Last week I had a little meltdown when I went up into the play loft and discovered that my much beloved American Girl dolls (and their various accouterments) that had been in my possession for almost 30 years were - to put it mildly - trashed. There might have been weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth...or at least a few tears and a lot of disappointment that the girls had taken such poor care of my treasured childhood toys. I did my best to keep my temper in check, but my disappointment with them was evident, and internally, I was seething.
After the kids were in bed, I found myself in the bathroom, sobbing. I was so angry - with them, for ignoring my instructions to take care of the dolls, and at myself, for caring so much about stuff, and not enough about the tiny humans who live with me 24/7. But God has a way of taking situations with the kids and turning them around to teach me valuable lessons, and this time was no different.
As I wiped away the tears and continued to dissect my reaction (I'm an INTJ, it's what we do), I realized that God was giving me an opportunity to model any number of things to the girls. I could either teach them that stuff was more important than people, or I could show them - by example - that even when the stuff you prize is ruined, the people responsible are still the only eternal part of the equation. Stewardship and care taking are good lessons to learn, but so is the value of the human behind the mistake. Stuff is just stuff - we can't take it with us. It's good to keep that in perspective.
As I continue in my quest to de-clutter, dealing with the kids has helped me ask myself some new questions. What am I saving it for? Why am I holding onto it? Who could use it and enjoy it more than I do? Is there a reason I'm storing it - and if so, is it a good reason? I may never live a minimalist lifestyle (and I'm not saying that I want to), but I would like to find a way to simplify the stuff we live with, and maintain the perspective that none of it lasts forever.
If you're interested in living simply, you may enjoy this post by Joshua Becker (the guy behind the becoming minimalist blog). Three times a year he offers a 12-week course to help families and individuals declutter their homes. The fall session of the Uncluttered course will begin in September. If you're interested in learning more, you can sign up through this (affiliate - thanks!) link to be notified when registration opens.