By Kristeen Bruun
Years of disorganization have left me with a mish-mash of stuff, all mixed together, so I’m currently working on organizing all of my possessions. I know my son would have one simple, straightforward response to this process, should it end up in his lap: hire a dumpster. So if I want to save the charming baby pics from oblivion because some day my grandchildren might want them, I had better sort them out myself.
In the course of getting better organized (again), I have realized at least one thing: every attempt at organization requires at least two pass-throughs. The first sweep separates out the easy choices: (1) It’s trash; (2) It’s Goodwill; or (3) I maybe want it. The second sweep requires more discernment.
Some of the choices are easy. Why did I ever keep the 2015 calendar that I never used? Trash.
Others are much more difficult. Will I ever want to sew again? Should I give away my fabric stash and my sewing machine? Three of the dresses hanging in my closet were made by me, and, in fact, I just wore one of them to my son’s wedding. It’s not inconceivable that the sewing bug might bite again someday. (After this reorganization is completed, of course.)
This sorting process is tedious and somewhat boring, but it also gives me a picture of who I am, or of who I have been throughout the years. That’s why it’s so difficult.
Journals. Art materials and art projects. Unfinished novels. Historical research – oh, keep that, of course. Surely in the midst of this maelstrom of material I can find the one additional paper topic that I need to complete my master’s degree. Or should I give up on that, too?
I have years of Sunday school teaching curricula and organizational reflections. I always keep this stuff, thinking that someday I will be called on to teach the same topic, but so far, it has not happened. I have not been able to recycle any of it usefully. Should I let it go now?
It feels as if the minute I come back from the walk to the dumpster, the phone will ring and our Director of Christian Education will say, “We are looking for someone to teach…” Of course, I can always reconstruct material; but wouldn’t it be nice to have a jumping off point?
I ask myself how I got to this Marie Kondo point in my life. Did not Jesus send them out two by two, telling them to take nothing for the journey? (Mark 6:8). Doesn’t this call for the dumpster approach? Am I not called to lighten the load??
Even so, a passage that wrings my heart every time I read it is in Paul’s second letter to Timothy. Paul, knowing that he is nearing the end, asks Timothy for a special favor:
When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.
2 Timothy 4:13 (NIV)
Paul had been on the road for most of his life. During his constant journeys, he hadn’t accumulated much: a cloak, some books, and most important of all, his parchments. But those few possessions held special meaning for him.
As do many of mine, for me.
Just today I sat looking across the room at the photos that line the top two shelves of my bookshelves. They form a litany of relationships. Every so often, I look at them one by one and thank God for each connection that has brought me closer to Jesus.
Things do change. Babies are now in middle school. My mother is now singing in the heavenly choir. Still, these were (and are) the loves of my life, along with the books and papers that represent time spent and achievements gained.
Even a seemingly insignificant object can be a tangible reminder of my relationship with a dear friend, or my relationship with my God.
So I decide to go on sorting.