Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Significance of Stuff

Someone close to my family is moving far away. They are consolidating a life's worth of things into an extremely small house that had already been furnished by them as a vacation home. To watch their inner struggle of selling off not only their things, but the memories attached to them has been difficult. A comment was made to me this evening that "Someday you'll get old and stuff will mean something to you!" I realize that statement spoken in anger was made in their grief of having to let go of yet another piece that meant something to them. No amount of sympathizing or empathizing on my part is easing their pain. I have used so many techniques to help with this process that I am tapped out.

For those of you who don't know me personally, one of my past professions was as a Professional Organizer. I have done training seminars, speaking engagements on several occasions over the years for various organizations and have loved helping others make changes in their lives as they deal with the stuff in their homes and businesses. It was an amazing time in my life to actually work in my "sweet spot." I helped people deal with emotions, make decisions, de-clutter, find freedom, and breathe deeply. People would cry and hug me after a session because they were so relieved that someone helped them through the process. Their weight had been lifted.

And yet... this one is different. No amount of rationalizing or logic has been helpful. And so when rational thought and logic fail what is left in helping them to work through this transition? Why is it so hard for them to let go? What has happened in their past that causes them to cling to their things so deeply? I am continually reminded of this verse in Matthew...

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. Matthew 6:19-20

As I look around my comfortable home I can say without pause, that if I were to lose my house tonight and all of it's contents, there is not a stick of furniture that I would cry over, not a knick-knack that I couldn't live without. It's all replaceable. If I could save something it would be our photographs. That is the story of our lives, the book we have written and the witness of our love for one another over the years. They are our shared memories. Our memories are tied up in the people of our lives, not our stuff. Even if I were to lose these, I could still find solace in knowing that the amazing people God has put in my life are still with me. The people I made those memories with are still here for me to love.

I believe that's what Matthew meant when he wrote those verses. Don't worry about your stuff here on earth (cars, boats, houses, 50 year old ashtrays). Invest in sharing Jesus' love for others by loving them. And by doing that, you send your love ahead of you.

Let God be the one who stores up all your love and forget about your stuff.


  1. Amen! I used to be the opposite- as a direct result of my mother. I held on tight to every tiny little thing. You would have been amazed at what I kept! But it's been a great journey... actually since becoming a Christian and seeing what I truly value in my life. Now I can easily chuck things that others would cling to with white knuckles! Haha!
    May I quote this post in a post I'm working on about living differently? I'll link to you in the post, of course. :) Let me know!
    Great stuff!

  2. Amber,
    You are more than welcome to use this post any way you like. I'm glad it was something you could relate to.