July 1, 2012 Volume 26, Number 07
Decluttering: a matter of stewardship?
By Henry Friesen | ChristianWeek Columnist
Photo by Unnar Ymir
Three moves are as good as a fire!
It's a bad joke to people who have experienced a fire. But the folks packing up their house to relocate soon realize it's not a joke at all.
My neighbours recently listed their home. Before the "for sale" sign went up, they rented a storage unit so they could "declutter." Leasing extra space was less painful than taking the time to make "to keepor not to keep" decisions.
They told me about their friends, who also leased a storage unit before selling their former home. They kept renting it for a year after moving. When it was finally emptied, they did the math: the value of the stored items, evidently unneeded for an entire year, was less than the rent paid.
Our society thrives on clutter. We move to a bigger house with more storage space and consider that success. When the house is full, we fill the garage and park our expensive vehicles outside. And the auto-body shops love us for the extra business they get after a hailstorm.
Why do we buy stuff we don't need and often don't even use? It's the proverbial $64,000 question! Can we blame it on the hundreds of ads we encounter every day? Or can we fault our politicians, who chide us for piling up too much debt one day, then encourage us to stimulate the economy the next?
Let's use clothes as a test case. Some think you can never have too many neckties, shoes, T-shirts and more. Meanwhile most of the items collect dust. And the majority of what we discard is barely worn in, never mind worn out!
A friend, also a pastor, recently made this observation: "We need to make lifestyle choices in advance. If we don't, we will end up with more things than we need. And it will be to the detriment of our spiritual lives."
His concern was that focusing on things is a distraction. Whether our mantra is "I want more stuff," or we just seem to collect it without trying, "things" can easily interfere with our relationship with God and others.
Are you wondering what your "stuff level" is? Would you like a little perspective? Empty your bedroom closet contents on to your bed. You'll probably also need the floor--and maybe more. The results might be surprising, maybe even shocking!
If the thought of cleaning out your closet causes marital stress, just do a "stuff count." Then brainstorm creative ways to declutter with your family. Don't leave it for your children to deal with.
Would there be a downturn in Canada's economy if each of us decluttered? What if we also managed to avoid buying things we don't need? Chances are we'll never know. As long as our society convinces us that "more stuff" will bring happiness and fulfillment, that's one thing our government won't have to worry about.
Henry Friesen declutters in Niverville.