Back a half a year ago or so, a small earthquake in southern Illinois radiated far enough east to successfully remove the overloaded “clothing management system” from the wall on my side of our master bedroom walk-in closet. As it took five months for me to locate the replacement wall connectors to reattach the system, and I have been too busy to deal with them once I bought them, the system remains unattached.
This means the majority of my clothing is in plastic bins sitting on our bedroom floor.
Over time, the amount of clothing seemed to pile up, and I went from two bins to five. Annoyed that my clothing should occupy so many bins and so little drawer space, etc., I decided to consolidate.
In sorting through this clothing, the realization that I throw away just about nothing hit home. If anyone needs clothing for extras in the next Night of the Living Dead sequel, call me. I don’t know what it is about me that I have no qualms about wearing jeans that look like they were savaged by a pack of rabid wolves, but there you go. I guess when you do farmwork, any excuse for work clothes will suffice.
At least that’s what I tell myself. It’s the other clothing I can’t explain.
Truthfully, I’m not sure I can come up for a reason for the following:
7 pairs of dress pants
8 long-sleeved dress shirts
8 long-sleeved casual shirts
11 pairs of casual pants or jeans
3 sweatpants/sweatshirt combos
5 pullover sweaters
12 pairs of short pants
9 short-sleeved Polo shirts
I could go on. I’m sure most of you could, too, if you did the same inventory.
And sure, some of my stuff has seen its better day, as in “not fit for Goodwill.” But still. I want to come up with an explanation, but I can’t except to say that even a cheapskate like me who hasn’t bought more clothing in the last two years than two pair of “Sunday go t’ meetin'” pants is still beholden to consuming.
As simply as I try to live, I still have too much stuff. And when I try to tell people I don’t really need them to buy me more stuff, they do anyway. My in-laws were concerned that our home was devoid of stuff that screams Christmas, so they asked if they could remedy the situation so that our son didn’t miss out on the atmosphere of the season. So they bought us outdoor lights and some garland. We put them up this weekend and they look nice. I very much appreciate my in-laws’ generosity.
Still, it’s more stuff.
I keep trying to find ways to give away stuff, but it never seems to work.
I lie awake at night because I realize that I may have to explain myself someday to my Creator and I’ll have no good reason for all my stuff. When I think of whose expense that stuff may have come by, I sleep even less.
Something about building even bigger barns troubles me.
7 thoughts on “No Good Reason”
Don’t lose sleep over your “stuff”.
God knows who and what you are…a sinner. A little more stuff isn’t going to dig the hole any deeper…it’s already too deep for us to remedy.
And as far as your stuff being a detriment to others, naw, the fact that you or someone else bought that stuff, was a help to others. Someone had to make it (got paid), someine had to sell it (got paid).
We’re all in the same (crowded) boat.
“When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes?” (Ecc. 5:11 KJV). That verse explained many things my late father owned. He did not use some of the expensive things he bought. He just liked to have them so he could look at them.
My uncle died this year. His house was crammed with useless stuff. He owned two or three freight train cars out in the country, also full of junk. My Mom rooted through her things, threw out, and gave away anything she knew we would not want when she passed. After dealing with my uncle’s estate, I am glad!
I moved a friend who owned too much stuff. His second bedroom was organized, but otherwise filled floor to ceiling, wall to wall, with just enough room to get in the door. Each wall socket and light switch had had its faceplate swapped with a designer faceplate. He also is divorced. After being around him long enough, I was not surprised. His ideas about how to live would crowd out anyone else’s creativity.
My family keeps a vase on the fireplace mantel. That is all that is left of everything my great-grandmother owned.
I own lots of Christian T-shirts, most of which do not fit me. I keep saying I will lose weight. Then they will. But some I keep because they come from youth retreats and mission trips. Memories.
I suffered an interesting dilemma for a while. Any time I would clean up, the density of the piles of stuff in my rooms would decrease, but the volume of the piles would stay the same. It never looked like I had cleaned up any, even though stuff had been thrown away and put away.
My legally blind friend broke a secondhand microwave her friend bought her when her son tried to punch Braille numbers into the keypad. By the next day or two, she had two microwaves, given to her by two friends. My Mom planned to give her a microwave she was keeping in case her microwave went on the fritz. She had gotten that microwave from my older brother. She also considered giving her the microwave from my late uncle’s estate. Americans have stuff coming out of their ears!
Years ago, when my asylee friend moved from one apartment to another, I was shocked at how much stuff one person could accumulate in so short a time.
Hey Dan, I started feeling the same way a few months ago. I decided to get rid of half of my clothes, which ended up meaning a lawn and garden trash bag so full that I can neither tie it nor lift it without help. God help us all.
Did your in-laws pay for the electricity to power the lights too?
“Life is full of piles” wrote a certain Christian author many moons ago. A friend of ours lost their barn to a fire last Christmas, and it plunged them into a depression because they realized that so much of what they thought they had given to God was burned to ashes. No gold there. They determined to not focus on building more barns, but rather emptying themselves for Christ. Now there is a bigger barn on the farm, and more chickens. And a replacement dog for the one that died in the fire. I’m not sure what the lesson is. “Less is more” is attractive, but somehow, after emptying the rooms, sweeping up, and generally making things clean, it just invites more junk: “Twice as ready…” as it were.
My house is small, and we are constantly battling the increase of “stuff”. Thankfully we don’t have a rented storage rooms somewhere. But this consumer nightmare we find ourselves in, almost accidentally buying more, needs to become more deliberate. Perhaps keeping in mind the Bangledeshi girl who sewed our shirt, or the Salvadoran mother who stitched our pants, will make us think twice about how much we need something new. Perhaps a homeless man will make us reconsider wearing something until it falls apart.
But more than that, I suppose, is the deliberateness of our heart in the morning, and the constancy of our devotion to God throughout the day. I’m convinced that many of the agonies we go through are due to the fact that unlike Elijah, we don’t recognize the calm, subtle breeze as the presence of God. If we listened, perhaps then we would not have the stress of uncertainty, but rather the peace of knowing.
Then, like Paul, we would learn to be content in all situations. With piles, or not.
I fought this my entire life. My parents not being believers and falling for the typical consumeristic ploys thought that the more they gave me stuff wise, the more loved I’d feel. Instead I got screamed at for not being able to keep my room clean (I have pics) when it was utterly impossible to contain the clutter and the seemingly hurt feelings when I wanted to pitch stuff.
There is this odd expectation that if someone gives you a gift, you are required to keep, use, and display it. I think a good part of the clutter in our lives is from stuff people have given us. Thing is, if they really knew us, it would be something we truly needed/wanted so there wouldn’t be extra. How many times have you thought, “if they’d taken the money they spent on all this and put it together with others, I’d have the new tires I need… etc” Insert your own need you can’t seem to afford here.
It’s a mindset. Marrying my husband I had to battle it as well. Thank God He hears prayers because we went from a 2000 sq ft house with a garage to a 2brm townhouse with no storage. We only moved what we needed. We sorted everything. We sold stuff, we gave stuff away. We still have stuff I’ve tried to find homes for. (Boxes of theology and Christian books mostly). Books are my downfall.
What is it about clutter?
I remember a nun I worked for years ago. She had such a simple room. A bed. A chair. One bookshelf, a side table and a dresser. A small closet. That was everything. I asked her if that was everything. She said something that stuck with me. “Needing more than what is required right now, shows lack in faith that God will bring us what we need, when we truly need it. This is everything I need for right now.”
Yeouch. I still carry that.