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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Giving up your stuff

I didn't participate in any of the '40 Days/ 40 Bags' type things this year because I feel like I am always getting rid of stuff and I don't need the motivation of Lent to help me purge. My goal is to get rid of more than I am bringing into this house. It's not always easy.
Just last night I was laying in bed thinking about the six bags I had just dropped off at the thrift store when I was hit with sadness over one of the items that I choose to part with. This item had sat in my closet, unused for over four years, and yet it was a gift and I suddenly felt like I was betraying the person who gave it to me by sending it to a new home. I thought about running down to the thrift store when it opened today to reclaim the item. Then I could bring it come and... Put it back in my closet? Leave it out where it would be in the way? Store it in a different place?
I panic I felt over losing this item was immediately replaced with the disgust of having the item unused for so many years. Another family could be blessed by my unused items. This item could have been being used every day for the last four years and yet here it sat in my closet gathering dust amongst the sheets and boxes.
Our extra items could benefit those who have less than us. But it is difficult to part with stuff because our culture values what you can see. It's like a consumer plague that sweeps the nation. Get it, store it, get it, store it. Even if you don't need it, who cares? It's the right price and you may need it someday. Tuck it away for later.
Here I was holding onto physical proof of a friend. Somehow keeping the item made our relationship, although distant, more real. I was valuing the material object over the things that truly make our relationship real: memories and love. I don't need physical proof of a relationship, or of a shared experience, or of love. That item is staying at the thrift store and hopefully it will find a new home outside of a closet. An uncluttered life is filled with things you can not see: love and friendship and experiences.
With the way this baby rocks a snowsuit, he is definitely a keeper!


Susan said...

Well said.

I remember when we were giving away stuff before moving east and I gave a friend of mine boxes of fabric that had been stored in my closet since before I was married (somehow I just couldn't find the time to sew myself fancy dresses and wool suits AFTER the kids were born).

A few days later she told me that she had sewn up some curtains out of an expensive piece of lace and I almost cried. My fabric legacy was someone's curtains, lol! But, under my care, that fabric never saw the light of day and she had already used it to beautify her home---I was being silly and selfish.

You are right, I think giving things away, really letting go of them, helps us to be less self-centered and more appreciative of the intangibles.

Miranda Hupp said...

We are trying to find a house closer to where my husband works. Unfortunately, we can not find anything. I keep putting of real deep cleaning until we move but it is starting to get to me.

I have had this urge to get rid of everything! Im actually looking forward to getting rid of things. My husband on the other hand.....he keeps everything. Drives me insane! Good thing he is a keeper. ;)

Kym said...

I have not even heard of 40Days/40Bags but it seems like a good idea for someone like me who is constantly in need of decluttering. We have been on a mission to rid our home of the things we don't need, so I really identified with the story you told of having second thoughts. In the end, it always feels better to pass on those items in hopes that someone else will be blessed by them.

A Dusty Frame said...

Yep~Sometimes you just have to let things go.
Things that aren't super useful but meaningful you could take a photo for the photo album and include a note about the person/friendship. Then you're still honoring the friend but the stuff is gone!

Lizzie TOS Crew

Modest Mama said...

Lizzie~ I LOVE this idea! It is so perfect and what a great way to hold onto the memory without the clutter!

Jennifer said...

I got rid of a few bags of stuff while cleaning out my closet today. It is funny/sad how attached to stuff we can be. Cleaning takes longer when I get slowed down by memories.