"And Jesus said unto him, 'No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." Luke 9:62 (KJV)
Due to circumstances beyond our control and completely against our will, we recently had to move again. As we packed and prepared for the move, I was completely dumbfounded as to how we could STILL have so much stuff! As you will know if you have been reading here long, we began downsizing in earnest four years ago, sold our 4-bedroom home with the oversized garage, and released about 90% of our physical possessions. We moved into a 2 bedroom, furnished rental that provided very little storage, have continued downsizing the entire time we lived there being intentional about not bringing new things into our home, and yet, when we got ready to move again, I was completely overwhelmed by all we still own. How could this be?
As I unpack boxes and crates in our new place, it occurs to me that a lot of what I am unpacking is sentimental in nature. Oh, there are the things that we actually use, need, and want to keep, but there are a lot of other things I am still clinging to simply because I feel guilty letting them go. As I contemplated all of this, the light of these epiphanies dawned on me.
1. Sentimental things are tethering me to the past. They are beginning to feel like an anchor holding me back from fully embracing the now and what is to come. I cling to them because I want to maintain a bridge to yesterday, but that bridge is an uncrossable, unrealistic fantasy. Holding on to the things that belonged to or were given to me by departed loved ones will never bring them back or transport us back in time.
2. When an item evokes more sadness than happiness, it no longer deserves a place in my life.
3. I no longer want to be reminded of what used to be but will never be again because I want to enjoy today and the memories still to be made.
4. These sentimental things are no longer making me feel joyful. They bring pangs of heartache when I look at them, and as I watch my husband and son lug these crates around, I cringe thinking about how my sentimentality is the cause of their sore muscles and backs.
5. I am not betraying my parents (or anyone else) by not keeping every greeting card they ever gave me or holding on to every, single thing they ever bought for me. I don’t have to give up everything, but I don’t need to keep everything, either. It is unhealthy and unfair to the loved ones who remain and mean the world to me. Thankfully, I have the option of keeping choice, meaningful reminders of my time with them and still feel okay about not clinging to the rest. I can almost hear my very practical, sensible parents telling me it is not only okay, but it is high time to let go.
6. One day, when our son has the unpleasant job of sorting through our things after we are gone, the memories associated with the things we leave behind will not be attached. These are our memories, not his. It won’t make sense to him why I kept a restaurant receipt from a meal Mom, Dad, and I shared when I was a teenager. He wasn’t there, nor will he understand its purpose. So, why burden him with it?
7. Most of the sentimental stuff hasn’t seen the light of day in years. I just keep it stashed away in crates that are never opened and keep moving it from place to place kind of like dragging a ball and chain behind me. Opening it now feels like reopening an old, painful wound. I don’t want to do that anymore. How can I completely heal if I keep reopening the wound?
8. As I purge the sentimental, I start to realize these same truths apply to relationships that may have at one time been healthy but have become toxic. Clinging to a detrimental relationship out of sheer guilt is counter-productive to my new forward-looking life. As I am assessing every, single thing I take out of boxes and crates before finding it a place in our new home, I am analyzing each relationship to see if it still brings benefit, joy, and enrichment to my current life.
Sometimes, as Christians, we develop the mindset that we are never to encounter or engage in conflict or eliminate any relationships. This could not be farther from the truth. There are times that our walk with Christ will be the very catalyst that requires the severance of a relationship. I talk a lot more about this in a post called "Minimizing Detrimental Relationships."
It feels good to shed what is no longer healthy. From now on, I want to live life looking forward. I feel excited about changing my perspective from mourning for yesterday to anticipation for tomorrow. After having gone through some scary medical stuff lately, I have been freshly reminded just how fragile life is, and I don’t want to waste any more time longing for what has already been lived. Life is such a precious gift, and I feel like God has handed me a new lease on life. With deep gratitude to Him for more time, I want to embrace this moment and all future moments, living each one to the full with an outlook of eagerness and expectation of good things ahead. I want to trade in the old for what is new and still to come.