You know what I'm talking about. That room that's sort of a catch-all for all the stuff you have that doesn't really have a place but you don't want to get rid of it because you "might use it one day". That room where you throw anything that's just laying around when a last minute guest is coming by and then it ends up staying there permanently. Maybe yours goes by the name of a "storage building" that you pay monthly for. Yeah. You know what I'm talking about.
Well, we had a room like that and it was bad! We just celebrated our three year wedding anniversary and this room had grown exponentially since that time. It started out with just some boxes from when I moved in after we got married. Then it started piling up as we would just put things in there to "go through later". It started out in our office but eventually it moved to our spare bedroom to make room in our office. Then, we had our son so it all moved back to our office to make room for baby.
It was basically a mobile dumpster of stuff that neither of us had any desire to go through.... so we didn't.
While reading "Radical", we were convicted about how much stuff we have. Things we don't need and don't use that just clutter our home. But not only the things in our "junk room", but the surplus of dishes, pots, pans, towels (yes, you can have too many), clothing, shoes, bags, etc. Seriously, once we sat down objectively and evaluated, we were blown away by how much we really had.
It took us taking off our "American eyes" and seeing it from a Biblical perspective. By "American eyes", I mean the way that we look at what we own and somehow justify it because we don't have as much stuff as "that other guy". Sure, compared to a LOT of people in the USA, we don't have a lot. But compared to the majority of the rest of the world, we have enough for several families!
So once again we were faced with a choice: get rid of the excess and use it somehow for good, or keep it and let it take up space in our homes, serving no purpose but to make our lives more stressful. (If you're like me, clutter = stress.)
We chose Plan A and here's what we did:
- Cleaned out the cabinets. We had so many dishes, pots, pans, appliances, and utensils that we never used. Who needs 3 skillets, 3 sets of dishes, 4 spatulas, 2 coffee makers, 2 deep friers, 3 crock pots, and cups and glasses out the wazoo?? A hotel maybe? Anyway, we downsized our kitchen big time! We left only enough dishes for us plus two in case we had friends over for dinner and got rid of any duplicate appliances and more than half of our cups and glasses.
- Got rid of some towels. When we got married, it seemed everyone thought it important to give us towels. "You can never have too many," we were told. Turns out, that's not true. More than 15 towels for two people (Elliott has his own, too) seems a bit on the excessive side. So we cut those down to less than half. This gave us a wonderful amount of space in our bathroom closet, not to mention cut down the towel load for the washer tremendously! (What can you do with used towels, you ask? There are animal shelters that are constantly asking for towels and bed linens. Or, as in our case, you may have a family member whose son just moved out and took most of theirs! ha!)
- Emptied the closets of excess. I think Richard was most happy about this one. We don't have a lot of closet space in our house (read: one closet), so it's hard to organize and maintain organization unless you're on top of it daily. And, well, sometimes organizing apparel isn't No. 1 on my to-do list if you can imagine that. So, prior to even setting foot into the closet, I determined to get rid of any clothing I hadn't worn in the last 6 months (besides winter clothing since I obviously hadn't worn that within that time frame). It was hard, but I stuck to my goal and literally got rid of three full boxes of clothes between me, Richard, and Elliott. I had no idea we had that much clothing and most of it we hadn't worn in well over a year! I also downsized on shoes, purses, and bags. There were plenty in that category that we never used as well.
- Got rid of the "we-might-use-this-one-day" stuff. This included, but was not limited to a dart board that we had won at a "Chinese Christmas", keepsake boxes, photo frames, unused wedding albums, jewelry, some furniture, vases, random decorative items, etc.
Anyway, after clearing through every room in the house and putting every must-go item into our dining room, we had to decide how to best use this "junk" for good. And what better way to get rid of junk in a productive way than to have a yard sale??
We did just that and decided that no matter how much we made, it would all go straight to some missionary friends of ours who have some upcoming needs. We were so happy when the yard sale was over and we had made a decent amount and could surprise our friends with this love offering.
Now, everybody knows that you don't sell everything at a yard sale (much to your dismay, no doubt). So in our hunt for a good charity to give our leftover items to (besides the catch-all Goodwill), we heard about one nearby that gives free items to families who have lost their homes in natural disasters as a way to help them get back on their feet. We loved that idea so Richard's mom took all of the excess to this organization and they were happy to take it off of our hands (apparently in this economy, people don't give like they used to and a lot of charities are suffering).
So, maybe this isn't really a "radical" change in our lives...more like a "practical" one. But it was good to know that the junk that had been weighing down our home could be used to lay up eternal treasures instead by giving to those in need who are doing the work of the Lord.
And we're still getting rid of things and trying to pay better attention to the needs of those around us. We've found if our hearts are tender and our eyes are open, it's a lot easier to see that we are surrounded by those in need... not of our "stuff" per se, but of the Savior who died for them. And sometimes that Savior's love is expressed by our tangible giving.
Stayed tuned because I get the feeling that soon God's going to call us to do something really radical for Him!