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looking backI have a lot of stuff.

It’s amazing how we accumulate things over the course of years.  When I moved to Florida 19 years ago this month, everything fit into the trunk, backseat and storage container on top of my 1984 Chevy Celebrity.

Nearly two decades later, everything fits into a few rooms.

I have mountains of books – mostly theological from my seminary years and the past few years of ministry.  And then there are all of the papers and bills from the past 19 years.  And many, many photo albums, DVDs, VHS tapes (that’s right, VHS), mugs with names of banks printed across the front (probably from my years organizing chamber of commerce events), pens, pencils, Christmas decorations and glasses from tourist attractions.

When will I need a power bill from 1997 or paperwork from a job in 2001?  When will I need the size six jeans as my hips will never shrink below an eight or ten?  When will I need an old recording of a Friends episode on VHS?  I own all of the seasons on DVD now and now can catch the episode on Netflix.

Most of these things do not make me happy.  In fact I feel like Lot’s wife: a pillar of salt, unable to move forward, and frozen in a time-warp.  Let’s face it: Sodom wasn’t exactly a happy place for visitors, and neither was the early 2000’s for me… Which makes me wonder: why do we hold onto things and times that remind us of painful places?

I use these items as a god to anchor me to an altered view of the past instead of allowing God to pull me forward towards a realistic view of the future.

Looking back isn’t a bad thing.  Holding on to a few mementos is a beautiful idea.  Photo albums and special gifts will remind me of special days and people of the past.  But rooms of “I may need this one day” boxes are boxing me in to a life that can’t be lived freely with God’s Spirit.

This year, I hope to go through many of those “I may need this one day” containers and begin to release my outdated treasures to the universe.  I may take some photos of old things that once meant something to me and send the item itself to the trash or to someone who needs it.  I may take a few moments with something that reminded me of a special memory but realize that it holds minimal significance to today.

Through shedding material things from the past, I hope to lighten my load to seize today with open hands… and rooms.

 

This blog was written in conjunction with a SynchroBlog on the topic “Looking Back, Looking Forward.”  Bloggers looking back and looking forward this month:

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