My resolution for 2023 is to get rid of some stuff. I started with my home office, got out the shredder and emptied the file cabinet and desk drawers of accumulated, outdated, unnecessary paperwork. Next came the spare bedroom with a closet chockfull of clothes that have “shrunken” or gone out of style in the 10+ years they have been hanging patiently waiting for another outing. On to the basement wasteland of abandoned but once-loved stuff. I’m trying desperately to take a clinical approach with my purging. If we haven’t used it or needed it in the past year or so, it can be sold, donated, trashed or otherwise disposed of. My mantra: “When it doubt – toss it out”.
Turns out that’s easier said than done.
At Christmastime when our grown children were in the house, I encouraged them to remove their treasures. I mean seriously, the Teddy Ruxpin Bear has been waiting to be loved once again for decades. What about all those scouting badges and dozens of neckerchiefs? What about the countless middle-school volleyball and basketball trophies? Even our grandkids have outgrown any interest in their parents’ old toys, dolls and games. Apparently, our kids were insincere years ago when they begged us to never get rid of whatever is in all those boxes of mystery lining our basement walls. I’ve been told that the landfills might be spared the dollhouse furniture, He-Man figures, and Teenage Ninja Turtles via Ebay but that seems like too much effort for too little return. Why won’t my grown children stake their claims on Ebay?
Now in fairness, not all of the mess is the kid’s stuff, but my stuff has more intrinsic value. My three old hammers: one came from my dad, one came from my father-in-law, and the third one is a mystery. My conundrum is that I don’t know which one of the three came from Dad or Pop, and only God knows where the third one came from, so I have no choice but to cherish all three. My wife has similar challenges with some old china, glassware and a trove of “home decor” accessories. So, separating the wheat from the chaff is painstakingly slow. But it’s just stuff.
Letting go of stuff is not easy but it is necessary unless your goal is to be featured on an episode of “Hoarders”. Is that show still on television? I’m usually too busy watching stuff saved in my DVR to watch anything currently being aired – ugh, more saved stuff!
As hard as it is to let go of the physical stuff, letting go of the emotional stuff is even harder. But it’s time to unload that baggage, too. I find I often pack up resentments, disappointments and heartaches in neat little boxes so that I can haul them out, unpack them and fuel my grudges and prejudices. Never forgiving or forgetting any injustice (actual or imagined) that has been inflicted upon me gives me another opportunity for self-righteousness and indignation. Sometimes it so satisfying to be the victim. And nursing those wounds of others’ wrongdoing only serves to make me feel correct and superior momentarily. In the end it just feeds my sadness. It’s exhausting carrying all that crap around.
Jesus invites us to be reconcilers. It’s impossible to be a reconciling presence in my world, my community, my family if I’m angry or resentful. Carrying boxes of hate in my heart just clutters my mind and burdens my soul. So, I have some unloading to do. I have stuff to get rid of. And it’s just stuff.
So, I’ll keep trying to unpack and let go.