After one move across the country and two moves within the same city — all within a span of 12 months — I’ve added Expert Packer to my resume.
The first move involved going from Colorado to Missouri and putting all my things in storage. I got married seven months after that, so I moved into my husband’s house. The merging of two lives and two households of stuff was quite a challenge. Then five months later, we moved to a house closer to our workplaces. It has been a learning experience.
After so many moves, I’ve learned that I’ll probably never be a minimalist, even though I like the idea. But I’ve also learned how my attachment to my stuff is really a reflection of what is in my heart.
I’m not a pack rat, and my rule is that when I buy a new piece of clothing, something else has to go. But I am a sentimental saver. As a result, during the moves I found myself digging through books, souvenirs from trips I’ve taken, dishes from my grandma — all representing memories I wanted to preserve.
I also had a lot of things for the “what if I need this someday?” scenario. For example: I kept an entire set of tea cups just in case I ever needed to host an English tea-themed bridal shower; and I also kept a vintage dress, just in case I got invited to a 1950s party. Neither of these scenarios have happened, just in case you’re wondering. But somehow, having stuff for every occasion made me feel more in control of the future.
Breaking up with my stuff
Because I was single for most of my 20s and early 30s, wondering about the future often made me anxious. I worried about who would take care of me when I was old. If I didn’t have a husband, who would remind me to put in my dentures so that I didn’t scare the neighborhood children? Without an answer to questions like these, I found comfort in at least trying to be prepared for any future scenarios. So I accumulated a lot of stuff, just in case.
This stuff made me feel more in control when my relationship status felt so out of my control. It brought me some small measure of peace. But, having moved all of that stuff three times in a year, I’ve discovered that it was actually a burden. Yes, it was a physical burden to pack and unpack it at each new house, but it was also a burden keeping me from growing in my faith.
I realized how much of my faith was in the things I had collected, rather than in God, the Creator of all good things. He is the one who sustains me, and He is the center by which all things hold together. My stuff won’t be what sustains me, whether single or married.
As I gradually got rid of so much of my unnecessary stuff over the course of my moves, it was incredibly freeing. Being willing to part with some of my most treasured possessions has helped me see where my treasure really is — and where it isn’t.
More and more stuff isn’t the answer to the cry of my anxious heart. It’s more and more of Jesus.