Don't we all have stuff? You know, a drawer, a closet, an attic, basement, garage...your heart, your soul...
Our stuff is one of the hallmarks of American life. We overspend, overconsume, and obsess, and we're left with too much stuff crowding our lives. Television programs help us "sort" and "store" and even show us how our stuff can be a psychological disorder when it becomes hoarding and some of us live in filth because we simply cannot let go.
It is said that our internal life can be manifested in how we live. Life coach maven Martha Beck says that our psyches choose and arrange our homes according to our life histories.
I believe this because I have lived this... there is a dumpster in front of my house right now. Dear friends have come in to help me sort it out... Am I holding onto something because it is important or is this one of the things needs to be passed on to someone else who can use or appreciate it. We've created a new verb, "Goodwill it," we say.
Recently at the Iowa Conference United Church of Christ annual meeting, J. Bennett Guess, likened this time in the life of the church as a time of going through the attics and closets of our church and denomination. What do we really need to move forward? Just like going through our own personal things, it is hard. We are attached in many ways both emotionally and spiritually to that which we hold on to at home and at church.
And yes, we will be changed for this effort. There's no doubt that change happens, whether you want it to, or not. Ben says that you simply cannot go through a period of change without changing yourself. A true fact. And that can be just a little more than daunting for some of us.
For me, it has gotten to the place where I have really evaluated everything and pared down. Household stuff, books, clothes, some bad habits...even found that my body is getting smaller.
Our congregation is in the midst of transition. The theory is that when people move to a new house, they go through their stuff so they don't spend money and effort moving what they don't need any longer. Same is true as a congregation evaluates where they have been and where they think they are headed. Lots of closets and attics to go through. Lots of dark corners to shine light into and see what's there. It is hard work and hard to let go of things that we have a strong emotional attachment to. There are good reasons, we might say, for why it is kept away in the dark. It's better just left there...
But it is necessary work. Just as it is good for us to have a good sort and clean at home, in our personal lives, and in our congregations. It's important to have a good look. There are certainly things that need to be brought out, dealt with, and let go. It could be the phrase, "that's the way we've always done it," or "we tried that and it didn't work."
We may also find treasures that are worth dusting off and using again. What's waiting for you?