I have the same problem as she does.
My father is a giving person. I can remember going out with him to the mini-market when I was a child, and he would let my older sister and I pick out a favorite snack...a little bag of pistachios, a brownie in a package, an ice cream sandwich. He would often come home with a little trinket of some kind for us. He showed his love by giving us little things to let us know he was thinking about us.
I kept those trinkets, those reminders that my dad loves me. It was very hard for me to imagine just throwing them away. I kept letters and notes from friends. I kept the little bookmarks I had received in classrooms and Bible school. I kept my childhood stuffed animals. "Things" symbolized memories to me.
Thankfully, I had a mother who threw things in the trash, usually when I was out. I think I would have filled the whole house if she didn't. Even still, I had boxes and boxes of stuff when I married. My husband refused to be buried in the boxes and helped me weed through what I didn't need. It was incredibly hard for me, so I picked out the 5 or so things that really meant the most to me from my dad, handed my husband the garbage bag, and let a few tears fall as he pitched my stuff into the darkness of the bag. I was afraid I'd feel the calls of my things, like the Velveteen rabbit I'd read about in my childhood storybook. But I didn't. In fact, it was just the opposite. I felt relieved.
Stuff is just that: stuff. Certainly, there are important things and heirlooms. Some things carry history with them, like my husband's wooden butter mold that was his great grandmother's,
the ring that was his grandfather's,
my great grandmother's platter.
Some things are just too dear and sentimental, like the little box that holds the sweet letters kept by my husband's grandfather to and from his grandmother, as well as pictures of when they were young.
There's the little iron cart and horse that is one of the only things I have from my grandmother and
the handmade cabin my husband's grandfather made.
It is a lesson I am now trying to teach to my daughter. She keeps the packaging from toys, pamphlets with horses on them, old stickers she has peeled up too many times for them to stick anymore.
She cries when things get thrown away, or worse yet, she digs them out of the trash when I'm not looking, and I wonder how these things keep coming back. She holds onto things like her mother used to, and I want to spare her from that trouble. I struggle with hurting her feelings, but wanting her to learn to...
Letting go is a worthwhile ability to master as much as appreciating and treasuring things. Sometimes it is a step of courage and an act of betterment. It almost brings a breeze of fresh air into the soul. But for those of us who make every favorite moment into a treasure we want to physically hold, it can be hard...really hard. I find myself fighting the "but what if I need this...what if someday I can't buy this item again...what if..." shadowed by the two or three times when it actually happened that I needed the tossed item and had to go searching for a new one. But I have to tell myself: the weight of all the things I have let go and not needed is far superior to those handful of times when I have missed them. The fragile precipice of needing and appreciating things stands incredibly close to the pitfall of being in bondage to the things we live with. Finding that line is a tricky thing to learn, and an even more difficult one to teach. A cozy home is often one rich with beautiful, meaningful things, but also one that is not cluttered with unimportant stuff...
or worse yet, junk.
And so I try to help her...by weeding through my closet and getting rid of things I don't wear or need, rummaging out the cupboards full of dishware stacks that will never see the armies they could feed, letting go of craft supplies for entire classrooms of 30 kids rather than the three whose eyeballs peer over their books into mine, relinquishing old trinkets and stuff that just clutters up the house while appreciating and caring for the things that are found to be worthy of some space.
The gift that goes on giving in life isn't always one that keeps. Sometimes, by letting go and giving up those things we have been collecting for the dust and spiders to web up, we are releasing blessings waiting to be transferred to the hands that actually need them.
It is a journey we are on,
and we are stumbling through it together.
(We all have certain love languages...ways we express love, ways we feel loved. Sometimes, that helps us see why we expect love in certain measures; or why we feel disappointed if those expectations are not met. It is helpful to face these expectations. Here is a great place to see what your love language is: www.5lovelanguages.com Surprisingly, mine turned out to be "words of affirmation" rather than "receiving gifts" as the person inside of me would have thought, what with having a hard time letting go of things. But I guess we all need a bit of all the love languages anyhow, don't ya' think? The test is a fun one to take to figure out your own.)
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