Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Tractors, Treasures, and Tears

Over this past month, we’ve been working on thinning out our possessions. I was feeling the need for some breathing room in our small house. After seventeen years here, we needed to either move to a bigger house, or we needed to get rid of a bunch of stuff.  While filling boxes with unneeded things, I’ve been reading books on minimalism. The titles are all similar: The Joy of Less, The More of Less, Good-bye Things.  The messages are the same: get rid of your extra stuff so you can focus on the meaningful parts of your life.

I am completely on board with the vision and purpose of thinning belongings to focus our homes and lives on the things that really matter and mean the most to us. And while I’m working hard to lighten the load in our home and say good-bye to the unneeded stuff around us, letting go doesn’t come without a struggle.

A few weeks ago we were cleaning out the garage and pulled out the big green tractor that Caleb spent years driving around the yard. The kids have all outgrown it and it takes up costly real-estate in the garage. Reluctantly, I dropped it off at The Salvation Army.  The next day while driving home from the grocery store, I was unexpectedly feeling weighted down with sadness and began crying. I knew that I was grieving the loss of that green tractor.

I loved that tractor. I loved how Caleb spent hours backing it up into small parking spaces he created in the back yard. I loved how the boys rode it up and down the sidewalk with our neighbors: parading, laughing, living fully alive. I loved how nieces and nephews sat on it while we had backyard family picnics.

I knew I was crying about the tractor, but at the same time I knew it wasn’t really about the tractor. It was about the season of life that has faded from our home. My boys are not little kids anymore. Our neighbors have moved. Our family has moved. Our backyard has changed. Our activities have changed. We need room in the garage for our new kayaks. There are good things to look forward to. But while we look ahead, there is a grief in saying goodbye to the past.

It’s easier to just stack new stuff on top of old stuff. It’s easier to shove sweaters further back in the closet. It’s easier to stack boxes higher in the basement.  In contrast, it takes emotional and mental effort to make decisions about letting go, to ask myself what I most value, to be honest about what seasons of life have come to a close. Tightly clenched fingers will eventually get pried painfully off of grasps on treasures, whether it's an old green tractor, or a season of life.   

This month of letting go has been good and hard. A joy and a pain. Exciting and daunting.
Letting go is hard, but it feels freeing, and focused, and full of what's important. 
I'm trying to hold my hands open. We'll see what they find. 

“Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value 
and the removal of anything that distracts us from them.” 
Joshua Becker

“Love people. Use things. The opposite never works.” 
The Minimalists 

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