Letting Go and Holding On
When we made the decision to sell our home our middle daughter, Laura, was living with us. She had come home from Bangladesh where she’d worked with a mission group for a year. She was excited when she realized we would have to pare down our belongings. Every day she would ask, “What room can I de-clutter now, Mom?” She’d grin at me. I didn’t grin back. I would remind her we had six months before we had to move. She’d laugh and remind me that we were moving from a five bedroom into a two-bedroom house. It was like a cold cup of water – thrown in my face! But it was reality.
My husband had convinced me to follow the advice of the realtors and renovate our home before putting it on the market. We tore down and built up, we ripped out and replaced. We even bought new furniture. The process was not easy for me. I resented and resisted all these changes. I confess I am a packrat and I tend to hold onto things a little too tightly. I had a hard time letting go. I felt safe and comfortable in the midst of my clutter, my own little nest, surrounded by all my things. And Laura, dear minimalist that she is, set about enthusiastically deciding what had to go.
The problem was, she was a little too enthusiastic and my husband was cheering her on! For the next few months there was a litany that sounded in our house. “Laura, what did you do with… Laura, you didn’t throw that away, did you?” Then came the day I couldn’t find my favourite potato peeler. I didn’t care that it was cracked, it was my favourite! Laura had thrown it away. And I was upset. In fact I was downright angry. The potato peeler was the proverbial last straw. Nothing in my house was the same anymore. It didn’t feel like my home, my nest. It had been disrupted and I was disturbed.
I realized that day that I’d forgotten something. My reaction was disproportionate to what was happening. I told myself that it was only stuff, that I shouldn’t be so attached, that it was good to let go. But when you let go of something you have to find something else to hold onto. I knew what that something else should be. Or rather, that Someone. I knew I had allowed my identity to be wrapped up in a house and a lot of ‘stuff’ instead of in Jesus Christ. I remembered the passage in Matthew, one my husband would half-jokingly point me to – “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth …” (Matt.6:19).
I realized then I needed to not only reorganize my home, but my heart as well. I pray we can all let go of those things that don’t matter and hold onto the One who does.