When her family moved from Virginia to Guatemala with Servants4Him, my friend Maureen and her husband de-materialized. That meant her family had to get rid of a lot of stuff for the big move. From their ten-year-old daughter to their junior in high school, the family was on board to downsize and de-clutter.
Maureen let each child have one large Rubbermaid tub to fill with memories and treasures from their lifetime to put into storage. When I asked her what those cartons held, it was more about what they didn’t hold. The kids lined up their trophies, took a picture of them, and threw them away. They posted their artwork on the walls, took pictures, and tossed them in the trash.
At first, the de-materializing process was freeing: they tossed, sold, and gave freely. But then it became frustrating: she claimed their “things” just seemed to multiply. After giving away 100 books, she’d find 300 more. And then came the feelings of sadness. As their friends drove or walked way with mementos, they felt a painful, “But that was mine……..”
It’s hard to give up possessions. In his book, It’s All Too Much, Peter Walsh claims we don’t want to downsize because we’re afraid our best memories are behind us instead of in front of us. “The only way to find out what the present holds is to actually live it; clinging desperately to the past seriously endangers your enjoyment of the present. If you let your sentiment overrun your house, you’re inhibiting your family’s ability to have a life worth preserving.” Walsh claims clutter makes us forget what’s really important, monopolizes our time, steals our space, denies us peace of mind, and jeopardizes our relationships.
Pshew! That makes me ready to de-materialize. And January is the perfect time to consider what to donate, sell, or throw away so that our family can live better in the present and plan for the future.
When Maureen asked her youngest daughter if she’d still feel at home in America, Emily replied, “Home will be wherever somebody misses me.” Oh, they will be missed, but I don’t think their family will miss their “stuff.” They’ll be too busy living in the present and investing in others’ lives. And something tells me their best memories are still ahead of them.
As believers in Christ we have the same hope: our best memories are ahead of us.
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Mark 6:19-21) (NIV)