Of all tasks odious, nothing is worse than moving. Except, perhaps, the preparatory task of sorting through your stuff with a hard, ruthless purge. When we’re entrenched in life, it’s easy to be indulgent about accumulation, but re-location will focus your priority about the things really worth transporting.
This week saw me determinedly rampaging through storage boxes I have tolerated underfoot for far too long. The unstoppable passage of time simply declassifies things you once considered essential down to the merely trivial, into the totally annoying. I’m constantly amazed as I open the containers…what was I thinking? Did I really need to save those towels, to use as rags, just in case? How many photos of the same image are really necessary? How valuable are reams and reams of University class notes years after the scholastic challenge?
Which brings me to another interesting point; I’m finding that my little cheapskate soul absolutely hates to give anything away I paid top dollar for, no matter how obsolete it may be. I’m also loathe to abandon anything with creative potential…hence the magpie nest of sewing odds and ends, remnants, ribbons, paints, paper and magazine clippings. The Artiste must have her inspiration! For decades now, I’ve stockpiled goodies from the Thrift Store for my tiny, but perfectly equipped, chef’s kitchen - and I’m not even that zealous of a cook! This patient accumulation of truly superior objects has yet to find a home out in the open air. Consequently, I’m drowning under the weight of my own idealized notion of life, and it’s got to stop. There are things you hang on to because they represent the life you hope you will one day lead; the dreams and visions of that utopian existence somewhere over the rainbow. ‘One day’, you say to yourself, 'I will need this!’.
Maybe this edit isn’t so much an exercise in house-cleaning as it is in spiritual examination. If you really want to understand true priorities and figure out why you’re not getting the spiritual traction you’d like, consider what you’re holding and what you’re storing. Here, in the mass of paper and bubble-wrap, we have to confront what it is we truly value, treasure, and even worship. There’s a reason you’ve held on to this stuff, and it’s buried deep within your psyche. This paraphernalia is part of your identity, your past, your history, and your anticipation, so it’s not that easy to purge it out of either your soul or your garage. Our stored gear is a shrine to the image we hold of ourselves and the things we envision for achievement. Sometimes, it’s rather surprising, especially if you haven’t looked through the boxes in a good while.
Jesus once said something that must have shocked His listeners to the core. When a scribe came to him, longing to follow in His entourage, he simply asked for time to bury his father. Whether the man was still alive or just recently dead, Jesus replied
“Let the dead bury their own dead: You, follow me”. Matthew 8:22
In this forceful sentence, Jesus exposes our priorities. His words seem strident, even excessively harsh, as they lay bare the places of our dotage. What, exactly, does He mean? From His perspective, things that the world places such high priority upon are actually, totally, spiritually dead. Shockingly, (if you believe Jesus), they are imparting neither life to you here in this realm, nor in the realm to come. Don’t be fooled by the foaming froth of a myriad of activities or high velocity life of busy-ness; only one thing is needful. Are we doing, right here, right now, this very moment, what is blessed by His presence and power? Are we in the anointing?
It occurs to me that this is a very apropos word for the task I’m currently facing. The past is essentially dead, so why hold on to it, in any form? The older I get, the more I understand the power of the edit. Life will always bring accumulation, so how are we curating for true priority? Why are we hoarding our little treasures around us with such a ridiculous tenacity? Are we afraid that if we relinquish them, we somehow lose ourselves? Admittedly, memories and memorabilia are part of the voyage; a natural phenomenon, but we cannot grasp them as the fabric of our identity. We must look to the Lord for that.
As I dig through the packing, I realize what an emotional investment I feel in these bits and pieces. The burden is heavy, and the going is hard. So many memories, visceral reactions and wordless grief gets churned up; ancient voices of reviling. The malevolent gaze of an enemy turns on me again in my mind’s eye through remembered betrayals and rejection. Bit by bit, I grapple with the negativity, clipping it off, mentally and spiritually. Sin, and failure, self-sabotage; I confess them all. These disappointments, failures and accumulated disillusionment can only be extirpated one way; by turning them over to the Lord. For better or for worst, they’re His now, to do with as He will. They’re under the Blood, and woe to the idiot who dares go looking! I give you my past, Lord, and release it. I’m pealing off the sack-cloth and ashes of a life old and dead; exchanging them for the beautiful, gossamer mantle of righteousness waiting for me. Present and future wait in all their pristine glory.
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. Revelation 21:4-6
I feel light as a feather already.