In the town where I was raised, our family relocated like nomadic gypsies. While we lived in the same small berg for 14 years, we moved five times, an average of 2.8 years in each abode. We didn’t allow much time to let the grass grow before we set our sights on new digs. I’m not certain the reasons behind all these moves from one end of town to the other. I don’t think we were run out of neighborhoods for too many dandelions or breaking a noise ordinance. We certainly didn't display our appliances on the front porch. It’s not like my parents had 17 annoying children harassing the neighbors, either. Three is a pretty normal number, and we definitely were quite angelic. So, why we moved from house to house, I don’t really know unless my dad has gypsy roots. This hopping around like rabbits resulted in purging possessions as frequently as emptying our trash.
In any case, I’ve learned to simplify along the way since for many years, I too, carried this gypsy gene in my veins. Until this last house in which I’ve resided for the last 11 years, I had relocated 15 times in 15 years, a measly year in each place. Goodness, a year is only enough time to move in, unpack and begin looking for a new dwelling! I felt like a squirrel scrambling up one tree, unloading a few acorns, only to set his sights on the next tree, looking for that place to call home. I didn’t have time to become a packrat or a collector of Precious Moments or Lladro. An itinerant lifestyle doesn’t lend itself to piling up possessions like Adele collecting awards at the Grammy’s.
So, now that I’ve managed to settle down in one domicile for almost an eternity, I’ve stockpiled, stuffed, and stored belongings that otherwise would have been eliminated in one of my 40,000 moves. Four overflowing bookshelves, an army of toys, and ancient relics from the past threatened a coup. Thus, I embarked on a journey to eradicate unnecessary items seeking to bully us from our dwelling. My first stop, the basement storage, which hosted not only Christmas décor, but also those important artifacts from yesteryear that neither hubby nor I could bear to part with. It goes without saying that I keep a few sentimental items from the kids’ baby years, not to mention those valuable high school year books with such meaningful comments as “stay sweet” and “wish’d I could’ve spent more time with you” from friends that I haven’t talked to in 30 years.
I’m not quite sure why the man of the house complains about my growing mountain of books while he clings to Accounting and Calculus textbooks from ancient times. Surely, combs with teeth missing don’t pack sentimental value. And, why does he continue to save ski maps of Aspen and Vale from 1982? What causes us to cling to these articles that sit uselessly in the dark? It’s like those clothes I simply can’t discard because I might wear them—someday. Lest I place all the blame on my poor partner, why on earth do I keep research papers from college or high school unless I need to spark a bonfire? Do I really want to show my daughter my piano evaluation that displays my hapless grade on practicing and dynamics (the very things she struggles with)? I might not be a packrat in the truest sense of the word, but what objects do I keep hidden away…just.in.case—like the two indoor water fountains that we might display someday, or the million tote bags tucked away, or the tent we’ve never used (nor will we, if I have any say). The list is endless…
And so, I simplified the storage. I emptied boxes like my 20-year-old son eats cereal. Forty-old-combs and thirty-year-old maps disappeared, and the “we might use them someday” fountains recycled. The tent was miraculously saved for “one of those years”. The storage closet, now condensed and compact like a smart car, whereas before, navigating that room was like a soldier tiptoeing across a mine field. Boxes precariously positioned and items haphazardly strewn about endangered anyone entering the room.
Cleaning out unnecessary items is cathartic. Especially for the soul. What menacing matters jeopardize my heart? What clutters my conscience? Am I hiding, harboring, or hanging onto something like a child refusing to unclench her favorite blanket or stuffed animal to be washed? Do I really think I can keep anything secret from the One who sees all?
“You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.” Psalm 90:8
So often I convince myself that if no one else knows about my anger simmering like soup, God is oblivious to it as well. Then, I read words about God creating me in the secret place, and I remember nothing is hidden from my Creator.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.” Psalm 139:15-16
He, who created me, is intimately familiar with everything that makes me tick. As I ponder this verse, I comprehend how strangely comforting this truth is. The God of the Universe knows me—the terrible thoughts, the shady secrets, the awful attitudes—and loves me in spite of what lurks in my heart. While others might recoil, Jesus embraces me. He exposes my sin in the light of His presence and invites me to experience His forgiveness, like the woman caught in the act of adultery. Her sin uncovered and accusers gone, Jesus forgives and summons her to live differently—to expunge damaging deeds done in the dark.
And so, He calls all of us to walk in the light, to eradicate concealed cargo that we grip tightly to. As we let go, our hearts can be filled with His goodness and grace. Just as our storage compartments are expunged of unnecessary clutter, so our hearts are freed from those secret sins which weigh us down.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24