We are in the process of moving.
Moving, I’ve realized, brings you face to face with your stuff in ways almost nothing else does.
It was slightly horrifying to realize that I write a simple-living themed blog, and yet saw that much stuff carted up from my basement. This was stuff I had been avoiding dealing with for years.
Can I just admit that the contents of our house did not fit on the biggest moving truck U-Haul had to offer? Not even close. It took a moving truck, one and half horse-trailer loads, two flat-trailer loads, plus multiple car-loads to relocate us and all our stuff.
Now, after more than two months of living at my parents’ place while our new house is being renovated, I can honestly, say I haven’t missed it.
Practically our whole life is in boxes, and it’s more of a relief than a burden to have it that way. Obviously, we’ve benefited from my parents stuff while living here, and obviously, there are things we’ll be very grateful for when we move in to our new house. Our couch. Our dishes. Our towels. Our beds and quilts and pots and pans. Yes, please!
But there are also a lot of things we won’t need –things like the excessive amount of toys, puzzles, books and games my children possess, which they are incapable of keeping tidy in that quantity, understandably. …Or those table clothes I never use, the extra bathroom rugs (it’s true, we have extras), those three-ring binders we’re saving for a rainy day, the hiking backpack that’s been untouched for years, and many other of things we’ve accumulated across our lifetimes.
So, yes, we will be purging again for the umpteenth time when we unpack it all. I’m happy about that.
But it has got me thinking, why is an overabundance of stuff in our homes problematic, really? Excessive amounts of stuff naturally bother me, but… why? Here’s what I think about it.
Why you (and I) probably have too much stuff
1. Too much stuff can be burdensome
In my experience, the more you have,
- The more you must maintain
- The more you must clean around
- The more you must store, organize and find a spot for
- The more visual clutter you must overcome to fully relax
2. Too much stuff can hinder our spiritual life
Does that seem like a stretch? I’ve found this to be true in my own life.
When I get enthralled with my possessions and the accumulation of more, it shifts my perspective to earthly things. When I have too much stuff, I worry myself more with what I want next, what is lacking and what could be improved. I find myself trying to “have it all,” which leads me to put a lot of energy into the wrong things.
Jesus says, “Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:15)
When we wrongfully think it does, we will stuff our lives full of… stuff. We will acquire more, which will lead us to need more accessories, more organization, and eventually even bigger homes in which to store it all. The more consumed we are with our things, the less consumed we are able to be with Christ.
3. Too much stuff can represent money and resources wasted
More than once in the Bible, we see Jesus challenging people to sell their possessions and give the money to the poor so that they would have treasures in heaven, then come follow Him. (Luke 12:33-34, Luke 18:18-29)
When we are over-indulging ourselves with our resources (this threshold is not a specific number, rather, it is between you and God), we are missing an opportunity to give, and thus we waste the opportunity to store up eternal rewards. This heavenly treasure comes when we make a clear-eyed, private and cheerful sacrifice for the sake of the Kingdom.
If we are surrounded by mountains of worldly treasures (which are not inherently bad), we should at least consider whether we’re wasting money and resources as a result of an errant perspective.
4. Too much stuff can be difficult to keep tidy
On a practical note, just as my children can’t seem to keep an over-abundance of toys tidy, neither can I keep an over-stuffed house that way. My little ones have a way of rearranging things, and the thought of keeping up with them is overwhelming.
I’ve found great freedom in having less. It is so much easier to keep neat. If you struggle to keep a tidy home, chances are you have too much stuff.
Note: I am passionate about helping women who struggle in this area get a handle on their homes through teaching a few simple daily habits, projects (including decluttering), and systems. That’s why I created the Help for the Hopeless Homemaker Online Course. Find it here.