Monday, May 20, 2019

A time to cast away

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away...
-Ecclesiastes 3:1-6

Change is stressful. But there's no way to avoid it.
Change is inevitable--except from vending machines.
The time has come for me to pack up the contents of a 2-1/2 bedroom house and condense it to fit into much smaller living area.  And as anyone who's ever had to do this can attest, I am struck by the fact that I have Way Too Much Stuff.
If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we aren't really living.
― Anatole France
Image from Mrs. Brown (from Pixabay)
I'm going through all the things that I've been storing in the attic and garage and all I can think is... why? Why did I feel the need to carry all this around with me? Most of the storage was composed of material items that had lost any sentimental value they ever possessed. I hadn't used these things in ten years, so they didn't fall into the "but I might need it" category.
Identifying the things that make you happy: that is the work of tidying.
-Marie Kondo
The process of sorting through all the boxes was painful. I'd always managed to put it off in favor of more useful activities. (Or much less useful activities, to be honest.) But purging had an unexpected side effect on my mood. After I had donated all the excess to charity, I felt lighter myself. As if I had been carrying the weight of all these unwanted items, or the thought of them, in the back of my mind. I did Not Need All This Stuff.
What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.
― Abraham Maslow
People often accumulate Stuff to insulate themselves from being buffeted about by life. It doesn't always make you happier, but it can prove a distraction--not just from the unpleasant events in life, but from essentials. There is no way I'm going to take all these belongings on my final journey, and crowding my life with things I don't need takes my focus away from what's important.
Well and good if all things change, O Lord God, provided I am rooted in You.
― St. John of the Cross
 Getting rid of all these unwanted items left me free to concentrate on what mattered to me. On the people that mattered to me. And on higher things.

Have you ever tried purging your life of the clutter that distracts you from what is essential?
Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
-Matthew 19:21

Evelyn M. Hill is a multi-published author who lives at the end of the Oregon Trail. Her debut book, His Forgotten FiancĂ©e, was published by Love Inspired Historical. Her latest book, The English Lieutenant's Lady, deals with British spies in the Oregon Territory (based on actual events). 
When not being distracted by her cat, she writes inspirational romances set in Oregon. She loves to hear from readers. Please visit her website or sign up for her newsletter.


  1. I am so with you. We just packed up Grandpa's house and I don't want my son to someday stare at my senior yearbook and thinking, "Do I need to keep this?"
    My sister-in-law is following the rigers of a book that gives one goal a day. Recently, Patti spend the day just going through her linen closest.
    Here's to change!

    1. Pamela, I'm so impressed with your sister-in-law sorting through things ahead of time! It's wonderful to be able to embrace change and see it as a positive :)

  2. Evelyn, such a lovely post! I have a house filled with stuff that needs to be sorted through and given away, some to children but the bulk to charity. Like you, I always find something else to do that strikes my fancy.

    1. On the plus side, being faced with a large number of boxes to go through is a great way to come up with ideas for new stories! I'm always impressed with how creative my subconscious can get when it's trying to get out of purging.

  3. Having just gone through a move, I completely relate! We got rid of quite a bit as we were packing for the move, and we are getting rid of even more now that we're settling into our new home. The older I get, the more I have to ask myself, "Why are you keeping stuff that you don't use and you don't need?" Paring down possessions is sometimes scary, but it can be so refreshing not to have all that extra stuff weighing you down both physically and emotionally.

    1. Myra, good for you! I think that's fantastic that you're still going through and getting rid of stuff after the move. And I agree, it is refreshing to let it go!

  4. As I packed up the contents of mother's home to sell at an estate sale I was in shock and awe at the number of things my mother kept. Her health wasn't good at the end but she couldn't even part with an unread magazine. Or unread junk mail. No kidding, a huge plastic tub of unopened junk mail. I do not want my grandchildren to feel I'd rather keep stuff than do stuff with them.

  5. Unread junk mail? I believe it.
    I ran across an old diary from when I was a teenager. I do /not/ want future generations reading that! The level of angst was enormous. Also the level of idealism, but still. Not keeping that.

  6. I can so relate. We are in the very beginning stages of trying to get our four bedroom house ready to sell. I look around and am overwhelmed by the amount of stuff we have. In 2016 I bought and read Marie Kondo's book and I cleaned out my clothes. I took more than a dozen stuffed full 13 gallon garbage bags to good will. And I need to go through my closet again! I see things that at the time I thought I'd wear again but haven't. They need to go. And do get me started on my office or the garage. I get tired thinking about it.

    1. Terri -- YES. That's what I'm wresting with right now. The mental fatigue of having to sort through all these things and make decisions. I'm forcing myself to keep a steady pace rather than trying to sprint through everything and end up exhausted.
      Though I am tempted to simply box up all these belongings, put them on the lawn, and play Let's Make a Deal. ("You want to know what's in box #2? Five dollars and it's all yours.")


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