I know I said that I was going to do part two of the moving sale today, but I am nothing if not a rulebreaker. *cough* I can hear Lover laughing somewhere. Anyways, on to today’s post.
It was really interesting to watch people’s reactions when we told them we were selling just about everything we owned before our move. Some people applauded us, some (a lot of) people thought we were crazy, and some people were downright upset. I tried so many times to explain our thought process, but I just never seemed to be able to really put it into words. Maybe today I’ll do a better job.
Have you ever thought about how much time we spend taking care of our stuff? I’m talking about working on our houses, maintaining our vehicles, sorting our paperwork. Washing our clothes, our dishes, and our linens. Dusting books and baseboards and knickknacks. Winterizing the lawnmower, summerizing the snowblower, raking fall leaves, replacing blown lightbulbs. Decorating, redecorating, tweaking and revamping. Washing clothes, ironing them, putting them away, sewing on buttons, matching up socks, hanging clothes on hangers, putting away out of season clothes.
Some days, it drives me bonkers. Why am I doing this? Why is such a huge percentage of my time taken up by caring for my stuff? Do I really need sixteen nail polishes and twenty Pyrex dishes and eighteen coffee mugs? Do my kids need so many toys that putting them away at night takes too long for a toddler to do in reasonable amount of time? My husband has so little free time, why are we spending it on oil changes and mowing and yet another kitchen project?
There was a time that I pretty much stopped blogging because I had grown tired of talking about decorating all the time. What was the purpose? How was talking about decorating doing anything of merit? When I get to heaven, will God compliment me on my perfectly matched curtains and decorative throw? If I styled my mantel perfectly, who cared? Did it help anyone?
I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with decorating your house. In fact, my conclusion from that year or so off was that it was necessary for me, in order to create a home for my family. I think my blog also helps other people see how attainable decorating and projects can be, and encourages them to give it a try too. But, like everything else, there needs to be a balance. I needed to find a way to create a warm and welcoming home, but to be able to look at a room and say “enough is enough.”
Basically, it boils down to this. I’m tired of being a “stuff manager.” Today my kids and I went to the library. We don’t have a second car, so we walked the two miles there and then rode the city bus home. It took us FOUR AND A HALF hours to do what would have normally taken about 12 minutes round trip in a car. Back in Rochester, if you had suggested that, I would have said no. Heck no! Why? Because there were probably two dozen other things on my to do list that seemed more pressing than a trip to the library, and I can guarantee that at least three quarters of that list would have been “stuff” to-do’s.
So when we were given the chance to start with a clean slate, I considered it a gift. I could get rid of the “just in case” paperwork. That gift that someone gave me that I don’t like but felt like I should. The clothes that didn’t fit, and the fifteen mugs that I didn’t really like as much as my favorite three. By renting a much, much smaller place, there’s just physically not enough room to have much. And yes, I will decorate and cozy-ify this little place to make it feel like home, but there’s only so much you can do in a two bedroom apartment. A few fun projects and a handful of furniture purchases, and we’ll be done.
As we downsized, whenever I hit a particularly difficult group of things to purge, Matthew 6:19-21 would play in my mind.
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
It was always the reminder I needed that things are not what this life is about. I won’t look back at the end of my life and wish I had owned more stuff. I won’t regret not purchasing the latest “necessity”. By reducing the amount of “stuff” we have to manage, we’re freeing ourselves to have more time for family, friends and God. It’s not an easy process, nor is it an easy adjustment. But I do think, for us, in this time and this place, it is exactly what we need to be doing.
The Nester wrote a great post on this topic as part of her 31 days series two years ago. It’s worth the read.
And this is a very interesting study on how possessions shape us. Notable quote “our possessions become an extension of who we are””