Picking through the fragments of one’s life can be exhausting. Old letters, journals, mementos, and souvenirs. The memories come rushing in, non-stop, but there is no time to reminisce – there’s work to be completed. The Friday sale is rapidly approaching.
Today, my Smiling Son burst into tears as I carried a favorite, but seldom used toy to the sale pile. I was on task and wasn’t thinking of his needs. I hate hurting my kids – even when it is accidental. I reassured him that all of this stuff is replaceable. “We can always get another one,” I said calmly.
And yet, this is my dilemma too. I have a really hard time letting go of stuff. The boxes of keepsakes, the old mementos, the photos and fragments of friendships in the past. The bits and pieces of a life-changing adventure, or a particular turning point in the journey – all of these swell like a rising tide in my heart. But we can’t afford storage, we have no income, and we have no place to land. We have to let it go – even if that means hauling it all to the dump.
On Friday we’re hoping, and dreading the hoards that may descend upon our Huge Yard Sale! Hoping that our stuff is put to good use, dreading the demise of our material lives. We hope we’ll bring in a bit of cash, but we dread a future without our stuff. It is bittersweet – very freeing to let go, but very scary at the same time.
Because my assurances were not enough, my now not-so Smiling Son went to find his Mommy for moral support. A few minutes later he came back out to process the changes taking place in his life – and the loss of his stuff. He is full of questions, and now he fired them at me, like a semi-automatic rifle. Again, I sought to reassure him, but the next sentence that came out of my mouth was more for me, than for him:
“It will be OK, all of this can be replaced. And maybe it will be better.”
This is exactly what I needed to hear.I don’t do well in a disposable society. I take care of my stuff and I make it last. Even things that clearly have outlived their usefulness, and should be replaced, I continue to use them. Nevermind that I’ve gotten full value out of the item, now I look at the replacement costs and realize, “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” Why toss away this old beat up item, when I’ll have to spend $50 bucks on a replacement?
And yet, if this is the path God has led us to, and our best choice is to liquidate, who am I to argue? Why do I struggle?
For instance, I look at my air compressor, table saw, or any other tool and I see some very practical reasons for having that item. Like the good Boy Scout I am, I like to be prepared. I paid $80 for that compressor and I’ll probably get less than $20 at the garage sale. Now, not only will I not have a compressor when my tires need air, but I’ll one day have to re-purchase the stupid thing for twice what I paid for it the first time. I could list a hundred things that fit this pattern.
But I’m learning to trust. I’m learning to let go. I’m learning to practice the principles of Matthew 6. And yet it’s painful.