In a few days we are on the move and this means that for the last number of weeks we have had boxes in various states of packed-ness around our house. I really hate packing and moving, and so am in the worst job for that. Since becoming a minister this is the fourteenth move I have undertaken.
The packing process is quite cathartic and distressing all at the same time. It affords the opportunity to purge your life of things that have become less useful than they first were. It may be clothing I have outgrown or that doesn’t suit my taste any longer, it may be craft supplies for an activity I no longer do, or cooking equipment that was a ‘fad’ or may be broken, or gifts I have never used, or make up that is surplus to my needs.
It’s amazing just how much stuff I can accumulate and hold on to ‘just in case’. It turns out that often, when the ‘just in case’ moment arrives, I have forgotten that I had said item and I go out and buy another one. It is not uncommon that during the packing activity I come across things and say, “Oh, I forgot I had that.”
My rule tends to be, unless there is a high sentimentality about it, if I haven’t used it since we moved in (usually between 3-5 years) then it is not essential to my life and existence so it can go. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. I find it extremely difficult to part with those things that have a strong association attached to it, but that I have never loved enough to use or have on display. It’s also helpful to have to explain to another person why you are holding onto something, which is where the opinion of my husband is helpful (and sometimes annoying).
What I have discovered, however, is that by holding on to these things that stay tucked away in boxes and the back of cupboards is that they can add to the burden of what needs to be packed and transported and then rehoused at the new location. While each ‘thing’ might only be small, when you add them all together they become a significant weight.
It’s not rocket science to draw parallels between this practical example and what can go on in our emotional life as well. There are plenty of thought processes and practices that might have served us well at some point, but that do not really fit what we need to exist well in life. There are also memories of pain and betrayal that we store away, not willing to forgive and let go of ‘just in case’. These things can literally be a burden that we carry and that can weigh us down in life.
Discarding them is quite freeing and worth investigating to live a life that is fuller and more meaningful. There is freedom in letting go, in releasing what clutters your heart and mind. Jesus when talking about himself said, “If the son sets you free, you are free indeed.” (John 8:38). It is not an easy thing to do, but a short period of discomfort can bring such high rewards and including God in the process helps in the identification and helps with the healing.
Just as in a house, there is a limit to how much stuff you can hold onto before it becomes too restrictive. It can actually stop you enjoying life to the full. Take it from me, it is worth having a sort through from time to time and letting go. You gain a life better lived.