210 Tickets to Freedom

Linking up today with Suzie Eller’s  Live Free Thursday and its topic–“It’s just stuff.” Boy, do I know stuff . . .

 

Last summer, my daughter and I embarked on a second round of Jen Hatmaker’s book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.

We got rid of stuff.

210 items, to be exact. Each of us.

Seven things, each and every day.

The craft room purge alone was enough to fulfill the Pinterest boards of a small country.

I am a hoarder. Not bad enough to get myself on a TV show that embarrasses my children to the third generation, but a hoarder, still. I keep stuff. Too much of it.

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Or maybe I just need to get this book?

For example, the five pairs of great jeans I kept for years, because some day, they would fit again. You know what I’m saying here. I loved those jeans, and they had not gotten nearly enough wear before my size, ahem, changed.

Fast forward a while. I took them out last year, after having lost weight due to illness. Tried them on, all excited to get to wear those fashionable things again. Guess what? They were huge. I saved those jeans for years, and they never, ever fit again. (Plus, the likelihood of them still being fashionable was . . . not.)

So why not give them away years ago, when they still were fashionable and someone else could have worn them? Because they were still perfectly good. The fact is, from cars to clothes to craft items, this family doesn’t get rid of anything that still works. Usually, that’s a positive trait.

But what about when it’s not perfectly good for us? See, I’ve been asking the wrong question all this time when looking at something and deciding whether to give it away, throw it away, or keep it. My question has been, “Is it still good? Can I still use it?”

I’ve transitioned into looking at it another way. To ask another question.

“Is it still good for me? Will I still use it?

Or—is it perfectly good in order to bless someone else who needs it? I can’t let go of something, even something I will never use, if it still can be used. Even if it’s a pair of jeans that was two sizes too small, and is now five sizes too big. How crazy is that?

Do not answer that question.

 

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It makes me ask other questions. What other things can’t I let go of? If my hold on material stuff is so strong, how is my hold on other stuff? Intangible stuff that, like piles of unused clothes and craft materials, can strangle the life and sanity out of a person? Stuff that takes up too much mental space with my need to cling to it and defend my possession of it.

The need to be right.

The need to defend myself.

The fear that someone else is doing better.

The pursuit of safe work rather than the risks God wants.

Doing what’s easy rather than what’s necessary.

The defense of my time.

The right to get angry.

Are there other things I can’t let go of, even when it would bless others immeasurably if I jettisoned them ASAP?

 

I’m here to tell you, getting rid of stuff is freeing. My closet and my craft room and my sanity thank me. But I suspect that getting rid of mental junk is even better. I think I’m going to work on some questions to ask about that kind of stuff.

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4.8
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