I feel like this is a constant battle in my house. Husband and I were both packrats before we got married and brought a lot of Stuff into our family. Over the years, every time we’ve moved (and we have moved quite a bit) we have shed some of that Stuff and accumulated very little by comparison. This time, with an eviction looming and economic hardship at our door, we are preparing to move from a two bedroom townhome to a one bedroom apartment. With kids and pets. Hopefully it will be a very temporary situation. Our parents have graciously offered to let us store some things at their houses, but neither set has much space to offer. So when we found out what exactly we were facing this time around, we began to declutter with abandon. Husband has finally let go of fifteen year old t-shirts for bands he hasn’t cared anything about in at least five. The kids and I have shed close to half of their toys and books. My wardrobe has shrunk by about a third. We’ve culled DVDs and wedding presents that haven’t seen enough use to keep. There have been things we had copies of for upstairs and downstairs that we’ll only need one of at the new apartment. Some of it has been hard to let go of, but mostly it’s been very freeing. A lot of it I’ve been meaning to take to the thrift shop/animal shelter/women’s shelter for ages, but never got around to it. And the more we get rid of, the more I hate Stuff.
We live in a society of excess, and this is never more apparent to me than when preparing for a move. Each time, I am amazed and disgusted at the things that have been gathering dust since our LAST move (those things never accompany us for a second move). God has slowly, painstakingly molded me from a packrat to a minimalist over the past decade through many moves, and through showing me poverty. He has sent me to barren lands where the people make do with so much less, and seem happier for it in some cases or just cannot comprehend the luxury in which we live. One experience that sticks with me is from a mission trip I went on with my youth group. A girl about my age noticed I was wearing different jeans from the day before. She was enamored with them, wanting to inspect the hems, touch the seams. She gushed about how new they looked. And then she asked me if I had more. I blushed and lied: I said I had seven pairs, but in reality at the time I probably had more than ten. Her eyes opened wide, she called me rich (I’d never thought of myself that way before) and asked where I kept these seven pairs of jeans. So we began to talk about closets and dressers, and how even the poor kids at my school all had two or three pairs of jeans. That week, my world began to change. My worldview, my normal, shifted. What is your normal? What do you think is normal in terms of possessions for any ordinary person? Do you crave more, or are you constantly fighting for less? What role does Stuff play in your life, and what role do you think it should play?