Finding Courage to Release the “Stuff”

“You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Turn and set your journey…”

Deuteronomy 1:6,7

Something you might not know about me is that I spent a season of my life ‘flipping’ houses.

My favorite ones were the total disasters… the ones others turned their noses up on – the ones it was hard to see as anything but a wreck of bones.

It was those houses – those that spent years being unloved, and unappreciated, and mistreated – those were the ones that drew me in with their longing to be revived and brought back to life.

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It was sooo rewarding to see something transformed.

Most of the time, the ‘turn’ was easy. We usually took possession of houses with a few things left lying around; we expected to pull out carpet and cabinets and bathroom fixtures. No problems.

Then, on the very last house I flipped before my season ended, we were left with mountains of debris that needed removal.

Mountains.

Hundreds upon hundreds of pounds of stuff needing disposal.

Piles and piles and piles of things the prior owner had hoarded over 40 years was ours to deal with. The rooms were packed. The kitchen cabinets were overflowing with food and dishes and junk. The basement hadn’t been touched and still had trails between stacks of boxes. And, the yard we thought had rolling hills? It was mounds and mounds of clothing that had been bagged, tarped, and grown over by years and years of weeds.

At first we thought we should sift through it all. I mean, what if there were ‘treasures’ hidden somewhere, right? So, we started going box by box, pile by pile. Day after day after day.

Soon we were hostages. The stuff – the years of things hoarded and held on to and ‘cherished’ – was consuming our every thought and just managing the stuff was starting to consume our budget. Our mission was always to get in, clean out, fix up, and move on, yet we found this particular house pulling us farther and farther away from our mission and deeper and deeper into a pit.

To say we were overwhelmed by the stuff is an understatement. We were confused, scattered, distracted, heavy-hearted. We didn’t want the stuff, but we felt we should deal with the stuff.

(Deal with the stuff. I mean, that’s what we’re supposed to learn in life, right? To just deal with it?)

Thank God, however, that one day my man and I looked at each other in our filthy clothes and with filthy hands after we had gone through the umpteenth box of nothing but trash and we did it: we said ENOUGH.

It was a miraculous moment of clarity. We left that day covered in dust from our burden and said to our guys, ‘Not one more minute can be spent ‘sorting through’ the stuff. Tomorrow morning push it out the door, into the dumpster, and get it out of the house.”

Enough was enough.

We needed to cut the reigns. We needed to get out of the pit of complaining the stuff had brought into our lives. No second guessing. No talking about it. No discussions of what-if’s or what-could-bes. We simply opened our eyes and reminded ourselves of our goals… and then made the (hard) decision to rearrange circumstances accordingly.

I’m sharing this story because, while I’m not flipping houses these days, we are ‘flipping’ our life.

We are moving.

Moving homes… moving schools… moving communities… all at once.

Why? Because we’ve found ourselves in a life like that house I just described to you – we started with one goal only to find ourselves way off track by ‘stuff’. The ‘stuff’ of busy-ness. The ‘stuff’ of driving here, and driving there, and of schedules, and ‘must-dos’, and ‘important’ things that, when it gets right down to it, are important… but not so important that they should have the power to distract us from the heart of our goal.

And what is the heart of our goal?

Family. Love. Closeness. Joy. Appreciation. Character. Play. Childhood. Laughter. Abundance that comes with simplicity. SIMPLICITY.

These are the things we say are important… but because of the ‘stuff’ of how our life is currently structured, they’ve been compromised.

Our family has been stretched and scattered and separated and go-go-go because we’ve been telling ourselves for years: we just have to deal with it.

But enough is enough… and our hearts are telling us: rein it in.

Downsize.

Simplify.

Stop driving.

Stop striving.

Turn, take your journey, and let God work.

It leaves me a little breathless to think of what the next two months will bring as we pack up, move, get the kids into new schools, and start living differently. It’s taken us years to find the courage to release this ‘stuff’… but we are filled with HOPE as we take the next steps and pray for clarity, wisdom, and protection as we walk into unknown territory.

And, you know what else? In spite of the ‘crazy’ this may look like, we are fixing our eyes and ears on the One who says: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Do not fear.

I am with you.

I will strengthen you.

I will help you.

{deep breath. exhale.}

Thank you, Father… here we go.