Saturday, January 15, 2011

The things I hang on to...

This Christmas break we have painted the livingroom and cleaned out several areas of the house, purging it of too small clothing, broken toys, and random junk.

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?


veggiemom said...

I totally hear you! I am much better than I used to be. Watching shows on TLC and HGTV where they go in and clean out someone's home really helped me learn to hang onto memories, not stuff. Still, I have plenty of sentimental, useless stuff sitting around. One of my goals this year is to purge and simplify. I'm working on it but it's a slow and painful process.

Sunita Poole said...

I have been cleaning out my scrapbook room! I took all my scrapbook stuff and went through it. I went and bought new containers and organized it. I also got rid of a lot of stuff and knew someone that would love it and appreciate it. I'm sure there was more I could have got rid of but I didn't. I still have yet to go through all my wrapping paper, gift boxes, purses, wedding stuff and much more. Work in progress though.

a moore said...

@ wants the trophy. you can talk about the approval of God all you want but the 6 yr old boy wants the approval of men, particularly the boy scouts handing him a huge trophy for the pinewood derby. maybe you could give it people for different things they do in your home. a piece of masking tape and you hand it to @ for the pinewood derby. we'll leave it in your "display case" a.k.a the back of the junk closet.

Michael Peterson said...

I love keeping old stuff for the memories they create within me. It kinda makes me a pack rat. Hey didn't I see a long box of comics behind that trophey too? :) Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts. Love your life too!