We all accumulate a lot of STUFF in our lifetime. My husband was an easy target for a good salesman, and I could always tell by the sheepish look on his face when he came home from the shops that he had bought some you-beaut new gadget that he just couldn’t do without, which would eventually end up in our already overflowing gadget drawer. One of the popular sayings at our house was – ‘this would be handy if you had a use for it!’
I am in de-cluttering mode at the moment and have been going through filing cabinets, drawers and cupboards, throwing out boxes and boxes of old notes, papers, documents and general “stuff” which I no longer need or have space to keep. Someone said to me, “When you are going through your stuff, think about what your children will do with it when you are gone, and then save them the trouble and throw it out yourself.”
There are tips that are helpful in this process. One of the things that I do if I think I can’t bear to part with clothes that I rarely wear, is to put them in a separate cupboard, and if I haven’t worn them in the time allotted, say the past 12 months, then out they go. And of course the flip side is, there is then room in your wardrobe to buy something new that you will find much more useful!
A story is told about a man who was taking a cruise on an ocean liner. Somehow one of his socks got away from him and blew over the railing, lost forever. Without a moment’s hesitation, the man flipped the other sock over the railing too, then stretched out on the lounge in the sun and took a nap. He knew when he was looking at a hopeless situation, and he wasn’t about to let it ruin his opportunity for pleasure. You will note, of course, that this was a man – not a woman!
Many of us would take the remaining sock home and KEEP it, hoping a mate might miraculously turn up some time. But all we would be doing is cluttering up our sock drawer with another single sock. Instead, like the man on the ship, we need to let go of the surplus stuff that clutters our life. Of course, if you have young children, there is every likelihood that the missing sock will turn up in a mud puddle in the back yard, or under the bed or behind a cupboard. However, if the sock drawer becomes so cluttered with single socks that you can’t fit the pairs in, then perhaps it’s time to have a clean out.
Our lives can become over-filled with all the stuff we insist on hanging on to, both physical (like single socks and broken gadgets and old clothes), and emotional (like guilt, pain and misery). We can be afraid to let go of things that have been with us for a long time.
It’s like the story of the little monkey who put his hand into a jar to get a biscuit. When he closed his fist on the biscuit he found he couldn’t get it out of the jar. The only way he could remove the jar from his hand was to let go of the biscuit. And until he let go, he was doomed to carry the heavy jar around on his hand, weighing him down and restricting his movement. He could complain all he liked about the inconvenience and the heavy weight of the jar, and how sad he was because he couldn’t swing from tree to tree with the other monkeys, but he was the one who had to let go of the biscuit to regain his freedom.
Sometimes the stuff we hold on to, be it years of accumulation of needless possessions or the emotional stuff that we feel we can’t get over, weighs us down and clutters our life. But if we are willing to open our hands … and our hearts, and have a real spring clean, get rid of all the stuff that is cluttering our lives, including negative attitudes, we will have a lot more room in our cupboards and drawers … and in our hearts, for the things that are really important.
There is great blessing in letting go and stepping out, unencumbered, knowing that God holds our future in His hands.