My mother has entered an assisted living center. Despite early-onset Alzheimer’s, she is well-adjusted in her tiny apartment. Didn’t think she’d budge an inch from frequent declarations to “never leave my house unless I’m in a pine box!”
Now comes the challenging work of cleaning, sorting and re-distributing many decades of belongings jammed into every nook and cranny of my childhood home. Suitcases full of ancestral photos, candles with faded scent, rusty tools, dry paint cans, old mattresses and appliances need cleaning and boxing. Physical and emotional exhaustion pit memories against common sense. Next comes selling the homestead, painful but necessary to insure financial security for mom’s future.
Suddenly, it hits me. Who will clean up MY mess?
Shouldn’t I be more selective in “collecting”? BUT, I argue, I LIKE stuff! I need stuff. Some stuff has been with me a very longtime – it defines me! My children and husband have lots of stuff, so can’t I, too?
- Proudly organized closets and dressers contain my multi-seasonal, multi-purpose, (multi-sized) clothing.
- There are rolling baskets of assorted paints, clipart, stickers and stampers to fashion signs or greeting cards.
- I adore crafting! All fabric bits larger than a postage stamp qualify for future creation of quilts or costumes.
- And the kitchen! Efficient cooks have multiple pots, pans and bakeware, right? What if I need mini, or medium or extra-large muffins? Trays of every shape and size for elegant holiday serving!
- Who doesn’t keep labeled color-coordinated food storage systems for each grain, spice, dry ingredient or legume: recipe-ready and neatly displayed behind cupboard doors?
- I simply cannot part with Aunt Martha’s table linens or mother’s china (although chipped and not microwave safe), they’re so pretty!
- Three interlocking, multi-level pastry racks are absolutely necessary should neighbor kids come over to bake cookies…maybe…someday.
The question that stifles an urge to purge is: “What if I NEED this?”
You get the picture. My own home is just as packed as mom’s. The Simplified Living movement came into vogue long after the Art of Acquisitioning imprinted my genetic code. The tidying up at mothers however, prompted a new perspective this mindset. Runaway collectors burn too much time and energy. The act of keeping, storing, cleaning, moving or searching for doo-dads is exhausting and compromises attitudes about need versus want. Analyzing the state of my own living space, reveals a lesson from Hebrews redirecting heart, mind and soul:
If fulfilling God’s purpose for me gets stalled out by an impulse to keep (dare I say: covet) excess ‘stuff’, I’m in trouble. BIG trouble. Such drag on my priorities and motivation places excess value on wrong things – THINGS! Materialism doesn’t matter in eternity’s light. An earlier Hebrews passage similarly enlightens:
My anchor and investment belongs elsewhere – in the hope and faith that God promises to care for me and my household. To provide what I need when I need it instead of fueling the impulse to stock-pile supplies for any eventuality.
Time for the REALLY BIG purge.
THIS is most certainly true.