…a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away.
Recently I gave my Organizing Belongings talk (called “You and Your Stuff”) to a lovely church group. During the Q&A I heard many of the usual questions, gave my thoughts, and opened up the floor to hear the thoughts of the other participants.
A lovely young women described how she was keeping boxes and boxes of her deceased mother’s things, and others in the crowd encouraged her to keep some of the most sentimental things and let the rest go. She could still love and honor her mom without keeping all of the stuff.
Another gal described how all of the stuff she was keeping made her feel closed in, nearly claustrophobic, but she didn’t know where to start. We encouraged her to choose a small place and just begin. She shouldn’t feel hurried, just encouraged by her small successes and inspired to tackle the next area!
Another woman volunteered how afraid she was that her children and grandchildren will have to tackle her mounds of stuff after she passes away. There were a lot of nodding heads—no one wanted to put that burden on their loved ones.
Then a sprightly 80-something gal in the front row piped up in cheerful, high-spirited disagreement. “I have no idea what’s in my closets! I can’t reach the shelves but my 6-foot-2 grandson can and he has stronger arms than me. I have so much stuff I have to keep my golf bag at the club, and I told him, ‘Don’t you forget about my locker at the club!’ And he told me, ‘Don’t worry, Granny, we’ll throw them all away but your putter because it’ll remind us of how you putter around!’” At this she laughed and laughed.
The room looked at me expectantly. After talking for nearly an hour about loving God more than stuff, holding our belongings loosely, sorting through things, and creating functional storage, what was I going to say to this stuff-hoarding gal who clearly didn’t mind the thought of leaving it all to her family?
“Well!” I said. “It sounds like you don’t have any spiritual clutter about your stuff, so you’re good!”
Some of the other folks in the room looked surprised. Some looked chagrinned. But hopefully they all understood what I was saying: There are no organizing absolutes. We don’t have to do it the same way, or at all. None of us WILL do it all the same way.
God doesn’t hold any of us to an organizing standard, just the standard that we love and serve Him and other people. If your stuff is getting in the way of that, then by all means it’s time to clear some out. If it’s not, then don’t fret about it.
I try to make it abundantly clear in both the Organizing You books (in fact, this is one of the main things my reviewers cite when they say that my books are different from classic organizing books): You have to discover your own spiritual clutter, and then either get intentional about clearing it out or get intentional about giving it to God.
Wait, is that an absolute?
I guess it is!
Lies to fight: I have to get organized to be a good home-runner. I have to do it like my mom or my friend. There is some unknown standard that I probably can’t meet.
Thought shot: My goal is peace; I only have to be organized enough for me.
What organizing “absolute” have you surrendered? I’d love to hear!
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:5
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