The problem with older homes is a lack of space. When we were first looking into rental homes, space was the one recurring issue: closets that were too small; lack of pantry; tiny cabinets and little counterspace in the kitchen. We moved into the place that was the lesser of these evils, but the problem remains.
As I stared down a cabinet of drinking-ware, holding two brand new coffee mugs, I knew I needed a change. The bottom shelf of the cabinet contained an assortment of mugs – mugs of all sizes, and mugs I was certain I had never used in my life. Yet, here they were, taking up space.
Everything came out of the cabinet. All the daily mugs that we use, the matching couples’ mugs, the ones I’d gotten as presents from students, the ones I didn’t even recognize. No one needs so many vehicles for coffee. Methodically, I sorted through the ones we used regularly, then chose a few different sizes. The rest were put in a pile for give away: 17 mugs. And away they went.
In that moment, I realized that maybe the problem wasn’t a lack of space. Maybe the problem was me, as a product of my generation. We accumulate so many things and hoard them away because we never know when we might need them.
My husband’s cousin visited us this summer and pointed out that so many new construction projects are storage units. We can’t fit all of our stuff in our homes, so we move it into storage.
Since that time, all I’ve noticed going up around town are storage units (and car washes).
Most people can relate to this narrative. How often do we wish for more space only to realize that perhaps all we need is a spring – or fall or winter – cleaning? De-clutter, give away, begin anew.
It’s an easier process with things. We clearly see the buildup, we recognize the growing frustration and finally we reach a breaking point – it must go. It’s not quite as easy to recognize the same need for de-cluttering within ourselves.
Lately, it seems I’ve borne – and continue to bear – a lot of crosses. In talking with a priest, he continually reminds me of the heavy weight of Jesus’ own cross to Nazareth – so heavy that he fell not once, but twice.
Struggle is a necessary part of life; our crosses make us stronger and bring us closer to Jesus.
He also reminded me of the parable of the man who sowed good wheat, while later, others came into the field to sow weeds. The sower decides to let the wheat and the weeds grow together, until harvest when they are separated and the weeds are burned.
Within ourselves we can grow both wheat and weeds. The way that we live our lives, the choices that we make, the people with whom we choose to spend our time. All of these things can be both wheat and weeds, growing together within us. But there comes a point – like my example of the mugs – when we must separate and burn.
We must decide what to keep, and what needs to be left behind. Often, our crosses help us make that decision through prayer and reflection: what aspects of our lives are holding us back from beginning anew our relationship with God?
Dr. Heather Bozant Witcher can be reached at email@example.com.