We lived out of suitcases for the entire month of February and now that we are home again, I keep finding myself overwhelmed, even anxious, by all the stuff we have in our house.
I think I'm a productive person. I keep myself and the kids on a
strict schedule that allows us to get all the beds made, do the laundry,
take care of the pets, keep the whole house clean, neat and organized almost
all of the time while we also home school and I nurse and nurture the
baby. I cook three healthy meals a day from scratch and empty the sink
and re-clean the counters, table and floor after each of those meals. I
read to my kids, talk to them, play with
them, supervise their play and work. And, in my free time, I exercise
and read through several books at once. So I have no reason to be ashamed about how I use my time.
when I walk by shelves of so many books, I see the ones I haven't read to the kids yet and I feel guilty. When I walk by all our board
games, I see the ones we all haven't played in a while and that
makes me think, "I'm not doing enough." And then I feel condemned.
But it's just not true, I realize. It's all this stuff that makes me
feel like I'm not doing enough. It's maintaining all of it that
swallows more and more of my time.
So I've started purging. Twice I have filled our van with books and toys and furniture to donate. But, as much as I have given away, I still feel like I am spending too much of my time putting things back where they go or supervising my kids as they put things back where they go. We have too much stuff for one family to handle and I don't want our whole lives to be about handling our stuff.
Interestingly, while I was on vacation, making due with what fit in a few bags, my friend told me a story about an Amish
woman who asked her husband to build a purple martin birdhouse for their backyard. He built it and put it on a pole so she could see it outside their kitchen window. It
was beautiful and it brought her a lot of joy, at first. But, as time
went by, the Amish woman fell back into her busy routine of work around
the house and the farm and she found herself too busy to fed the birds in
the birdhouse as often as she wanted to and that brought her tremendous guilt. Every time she saw the birdhouse, she was reminded about what she didn't have time for. The woman realized she shouldn't have asked for a birdhouse in the first place. She should have just been content without one.
That story keeps playing in my head, stirring inside of me. I have so many of those "birdhouses" in my life. From now on, I want to be content with what I can manage as one person. And in the future, I want to guard myself and my family from wanting more than we can handle. So I'm getting rid of what we don't have time for, all of it, no matter how much we wish we had time for it. We'll do as much as we ever did with what's left over. But, with less stuff around, I believe we'll have even more time for the things that remain.
"Be on your guard against all forms of greed, for a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." Luke 12:15