Downsizing Life

DownsizingSmallDownsizing has been part of my life the last couple of years. When we retired we moved from a mid-sized Michigan house to a smaller house in Florida. Most of everything we took with us had to fit into a shipping container 8X8X16 feet in size that was transported on a flatbed truck to Florida. We discarded or gave away stuff from every room, every closet, the garage, and storage shed. I gave away most of the books in my church office and the chickens in my chicken coop! Half of the year we live near our daughter and her family in Mexico. We could only take with us what would fit into four suitcases.

During this time my mother moved in with my sister and her husband, downsizing from an apartment to what could fit into her new bedroom. My wife’s folks downsized from a house to a two bedroom apartment.

Yes, downsizing, getting rid of stuff, has been our lifestyle of late. What took years to accumulate took some significant time and effort to get rid of. It has been a reminder that most of what we have around us is just “stuff” that we can live without, or at least live with less of it than we thought we could.

Those interviewed after a disaster where they’ve lost everything often express thanks that they and their family members are still alive and that most of what was lost can be replaced. When searching through the rubble of their former home they’re usually in search of a very few special, irreplaceable items such as photos, an heirloom, or a ring.

This is all a reminder that we shouldn’t define our lives by the possessions we have, nor find our greatest pleasure in possessing them. The danger is that our possessions can possess us (possessions make a great servant but a poor master). What we’re allowed to own, or even just use, in this life are gifts from God. We’re to be thankful for it all, use it wisely, and hold on to it loosely.

When we have a relationship with God we come to realize that this relationship is eternal and that a hundred years from now we’ll be with God but without all of this stuff. This reality helps put everything in a better perspective!

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

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