Got Stuff? Get Out

A couple of weeks ago, the Friday before Labor Day, my boss asked me to clean out the Fridge at work. I was like ok. Everybody I work with was given numerous verbal and email notifications that it was gonna happen. It’s such a small company (about 20 people use this fridge) that I almost felt it was overkill. I mean surely everyone knew.

On that Friday, just before I left, it was time to clean. I purposefully went to the fridge on a mission to eradicate filth and make a clean sweep.

I knew going into this that the Fridge was full of old take out containers, empty butter bowls, thin plastic grocery store bags with assorted Tupperware & Gladware, packets of sticky condiments, and partial jars of jelly. I knew also that the Fridge was so full that we barely had room for our lunches…just a tiny tiny edge of couple of shelves. So tiny a space, that when to door opened everything tried to topple out.

I went armed – black trash bags and a few garbage cans – and quickly got to work. It was easy. I didn’t ask any questions. I had no emotional attachment. That was kinda the weird part really.

As I ruthlessly cleaned out this fridge disregarding the price, value or worth of the items I was tossing it felt freeing. God also began to speak to me in that still quiet voice He has. He began to show me that I liked stuff and perhaps I needed to be just as ruthless in cleaning out my own “stuff”.

God started showing me that I was overly attached to stuff. Not on a “I’ve gotta have the best” or an “i’ve gotta have more” or even a “mine’s better than yours” but in more of a everything had some huge emotional attachment.

And, if I wasn’t emotionally attached then I had some huge fear of hurting the person who gave me the gift. Or, I realized, I had some fear of at some point in the future wishing I had kept something I’d thrown away.

I come from a family that’s reasonably emotionally stable, you know there’s some odd balls in every family. But, I began to realize my attachment to stuff was a bit genetic and a bit nurtured.

My mom has Christmas ornament that are almost 60 years old. We have a collection of Wilton Character Cake pans that are at least 30 years old (and haven’t been used since my grandma died in 1984). We don’t know what to do with them, but we can’t throw them out. We have boxes of VHS tapes (and no video player) because of how expensive they originally were. And, that’s the stuff that immediately comes to mind.

Randomly I asked few people that I work with how emotionally attached they were to “stuff”. My informal poll showed guys were much less likely to have stuff that they were unnecessarily emotionally entangled in. So then asked myself, why do women get attached to stuff?
Maybe it’s because we’re nest builders and need nesting material. Maybe we were given fuzzy favorite blankets to comfort us, and the “thing” became our comfort. Maybe because we work hard toward our mental image of what home feels like. Maybe God made us to form attachment, He did after all form Eve from Adams rib…that’s pretty attached. Maybe God created us to have attachment but instead of forming healthy attachment to our spouse or even to God (the ultimate Comforter) we unhealthy attach to stuff.

Come’on do we really need our worn out flip flops from 3 summers ago? Will our little girl truly ever play with our 1980’s Cabbage Patch Kid (I mean seriously the plastic is sticky with age). Will our daughter ever really want to wear our (academic) Letterman Jacket for 50’s day? And what on earth are we really going to do with our first cell phone? (If we could get it to charge, and come on, for heaven sake its a flip phone…it makes calls – how boring.)

God started showing me I was attached to stuff, just for sake of attachment combined with the fear of lack. That I was “emotionally” attached to stuff I really didn’t have true emotions about.

God began to reiterate to me He wants the number one place in my heart, not the tiny corner of shelf that’s left after everything else is stuffed in.

I don’t know if you find it as hard to let go of stuff as I do, but it’s a matter of trust.

What are we going to trust more? God or stuff. Will we let the stuff in our life become so overwhelming that it’s our idol – our god? Will we allow the accumulation of stuff and things override the place God wants us to reserve for Him?

I choose to trust God.
(…and I entered a 12 step program this week. I kicked it off by taking out three garbage bags of stuff. Stuff that included algebra assignment from high school, notes from a class I took 3 years ago, and assortment of birthday and Christmas cards – that covered at least the last 3 years, and 3 old worthless, worn out cell phones. Not stuff, let’s call it what it is, junk.)
I choose.

I choose to trust God, even with my stuff.

I choose to trust God, even when He ask (insist) that I de-stuff my life.

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