Several weeks ago now, I wrote about some of the lessons I saw in the loss of several precious family heirlooms when my china cabinet fell down. As we moved house over the last month, I have had time to reflect on that loss and recognize ways my thinking and acting have changed as a result.
While I am still sorry that I lost things like my teapot collection and my great-aunt’s water goblets, I have found it easier to give away books, favorite clothing that no longer fit and even items that I really liked but for which I no longer had a use or place. I still have more to weed out and discard, but I can already see the increased spaciousness in my home and in my heart by clearing out things that were extraneous and/or unneeded.
There are so many times we hold onto extra things because we think that we might have a use for them someday or because a friend or family member gave an item to us or because something has been in the family for five generations or out of guilt. However, none of those reasons mean that we have to keep every single thing we have in our home. We can do without many of those things. Unlike our grandparents and great-grandparents who lived through the Great Depression, we don’t need to keep every piece of string or reuse wrapping paper. There is only so much redundancy of every day items that is practical.
Besides, there may be someone else in the family who would love to have great-grandma’s cast iron skillet which you will never use. Your nephew might enjoy Uncle Tom’s train set that is collecting dust in your attic. Perhaps a less fortunate family can use all of those clothes you haven’t worn in three years. And the extra set of plates that you dislike but never get around to discarding could be donated to goodwill. You will be blessing others by giving them these things and there is so much more joy in giving away those items than there is in keeping them around to collect dust and use up valuable storage space. Seeing the joy in the face of the recipients quickly gets rid of any regret you might feel over letting those things go.
It’s also been easier for me to let go of things that were broken or somehow unusable but that I was keeping out of sentimental value. Some of those have been replaced (like the sofa) and some have not (a sewing cabinet). When the ceramic string keeper that had belonged to my grandparents broke in my hands, I was able to throw away the pieces without tears and without frantically trying to glue it back together just because it held precious memories.
Letting go becomes easier and easier the more we practice it. Although we often need a few extras, an overabundance of too many things becomes burdensome and can become unhealthy– mentally, spiritually, and even physically. The more we simplify our lives, the more time and space we will have for other good pursuits that might come our way. Letting go requires trust though–trust that all of our needs will be filled if we give away our extra things. Our God promises us that He will provide for our every need, And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19).
Also, letting go of physical items can lead to letting go in other areas of our lives. We can start letting go of bad attitudes, pet sins, and unhealthy friendships. We can learn to let go of our need to be right every time, to having dessert every night, and of excessively worrying about our children. Obviously, we can’t let go of our obligations and duties towards our husband and families, our churches, or our employers, but there are many little things in our lives that are not obligations and can be easily discarded.
Try letting go. It may just be the first step towards more healthy living for you and a blessing to those around you.