We’re moving in a week. After 11 years in this big suburban house, we’re downsizing to what will eventually be a cozy cottage.
And as I’ve emptied storage areas and my closet, sold off furniture and knickknacks, sifted through a hodge-podge of accumulations, I’ve been learning significant and not-so-nice things about myself.
Take, for instance, the box of memories I’ve saved from Matthew’s childhood. Actually, take the multiple boxes of memories. Plastic baseball trophies (for participation! Whoopee!), two worn out teddy bears, the grungy purple cast he wore when he broke his leg- 20 years ago. Geez.
Did I think he would thank me someday? Ah Mom, how sweet, you saved this stinky cast…
Or was I just too lazy to decide?
Or the tea cups. I collected those way back when, using them for wedding showers and tea parties. And even though they’ve sat, unused, in a drawer for all the eleven years we’ve been here, it was hard to set them out for the garage sale. But there they sat, all morning long. No one even glanced at them. I couldn’t give them away!
My dear, diplomatic daughter, Elizabeth summed it up succinctly:
I’ve excused myself for all this saving. I’m nostalgic. These things remind me of people in my life— my children, my mom, old friends.
But here’s what I’m learning, girls…
When we hang on to stuff from the past, we’re impeded from embracing the future.
I think Jesus had something to say about that.
“And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”
Did you catch that phrase telling us why we’ve got to let go of what we once loved but doesn’t really work so well anymore?
… for the old skins would burst from the pressure…
Whether its tea cups or teddy bears…
or the role we once played in our family…
or the way we once did church…
or the relationship that is so very comfortable but is holding us back from fully following Jesus’ call on our life…
Some stuff has to go, or I’ll never be free to soar.
And so I am sorting. Making hard decisions. Asking myself uncomfortable questions.
Why would I keep this? Is it useful? Do I need it? Am I sure?
And then I’m probing deeper.
Will this crowd up and clutter my new little house? Will storing this cost me more money than it’s worth? Is it worth the aching backs to move it again?
All questions we need to be asking ourselves about how we live our lives.
- Are we cluttering up our lives with relationships and roles and obligations that no longer work?
- What would letting go free me to do that I am unable to do now?
- Have I filled my life with so many responsibilities that I am still not getting to what matters most?
- Am I so busy with good things that I’ve no time for the best?
- Am I sure this is what I am supposed to be doing?
Maybe you’re like me. You’ve gotten so busy that you’ve not had the time or the energy to free up space to dream.
Maybe we all should ponder Jesus’ words about the importance of letting go.
The context, by the way, has to do with a good thing. A disciple of John the Baptist was put off by the fact that the disciples of Jesus didn’t seem spiritual enough. Unlike other devoted followers of Yahweh, they didn’t fast.
That made them suspect. Less-than-committed. What he’d failed to see was the original intent of fasting and the current purpose assigned to Jesus’ disciples.
And so, I’m back to packing and sorting and yet another trip to Goodwill. Getting rid of good things so I have room to create something new.
Even tossing the tea cups.
From my heart,
And you? Do you have a vision for something new? Might you ponder Jesus’ words and how His wisdom relates to your habits?
Please tell us about it! This is scary stuff, this letting go.