Eleven years ago I called our mission agency to ask for advice on how to select items for a wedding registry when I knew we’d be leaving the country. I’m not sure why I thought my application mentor was the best person to ask, but I figured she had experience counseling people in the art of letting go of their worldly possessions. I’m glad I called her, she gave me some great advice: buy items that will be special to you, that will hold memories, and just buy cheaper items for the rest.
We received nice dishes (and by nice, I mean Bed, Bath & Beyond nice…not the dollar store or Goodwill ). We registered for towels, brand new white towels, which my parents had waiting for us in Bed, Bath & Beyond boxes when we got home from our honeymoon.
Over the years the towels have become off white, they have tears, and the dishes have chips. Yes, the dishes were special because they held so many meals. Meals shared as newlyweds, meals shared with laughs (like the time I accidentally ground up a wooden spoon in our blender and served the wood chips in chick pea burgers……but THAT’s another story). The plates don’t matter. They are just white plates. They are just things. I’m reminded that things don’t hold memories. My mind does. I can take those memories with me across the ocean. This is something I’m still learning.
A decade has passed since our wedding, and I’ve known for that length of time that we’re leaving our things. This fact has drastically changed the way I purchase things. I make things last, I buy cheap things. Why spend so much money when you’ll be walking away from it all? (I highly recommend this mindset for anyone!).
As we have begun sorting our possessions, I am reminded to hold earthly things with a loose hand. Neither you nor I have any guarantee that we’ll have our stuff tomorrow.
Today was my nieces 6th birthday party. I went downstairs to get wrapping paper, and when my eyes met the stash of wrapping paper my heart sank. I was immediately sad over the thought of leaving the wrapping paper behind. Then it hit me, I wasn’t upset over the silly paper. I was upset over the fact that paper represents so many birthday parties and holidays giving gifts to family and friends. I reminded myself that I will take those memories with me, even if I leave the stash of cheap wrapping paper behind. Those thoughts help me get through the packing, sorting and giving away process. And let me tell you, it’s a process.
Hold everything earthly with a loose hand; but grasp eternal things with a death-like grip. – Charles Spurgeon
Knowing that God is constant, that He is with me wherever I go is comforting to me. I can only imagine the comfort He will bring me once I’m halfway around the world from everyone and everything I know. I pray that in those discouraging times, that my “death-like grip” will be on God and not my things.