Friday, May 2, 2008

Where Did All This Stuff Come From?

Title: "Overabundance"

"Where did all this stuff some from?" -This is a question I often ask myself.

Another is, "Why are we keeping these things?"

We have *so* much more than we need, and this bothers me. We are not big consumers. I would even call our family anti-consumeristic. But, we still have lots of *stuff*, truly unecessary stuff.

I de-clutter *a lot*. Always a big bag waiting in the laundry room to be donated. And still too much.

I find that tidying stuff, keeps me from actually cleaning. It seems that, by the time I am done tidying in order to then clean, my time is all eaten up. I want time for tidy and clean.

I am by nature, orderly. I've discovered, a person can be orderly with much and orderly with little. It seems to me it would be less time consuming to be orderly with little. This would free up time. A precious commodity for all of us. Precious time with Jesus, my children, my husband, my friends & family.

My perfect home would have blank spaces ~ breathing room. Cupboards that are tidy but not full, drawers that are neatly arranged but not full, a few blank walls, everything in its place.
Room to breath, room to imagine, room to grow.

I came across this excerpt from an essay entitled Stuff, by Paul Graham.

"I have too much stuff. Most people in America do. In fact, the poorer people are, the more stuff they seem to have. Hardly anyone is so poor that they can’t afford a front yard full of old cars.
It wasn’t always this way. Stuff used to be rare and valuable. You can still see evidence of that if you look for it. For example, in my house in Cambridge, which was built in 1876, the bedrooms don’t have closets. In those days people’s stuff fit in a chest of drawers. Even as recently as a few decades ago there was a lot less stuff. When I look back at photos from the 1970s, I’m surprised how empty houses look. As a kid I had what I thought was a huge fleet of toy cars, but they’d be dwarfed by the number of toys my nephews have. All together my Matchboxes and Corgis took up about a third of the surface of my bed. In my nephews’ rooms the bed is the only clear space. Stuff has gotten a lot cheaper, but our attitudes toward it haven’t changed correspondingly. We overvalue stuff."

If you go to Paul Graham's whole essay, it is such a good read. So much of it rings true of me, the eternal treasure hunter and bargain shopper.

Have we become numb to our over-abundant lifestyles. Has this way of life crept in and taken over. I say time and time again, "I do not remember having this much stuff growing up." Talking, of course, about the mounds of children's toys at my house. (Even after down-sizing my kids have way more than we ever had, I think my kids still have too much).

"Things" are too easily accessible. If we want more, we can have it, and cheaply I might add. It is very easy to attain too much in today's times. It is hard to resist the temptation to have things just because we can.

It takes courage to let go of things. It also takes faith. Faith in our Lord God, that he will provide for our needs.

It's hard to rationalize getting rid of something that you may need some day. Is keeping it being a good steward or is keeping it not trusting God? This is a question I grapple with often. I am still grappling, as I still have a cupboards full of stuff I am keeping just in case.

I am not a wasteful person, this adds to my indecision. If we have spent money unwisely on something, and really don't use it, do we keep it? Should we give this unused item away or sell it, and learn a lesson in unwise spending?

I am thinking that all of these unanswered questions of mine are the reason we have too much stuff. We haven't learned the answers to our questions yet.

I am pretty sure I know where it all comes from , we bring it in. It is not reproducing under the beds, although this is a pretty good theory :~)

And now after this lengthy internal dialogue, I am pretty sure that I know why we keep it. We are torn. We are sentimental. We are undecided. We don't know where to begin.

I think the answer for me begin with not bringing in anymore stuff in that we do not *need*. I have a healthy grasp on what a real need is, so I won't be trying to convince myself that I *need* one more vintage mixing bowl :~)

My plan is that when we have a handle on this, I can then begin to weed through our stuff and decide what we really use.

Ahhhhhh, I feel so much better. A plan.

For me, to be freed from excessive possessions means, a clearer more open path to relationship with our Lord, more time for my family and friends, and an uncluttered mind, body, and soul.

When I have fewer *things* to care for, I have more time for the most important calling of my life, to be a servant of the King, a wife and mama to my family, and to be a light to my friends.

Thank you for bearing with me as I muddle through the *clutter* in my head. I appreciate you all, and you are a blessing to me.

Have a beautiful Friday. In God's Love, Tami


  1. It does really feel good to be free of stuff. I've been decluttering for a couple years now, and am still amazed at how frequently I takes loads of stuff to our local thrift store. Life is much simpler with less.

  2. Yes.
    I'm finding that, too. There is such FREEDOM in having less stuff! Less is easier to maintain, it takes up less of my time, energy, attention, which frees me to focus on the things that truly need my time, energy and attention.
    Mark and I have had a lot of those types of conversations over the past month (of my decluttering).. why do we have all of this? Why are we holding onto this?
    And the toys. Oh, my. I KNOW. Mark talks about how he used to have a handful of Hot Wheels and some GI Joe guys that ALL HIS BROTHERS SHARED, all 5 of them, together. And some legos. And that was pretty much it. Nothing that was even his, exclusively. We should be so much more there than we are.

    We're making our way in the direction of LESS, of simpler, of freedom from STUFF.


  3. Tami,

    Thank you so much for this post. It has really spoken to me. Decluttering is something I am in the middle of right now. For a long time now, I've been trying to declutter, but I never really see any result. However, this week I have begun a major shift of furniture and "stuff" around the house to get the maximum benefit from each piece of furniture while questioning each item I pick up, whether I need it or find it useful. For the majority, I don't need it and it isn't even useful. That's why over half of my minivan is packed and ready to go for an early Monday morning trip to the thrift store.

    I just can't stand the clutter, the stuff, the lack of space and time, and the chaos anymore. It's amazing how life can really pass us by while we're in the midst of clutter and chaos. It invades our personal happiness, the joy of our children, and even our marriages when it becomes overwhelming. I am determined to find more time for all the important things in life. I'm going to take all of my clutter out for donation and count it as a lesson learned.

    I now truly believe that simplicity is best!

  4. Thank you for another beautiful, thoughtful post.

    Right now, the garage is my challenge.

    When we moved here a year and a half ago, I told my husband to just bring the essentials inside, and leave the rest of the boxes in the garage. (Though we decluttered before the move, seems like we're never done!) The plan is to bring things in as we need them, and sort the rest in the spring and get rid of most stuff. Two springs later, I'm still waiting (for my very busy husband's help) to be able to sort things up. Honestly, it keeps me humble though!

    Plus, I could also look at not getting rid of stuff (through donating) on a timely manner as delaying someone else's blessing, and meeting someone else's needs.

  5. I can so relate to this post!

    My mother says she can't understand how I am constantly decluttering - how could I have anything left? LOL