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  • Katie Smith

What should we keep?

As we took down Christmas decorations this year, I heard a lot of "NO NOT THAT!" Because much of them went into donation bags or trash bags. "We talked about this," I said. "We need to give A LOT away in order to move. We can't store everything, BUT God will give us new things when we need them."

Not surprisingly, one of my kids, who has had a unique life, didn't have much of an issue getting rid of anything. He frequently said, "That's okay mommy." It's sort of his life mantra. You can't jump. "That's okay mommy." You can't run. "Aw.... well, that's okay mommy." You have to eat that. You have to go to the doctor. You have to work hard in therapy. You have to use your other hand. You have to ____. "That's okay mommy."

Now this child has his own set of irrational behavior, but when it comes to stuff, he doesn't get attached. Losing things he loves, being told no, switching plans without notification, it rolls off his back easier than any other child I've known. He is the most adaptable member of our family. As such, his "disabilities" have provided him unique "abilities." He flips things around like Jesus tells us to do.

"Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it" (Luke 17:33)

It's scary to give away everything-- it takes away your sense of control and comfort. But, just like throwing out a stinky, dead Christmas tree, there's a freshness that aromatizes the air-- a clarity like that which occurs during a fast. We can hear God's voice more clearly through fasting and purging because the more "stuff" in our lives, the more difficult (not impossible but more difficult) it is to hear His direction for us.

"Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will direct your plans." (Proverbs 16:3)

As an interconnected and globally social culture, it's strenuous to separate from the natural flow of traffic. To step out and turn a different way requires forethought and effort unless you are naturally born with a disability/ability. To go against the stream of traffic, though, is equally as dangerous as falling into a familiar traffic pattern. Instead we must hesitate and find the correct direction based on faith rather than going the way we've always gone, or the way everyone else is going (comfort and control).

Jesus said, “If you want to be complete [without feeling you lack], go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow Me" (Matthew 19:21).

When I see my kids who hold tightly to every little thing, they have more stress and anxiety than when they have zero attachments. The absence of wanting more (contentment) occurs when we give up our comfort and control. I am more comfortable when I plan, organize, and overly prepare. Others feel better doing whatever comes easily, nothing outside their comfort zone. Still others love grand gestures only to slack off their proverbial wagon mid-year.

Whichever category you find yourself, I realized we can all swing pendulums in any direction following the traffic flow that feels best to us. Instead we should go against the natural control and comfort. We must flip our understanding of these terms by giving them up completely. Then we find a new traffic flow--one of faithful obedience. Certainty and softness always trump rough instability, but they never make for lasting peace.

Because, "Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith Abraham made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God." (Hebrews 11:1-2, 9-10)

Here's to a new year with new treasures of faith that we don't yet see. Ones we can't store up in a climate-controlled storage units. Ones that will satisfy long after they've been tested and tried. Ones we will never have to put in donation or trash bags because no matter what... "It's okay mommy."

~Giving up Carefully and Carelessly

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