Much of it, I've gone through before....some of it, several times over the years. I open a box, pick up the items and turn them over in my hand, asking silent questions like
what could I do with this?
who could I give this to?
am I really ever going to use this again?
And as I sort thru it once again, I begin to wonder why it is I hang on to some of it?
My Master's thesis research sits in a box. Surveys and notes and a textbook on the Stone-Campbell Movement....I DID eventually finish my degree, but never completed that project. At first I held on to it "just in case" I decided to finish....or maybe I kept it because it made me feel important or because I liked the idea of having my own research project in a closet....self-importance....superiority...or maybe it was because, after 15 years I still have some guilt over not finishing that research project and couldn't bear to throw it all away and admit I failed.
I get to the back of the closet and find an old Forensics trophy (Forensics is a fancy word for Speech Team, and has nothing to do with cutting open dead bodies). I won it in 1988 at the National Forensics Tournament in Nashville, TN as a high school Senior. It was a 2nd place trophy, but the biggest one I'd ever won. For years we joked about ways I could tastefully display a massive trophy in our house, like making it into a lamp or a hat stand....until finally, it ended up in the back of the junk closet, broken and wobbly.
It seems ridiculous that I would still have a 23 year old trophy from high school. But if I'm honest, the trophy reminds me, in the midst of cooking meals and doing laundry and cleaning toilets, that I was really good at something. I love being a mom. But no one gives you a trophy for that...or a Christmas bonus...or a special parking spot with your name on it. I've kept the trophy for so long because as much as I want to live for God's approval alone, the approval of men feels good.
The junk closet is clean now, and we've taken 2 different trips to Goodwill. The research went into the recycling bin....but the trophy went back in the closet. I still think a lamp might be nice....
What does your stuff say about what you value? What are the things you hang on to?