Monday, May 4, 2015
Stewardship: I am not my stuff
My husband tells the story of why my mother-in-law hates knickknacks. Basically she told him that they require her to dust more. My problem with knickknacks (aside from never dusting them) is two-fold: they inevitably become broken and I hate being weighed down by stuff.
Sometimes I have this fantasy that I am a religious Carmelite able to own nothing the way my parish priest does. I also wish that I could waltz out of my house and leave my stuff behind. The problem with that is it's not feasible. It's more economical to hold onto a pot or pan and use it to cook food for my family. Stewardship is not for the weak.
Stewardship is about detaching oneself from things. Learning to let go of stuff that breaks or really isn't necessary. This can be very difficult as often materialism slowly creeps into our lives. Suddenly having a tv is more important than spending time with our children. Having the latest computer or cell phone becomes a priority when we really need to budge better for our family's sake. I too find myself at times having trouble letting go. What if I need that thing in the future? Can I really afford to go without? Am I letting my stuff define who I am or is my stuff merely here to help live my life to the fullest? It's a tough act.
The other day I was looking around for packing tips. Someone has recently started paring everything down in their house. Their house looked great. It wasn't cluttered like my house feels like all.the.time. I asked how she managed to do. Basically she said she went room to room and area to area and took everything out then decided what to put back in. Another commenter said her philosophy was thinking "If you're house burned down would you replace it." I think that's a good point. And I would add the caveat of "If you're house burned down would you replace it if you could." Some things are handmaid and/or unique items that I doubt I could replace if my house burned down, but I would still want to replace them.
This mantra "if you're house burned down..." has been extremely helpful in helping me strike a balance while packing. In our case though I can't sell things in Canada so while I would rid myself of more stuff I'll have to wait. That said I think I'm able to let things go more easily. Thus far I've only packed about 13 boxes. And I've managed to throw out many things and donate many things too. It's helpful that I'm moving to a warmer climate and can off-load a lot of winter necessities. The digital age is also proving to be invaluable. I can download favorite books instead of owning hard copies. I can watch favorite movies by streaming them. The library is great too. You don't need a copy of everything unless you plan on making notes in the margins.
I'm looking forward to a future where I can continue to part with things and make room for nicer things that I actually need. I look forward to a future that is clutter free and easier to keep that way. I hope to continue to focus on proper stewardship and pass on that knowledge to my children. I am not my stuff. My stuff is only here to help me.