“Wait, don’t throw that away!” I yelled. “I’ve got an idea!”
I love Pinterest, except for one thing. It makes me not want to throw anything away. I mean, I might need that toilet paper roll or bottle cap or empty Styrofoam tray later to make something wonderfully creative!
I have to confess: I used to pin ideas on how to organize my house. But I never got around to actually organizing my house, and it was pretty impossible anyway. When you run out of places for stuff, it sort of spills out all over your home.
People hoard everything from yarn to stuffed animals to hammers to makeup. (I know, because I saw all that on a Pinterest board about hoarding!)
I also saw a greeting card the other day with a room full of hoarded things on the cover. It read, “Congratulations. You’ve made a huge mess for me to clean up after you die.”
I’d laugh, except it’s not really funny. We are a nation obsessed with stuff, spending our abundance on things we don’t really need, and leaving it all for the next generation to deal with.
It’s no surprise, one of the hot topics on the Internet is the “less is more” craze. From authors to TED talks, from organization specialists to fashion consultants—everyone seems to be talking about eliminating excess and owning a richer life with less stuff.
In some cases, the less is more crowd is advocating the opposite extreme of hoarding!
One lady I read about proposes we keep only 10 items in our wardrobe. Another decided to live in a mini-house and pared down all her belongings to practically nothing. Then she went out to buy some of the things she got rid of in her haste!
My philosophy is: less is more, more or less.
And here’s what I mean.
First I tackle my stuff by asking tough questions:
1. Have I used it in the last year?
Why not? Why store stuff I’ll never use? (A few things, I wasn’t sure about, I put in a box to evaluate again later. A FEW things.)
2. Do I truly love it?
Does it make me smile or leave me sighing in frustration? Am I keeping it because someone gave it to me? Am I just struggling with how to let it go?
(Yes, I kept some special “just because” treasures—only OK because I have room for them.)
3. Do I have a reasonable location to keep it in my home?
Are things just piling up? Would I have to buy a storage unit to store these things? Why? Is that wise?
If I really love it, is there something that can go to make room for this?
4. What are the memories associated with it?
Are there good memory reasons to keep it (possibly for legacy purposes, or for the next generation)? Does it have any bad memories associated with it—and am I ready now to deal with those memories and move on?
(For some people, everything they touch has an associated “memory”—good and bad memories—and that can lead to hoarding. I’m not talking about that issue here. That may require counseling.)
5. Do I have more than one of this item?
Why? Is that realistic? (I counted more than a dozen pair of scissors in my home, and I’m not talking about those fancy craft scissors.) I’m learning life does not consist in an abundance of possessions (Luke 12:15).
6. Could someone else use this more than me?
Especially if I’m not using it and don’t need it, I need to think missions, the homeless, Goodwill or Amvets, a needy neighbor, etc. (1 John 3:17)
Maybe you have some other questions that help you.
I recently decided to take all my boxes of stuff stored in the garage and place similar items on a white cloth on my dining room table. I took pictures of the similar items in groups. Then I sent those pictures to family members.
“If you want it, let me know,” I said. “Otherwise it’s going in a garage sale and to Amvets.”
It’s amazing how little they wanted. Why did I think they would?
I’ll admit, it was hard to decide to let some things go. The six questions helped me.
But it’s not just “stuff” that concerns me.
Sometimes our biggest stressors are excesses in the stuff life is made of.
Life is made of Time. Schedules. Activities. Relationships. Things like that.
Less of some things is good.
But then again, more of some things is good too.
It depends on what we’re talking about.
For example, being busy is good; it means we are engaged and occupied in a (hopefully) worthwhile activity, but being too busy means our priorities may be out of whack. And busywork is seldom good.
A full calendar can reflect a good life, but too many things on our calendar is not good. It eventually can lead to burn-out. We have to learn to balance work and rest. We can’t go through life like tightly-wound springs.
This is even true in our spiritual life. While ministry and service are good, if we constantly give out and never take in, that won’t work.
We need to refuel. We need to sit at the Master’s feet and learn of Him. We need to be still and take time to meditate on scripture. We need to rest (Matthew 11:28).
To be honest, I didn’t even see all of this until the Lord set me apart for a while. I couldn’t be busy. I couldn’t keep up with my calendar. I couldn’t even do ministry.
I could barely breathe.
I came apart because I failed to “come apart” with the Lord to evaluate my life and my priorities.
My loving Father God showed me all the excesses in my life, and where my life had become too lean.
Now I am learning not just to “pace” myself, but to give myself more grace.
And I am oh, so thankful for God’s grace, lifting me up when I stumble in this new walk with Him.
These days, it’s not simply a matter of less is more, but rather, “What do YOU want me to do today, Lord?” I’m following the example of Christ. Jesus only did what the Father wanted Him to do (John 5:19) and I want to do the Father’s will too (Matthew 12:50).
Some days it’s less; other days it’s more—but every day, it’s just right when I lean on Him for direction.
Where are you struggling with too much? In your home? In your schedule? Something else? Will you bring that to the Lord and ask Him for direction? And will you obey Him?
Graphic, courtesy of Pixabay