A high school friend picked a quote one year and wrote it all our yearbooks. It was something along the lines of, “Some people spend time to save money, some people spend money to save time, which one are you?” It seemed obvious at the time. I didn’t appreciate this quote very much then, but I do now. You should know that such an insightful young woman, who appreciated time and money at a young age, now travels the world and is a beautiful trapeze artist. I really do know someone who grew up and joined the circus, awesome.
Over the years, I’ve had various “opportunities” to help people with another priority in their lives. One priority that wastes their time and money, and the time and money of those they love. Their “stuff”.
I knew a woman whose house was filled from floor to ceiling with her stuff, especially lots of newspapers. And her guesthouse was filled with the clothes of her deceased relatives. I spent at least two days cleaning her guesthouse and didn’t make much headway. It is my understanding that these situations are caused by mental illness or emotional trauma. I don’t have a short solution for that.
However, there are many of us who are quite cognizant of our stuff. I have a slightly morbid mind. I consider the possibility that my husband and I die in a horrific car accident on a California freeway, and I think of which loved one will have to walk into my house and clear it out. Some weeks, I look around and think, “If I died this week, my mother would be very mad at me.” It finally motivated me to shred everything from 1999 – 2009, except the tax paperwork. Never shred the taxes. Even though I don’t trip over those bins very often, it still makes me feel better knowing they are now empty.
And quite frankly, maybe more of us should think that way. You may enjoy your stuff, or it may be a burden to you, but why would you want to pass that burden on to someone else? A blank wall and empty space encourage creativity. Free space in a room reduces stress. I don’t need an expert to tell me that, cleaning my house has shown me.
I knew a woman who died. Her large family loved her very much. However, when she died, she left a lot of stuff to sort through. There were lots of shopping bags. Each shopping bag would have brand new clothes she never gave to the grandchildren, cash, and family pictures. Purses, which looked brand new, would have cash in them. We had to go through everything.
Her family spent weeks of their time going through her stuff. Multiple trips to the thrift store occurred. However, their reward was a stack of precious family pictures that now had to be sorted. How is it fair to your family to ask them to deal with death paperwork, a funeral, a family gathering, complicated emotions, AND a more than normal amount of stuff to sort through? How much do you NOT love them?
There are some fun TV shows about valuable antiques found in attics or large properties with over-stuffed outbuildings. These are fun to watch. However, it’s funny that they haggle over one item while 500 other items sit in the room behind them. You know, if they sold everything for 25 cents or offered one bulk price for the entire lot, they’d probably save time and make the same amount of money.
Someone called my husband and dropped off two boxes of “computer equipment” in cardboard boxes on my front porch for another friend to pick up and “help someone” with. The men talked, but no one talked to me, the wife. So, a month later, these boxes that were now rained on multiple times were still sitting there. I transferred them to a decent box, and put it out on the front sidewalk as “free for the taking”.
I have a magical street where things just disappear if you put it out there. (Things also disappear from unlocked cars – but I digress.) However, you know it is worthless if it doesn’t get picked up on my street. Thankfully, that heavy printer and ancient keyboard finally disappeared – so I don’t have to go to a recycler this weekend. My children deserve my time and your stuff isn’t worthy of my time.
My time is precious and my children are aging by the minute. Please, love us enough to know we have PLENTY. Love us enough to throw your own trash away.
I understand it, though. It helps you heal and separate from the item if you know the person who is receiving it. While I was a missionary, I met a woman who believed it was bad karma to give people things that she didn’t want. As a result, she donated nothing to thrift stores. Things just went in the trash. She was generous with her time and her money, not her trash.
Have you ever met someone who spent more money on the storage unit than the value of the things inside the storage unit? Why? Furthermore, why have a garage sale so you can waste hours of a beautiful Saturday? Donate it or dump it. Be free. Then take a walk in the park. Drive to the beach. DON’T head to the store. DON’T drive by the garage sale. Just hit the gas pedal, and enjoy the fresh air. Spend the time looking deeply into your spouse’s eyes, or cuddling up on the couch with your kids. Or walking your dog that doesn’t really like to go for walks.
God said to Moses as documented in the Pearl of Great Price (Moses 1:39), “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” So, that’s how God spends His time. It’s funny that in the previous verse He says, “And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof, even so, shall another come; and there is no end to my works, neither to my words.” There is no end to His works (His deeds, His creations), and there is no end to His words (His advice, His counsel).
God doesn’t say, “There is no end to my stuff! My garage is HUGE!” He doesn’t say, “I spent the last 4 Saturdays moving my stuff from one storage unit to another.” Or, “I spent 8 hours to earn $200 at my garage sale, and spend $40 of it on lunch for my family because I didn’t have time to cook.” And somehow, we’re supposed to learn to be more like Him.
Molly A. Kerr
Molly is on a life long quest to figure herself out. Born to be and educated as an aerospace engineer she is also blessed to be a wife and a mom of two in the present, previously served as a full-time missionary, is consistently called to teach the youth in her ward, is eagerly though slowly doing home improvement as money and time allow, all while gradually learning how to be herself and find peace and balance somewhere in between. Despite her attempts to make “the right” decisions in her life, she has learned to deal with some unexpected challenges over the last two decades. Total tornadoes, really. What she has discovered is that her career has taught her a lot about the Gospel and being a better mother, and the Gospel, when applied to challenges at the office, has made her a better professional. She has also learned that it is okay to be herself, and God still loves (and forgives) her for it.