Wednesday, October 7, 2015

T is for Too Much Stuff

My young friend Tori commented on two scripture verses about stuff. As soon as I saw her Facebook post, I knew T would stand for Too Much Stuff. Because I have Too Much Stuff. She has given permission to use her words.

Tori wrote:

This verse reminds me of a friend of mine doing an estate sale of her parents’ property. The family was completely crushed under the weight, not only of the grief, but of needing to rid themselves of so many material things. Selling them for almost nothing just to get rid of all of the things her mom had accumulated during a lifetime. 

These are the kinds of things that we labor for, we press forward in working and earning money for items that will be thrown out or sold for pennies when we die. Put your energy into things that have eternal value. Put your energy into loving people, in changing lives. It's the only thing that will still be valued when we come to the end of our time in this life. The way we spent our time, the way we spent our love, and the times we spent our money on others in an act of love.

     Here are the verses that prompted Tori’s insights. I’ve chosen to use the New Living Translation.

We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it. And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you. Psalm 39:6 – 7, NLT

Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. Matthew 6:19 – 21, NLT

I made this meme a few months ago with PicMonkey.
Then last week, a friend spoke of the challenge of moving from a big farmhouse into her compact new home. She said she had to face her own materialism. It was a reminder to me that I intended to write about Too Much Stuff.

I’m not a hoarder. (I think.) But I do have a hard time parting with items that have emotional significance for me. Even if I’m never going to use them again. Or have never used them at all. 

I have some useless wedding gifts that I have never used in forty years and will probably not use in the next forty. (Hence the logical designation “useless.”) I don’t even know who gave them to me. Like this set of four glass plates with four glass cups that sit in indentations on the plates. They’re textured, shiny, and iridescent. (Wow, I spelled that right on the first try!) They’re very pretty. But they’re too dainty and the cups don’t hold enough liquid to even start a caffeine buzz. Do you want them? If you’re willing to pay for shipping, I’ll send them to you. If you’re the person who gave them to me, I apologize for never using them. I’m a terrible human being. You don’t have to pay shipping.
I did not take this picture, but these are the exact same plates!

Part of my problem is that when I have gotten rid of things, I’ve regretted it. I had boxes of all the letters and cards my mother ever sent me while I was away at college, then later while I was far away in a foreign nation called Texas, and later still while I was  away in a closer foreign nation called Pennsylvania. I decided to pare down the collection and I probably threw out more letters and cards than I saved. Then my mom up and died of ovarian cancer and I really wish I still had those letters. 

Not all of the Too Much Stuff is mine. Much of the Too Much Stuff belongs to my husband. Too many theology books and Bible commentaries. Too many horns. Too many neckties. Too many belts. Too many shirts. Too many pairs of shoes, but Gubin’s in Northumberland was going out of business, and what dapper man is going to resist buying leather dress shoes for $5 a pair? I have to share a closet with this man.

Most of our Too Much Stuff has very little financial value. I buy my clothes on sale or at thrift stores. I’m sure my wardrobe will be donated back to the thrift stores when my time ends.

I can never have too many Christmas bears.
I realize I have written Too Many Words about Too Much Stuff, and I haven’t solved my problem. In fact, I’ve made things worse. Since I started writing this post—a week ago—I have acquired more stuff. Friday night I bought a print book, something I usually don't do since I have my Kindle. And just a few minutes ago, I returned from a peaceful walk in the October sunshine, but since I resist walking without a destination, I ended up at the Salvation Army. And there I found two bears who wanted to come home and celebrate Christmas at my house with all of the other bears who hibernate in plastic tubs all year.

Tell you what:  When I die—not to be morbid, but death is in my future—put my favorite bear in my coffin. (You know which one I mean, the one I call Lucky because he stays in bed all day.) Bring all the other bears to the church, and after the memorial service, everyone adopt a bear. 

Give it away. Or keep it if you’re a hoarder. Which I’m not. (I think.)

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