
of my ancestors. How does one determine the value of a napkin
upon which Grandma wrote, "From the restaurant where I met the
love of my life"? How can you toss cards that have nestled in a
box for over fifty years? Boxes filled with loved ones' pasts
make me fear losing them forever.
Other boxes represent promises unfulfilled: the paperwork or
photos from a former life. They hold the clothes that no longer
fit (some never did). Needlework and woodworking projects,
partially finished or never started, remind me of all the plans
I've made but never carried out.
I remember the money spent on the cake-decorating course; I
attended only a few classes. The hours spent on unfinished
projects are hours I will never retrieve, and they taunt me now
that more of life is behind me than I can imagine ahead. I see
dreams deferred and little hope of finding new ones.
My most difficult boxes are those containing my teaching
supplies. I have only recently decided to leave a familiar career
and step into another. The change ahead is daunting.
A cowardly voice inside whispers that I should close the
boxes and put them in storage, where my own children can deal
with them someday. But my sense of fairness pushes me to sort
through the boxes again.
The clothes, unopened projects, and dishes are donated to
thrift shops. Paperwork is shredded except for necessary
documents. Photographs are sorted into photo boxes. Objects from
my bygone days are tossed into the garbage or donated to the
neighbor's garage sale.
Finally, I approach my father's and grandparents' boxes. I
find a treasure of letters written inside cards. I sort them into
a picture/card file box for my children. In these, they can see
their greatgrandmother, their grandparents, and their mom as
ordinary human beings, with the foibles and emotions they have
experienced or will experience. Maybe I will look through these
again when I need to "touch" my roots.
When I view my empty garage, I feel free. Life without so
much useless "stuff" entices me, and I grasp it greedily. My
irreplaceable treasure - my life - can't be stored in a box. "We
now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are
like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure" (2
Corinthians 4:7, NLT).
Instead of holding onto these earthly treasures, I can now
appreciate the treasures I hold inside.
Lonna Enox writes from Roswell, NM.
April-May "Bible Advocate" (2008) - a publication of the Church
of God, Seventh Day, Denver, USA.
Oh indeed, how many of you reading this have ALL SORTS OF "STUFF"
just collecting in boxes and hanging around. A lady and her two
children moved in upstairs in the house where I rent the basement
suit. This lady has the two car garage that goes with leasing the
main three bedroom house. She and her children (young adults now)
cannot put any of their vehicles into the garage - it is packed
full of "stuff!"
The young lady (young to me - she is 41) who owns the Music
School I teach for, moved houses two years ago. The two car
garage was also jam-packed full of "stuff." It took her the best
part of two years but she did finally sort through it all,
decided enough was enough and much of the "stuff" just had to go.
Her and her husband can now get the two cars they own into the
two car garage.
It's true, many of us need to get much "stuff" out of our lives,
and as we stop the physical clutter all around us, we can clearly
see the more lasting, really important stuff, that needs to be
inside of us. There's nothing wrong with having the physical
essentials in this physical life (we in the Western world need to
remember many millions do not have a one hundredth of the
physical things we have), but too many of us are cluttered with
stuff that is not needed by us (maybe someone else would love to
have them) and we do need to learn to "let go" of cluttering
stuff. We often need to lighten the load, realize life is not
about physical stuff. True Christian life is about seeking first
the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, then as Jesus said, all
the essential physical things will be given us.
As you go through much of your "stuff" why not take the pleasure
of giving a lot of it away to the poor and needy who would love
to have it, for often they do not even have the stuff for
essential living. Or you may like to have a garage sale, and the
money you collect, give it to help feed the poor of this world.
In this month of May 2008, they are saying on the TV newscasts
that, for various reasons, there are more people going hungry in
third world countries than ever before.
Get rid of a lot of your "stuff" - and as the lady who owns the
Music School I teach for said to me, "Wow, do I ever feel much
better, lighter, and I've helped those who needed it much more
than I did."