Packrat generation: Clean out the clutter and move on

Moving is a mixed bag of excitement, anticipation, aggravation and emotional turmoil. If you don’t plan it out well, it can become a frantic headache of exhaustion that becomes frustration and exasperation. On the other hand, it can be the most rewarding experience of a lifetime.

I’ve moved a few times in recent years. (Here’s hoping that’s done for a while!). No. Fun. At. All. Yet, moving can still be exciting and it represents moving forward to another stone and another mile marker.

But during those moves, I’ve discarded dozens and dozens of items, some of which had been gathered over a lifetime. Some of it thrown away, some of it given away, still more of it just left behind. If you’ve ever moved, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Things that once seemed important lose their significance. Pictures, furniture, glassware, televisions, sports equipment, even clothes, shoes and things that once seemed important. When I moved to Colorado from Baton Rouge, we ran out of truck before we ran out of stuff to put in the truck.

As a result, I left a washer/dryer, kitchen table with chairs, some end tables, a desk, a couple of televisions and apparently some knives, clothes and other things.

But even after discarding, throwing away, giving away, leaving behind, dumping, disposing and hauling to the side of the road, somehow some things made it to Colorado that I’ll never use again or that are packed up in boxes in the garage. In other words, I moved some things 1,000 miles from Baton Rouge to Colorado Springs and some of it ended up in a dumpster or hauled off in the back of my truck.

I still can’t find my good set of kitchen knives. There are a few tools missing. Even some books. And I know I had more videos when I was in Baton Rouge. But, the Chick fil A cow collection made it here. As did every single sock and every holy sock. Not to mention some broken items that deserved to be on the trash pile years ago.

But doesn’t that speak to our pack rat generation? We keep everything. All of us hang on to things from our past.  Maybe a picture from high school, perhaps a special gift or trinket we got for a birthday or on a trip or a tool or door knob or chain or rock or trophy. We just can’t seem to pry our fingers away from what we consider an inseparable prize. Surely it will come in handy someday, right? Certainly we’ll need it next year, or at that reunion or when we replace the roof again or next Christmas or whenever, know when…

Or how ’bout those blouses or shirts or jackets or pants that you just know you’re going to get into when you lose that weight? Or when they come back in style?

Some people have a six-month rule: If I haven’t worn it or used it in six months, out it goes. But most of us are pack rats. And here’s the proof.  How many of you have a storage unit around the corner or down the street? Next time you’re out and about, just take a look at how often you see those self-storage units along the road. Or maybe yours is a stuffed attic or basement.

But there’s a message in all that. A biblical story and spiritual narrative. All of us hold onto things in life, also known as baggage. We carry it from relationship to relationship, job to job, church to church, school to school, where ever we go.

Those disagreements, burdens, hurts, pains, misunderstandings, bad experiences are all boxed up and stored away in various closets and basements in our hearts. Sure, over time, we clean it out a little, but we hang onto some things that we know we may “use” later. Just can’t quite let it go, kick it to the curb or move on from it. That little something someone said or did. That experience that embarrassed you 20 years ago. Or even that something you thought someone said or did.

But the Bible gives us explicit instructions about those things that weigh us down. That clutter we just can’t completely clean out.

“…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us…” ~~Hebrews 12:1b

And in Isaiah 43, there it is again.

“Forget the former things. Do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!” ~~Isaiah 43:18-19.

And perhaps one of the greatest biblical admonitions to move on:

“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” ~~Philippians 3:13-14.
Are you moving forward? Or are you stuck in the present or even the past? What can you get rid of that you’ve told friends they’d have to pry out of your cold, dead hands one day?
Have you cleaned out and moved on several times already? Are there possibly a few bags or boxes in the far recesses of your heart? Start going through them today, one item at a time. Unpack them, grieve if you need to, walk it to the edge of the street, set it down, then turn around and don’t look back.
Remember, life is a journey, so it won’t happen all at once. But if you’ll be faithful to start the unclutter process, God will be faithful to watch your back and carry you forward.
Just like moving, moving on and leaving emotions and fears and hurts and pains behind is a mixed bag. But, soon, those things that once seemed important will soon be insignificant, and you will find that God will soon “make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.”
It’s time to take another step toward another mile marker.

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