My parents were typical of many older folks in that they didn’t properly plan out their senior years. After they retired, they remained in their large, four-bedroom house where they had raised six children. My Dad wanted to downsize, but my Mom was as stubborn as a mule and wouldn’t consider moving. When they reached their eighties, they began spending the winters with my sister down in Florida. As their health problems became more challenging, they finally reached a point where they weren’t able to make the return trip in the Spring from Florida back to New York. It was then left to sonny boy – yours truly – to clean out the old homestead and prepare it for sale.
From the basement to the attic, that house was CHOCK FULL of every big and small knick knack imaginable. My parents grew up during the Depression and didn’t believe in throwing anything out. Why didn’t my parents plan for this? What were they thinking? They had thirty years of retirement to prepare.
Why do any of us collect and save certain things? We do take great pleasure in the “stuff” we accumulate. Our self-worth is intrinsically wrapped up in the things we possess. I’m an avid reader and over the years I had filled several bookcases with the books I had read. I knew that I would never read or reference most of those books again, but I was compelled to hang onto them and even display them as trophies. Spurred on by my parents’ bad example, I’ve drastically thinned out my book collection over the last two years by selling most of them via Amazon’s third-party seller program (a future post).
This past week, I finally got around to sorting through my CDs and DVDs, many of which I hadn’t listened to or watched in ten or fifteen years. With each item, I asked myself if I would honestly ever listen to it or watch it ever again and more often than not the answer was no. But it was still a struggle to say good-bye to those old “friends.” When I took the boxes of CDs and DVDs to the used record store, they rejected half of them and gave me $40 for the rest. I didn’t even want to think about how much money I had spent in amassing that collection. I had watched most of the DVDs only once.
Since I was still in the mood to toss things, I also looked at my stack of plastic storage containers in the basement that my wife is always asking me to thin out. One was full of textbooks and workbooks from classes I had taken at Kodak in the 1980s. Back then, the company was beginning to encounter many challenges to its picture-taking monopoly, primarily from overseas, and those classes taught leaner, more efficient methods of production as a means to try to stay competitive. As you all know, the company was eventually overwhelmed by digital technology. So why was I hanging onto these obsolete textbooks and workbooks from thirty years ago? I was very proud of having taken those classes and becoming certified in lean manufacturing methods, which I was later able to use towards attaining a college degree. Those books that I hadn’t opened in thirty years had once meant a great deal to me, but there was absolutely no good reason for me to keep them any longer. Into the trash they went.
I’ll continue to chip away at my collections of “stuff” so that our sons won’t eventually have to. I can testify from experience that many/most of the things we treasure so highly will be unceremoniously tossed into a roll-off dumpster by our children without a second thought.
As Christians, our worth doesn’t come from things, but only from Jesus Christ. Sure, it’s fun to have collections of things we actually use and enjoy, but many times we hang onto “stuff” for no good reason.
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” – Colossians 3:1-3
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21