I was recently going through the pictures on my computer and came across some that brought back some really good memories that hurt a little. You know the kind? You remember the pain of the experience, but the good that has come out of it since then has been totally worth it. Here’s the story:
When we lived in FL we had a 1400 sq ft. townhouse. I just thought we had a small space. 😉 Because of my love of all things order and organization, and because our kids shared bedrooms, we kept their “very special” personal things in bins under the beds. Each kid had their own bin, and the community toys were kept on shelves.
One day, I decided it was time to clean out the personal bins. I began with my oldest, who had done the drill before, and didn’t keep too many “very special” personal things. My second was next, also having been through the drill before, and we were done in a jiff. Then it was time for my third, Isaac.
I left Isaac in his room to go through his things and to make a pile of things he was ready to get rid of. After about 10 minutes I returned to find Isaac’s bin packed very neatly, but nary a thing in the “get rid of” pile. He had simply reorganized everything in his bin. After surveying the scene, I asked Isaac if he understood what he was supposed to have done.
“Yes.” He said.
“So, you don’t have anything you are ready to get rid of?” I asked.
“No, I need all my things.” He replied.
Somehow (I’m pretty sure it was the Spirit), I instantly knew that this “very special” personal stuff had a hold on Isaac. He didn’t know that. There’s no way He could have known that. But I saw it plain as day. Probably, even more so, because I had just seen the exact opposite in his older brothers.
I paused for a moment and turned to the Lord.
I knew what I had to do. I had to help him let go of some of his things.
I asked him to get everything out of his box again. He filled the floor of his bedroom with his “very special” stuff, and we started putting things back into his bin in order of “very specialness”. After putting about half of his things back into his bin, I changed tactics. Now it was time to start making some cuts. I counted how many things were left, and told Isaac that he could only choose 10 more things to go back into his bin.
His eyes began to fill with tears. I asked him what was wrong, and he began telling me:
“This one I got when Grandma and Granddad were here, and this one Tamtam and Grandpa gave me, and this one Micaiah made for me, etc…”
And my Mama Heart began to break.
But I knew that this was actually for his good. I would not be serving him well, as his mother, to let him remain attached to something that would only weigh him down. Is it precious that he wanted to keep them because people he loved had given them to him? Yes! Was he still attached to something unhealthily? Yes!
You see, these were not truly “very special” things. These were dollar store and kid’s meal toys. These were cheap plastic and paper. These were worthless. And they had a hold on his heart that would only get tighter if left.
After consoling him with hugs and reassurances that his family isn’t going to be hurt if he gets rid of these things, I offered to take pictures of him with the things so he could remember them. This is the process over the course of an hour:
You see these in close succession, but there was time taken between each picture to share his memories and to choose the next to go. However, you can see the lightness coming over him even through these pictures, can’t you? It was amazing the difference in him after we were done. He was still a little sad, and uncertain I was right, but he was lighter.
This last summer we had a garage sale. We were home in Oklahoma, so we spent some time organizing our storage unit, and each kid got to choose any of their own stuff they were ready to get rid of for good, after living without it for 2 years. It was amazing the difference in Isaac. He was willing to get rid of so much more than I expected. Maybe partly because he was older (and getting money in return for it), but I truly believe also because the hold on him had been broken; he carried much less of the weight of being attached to things.
I know the Lord does the exact same thing for us, and not just with physical things, but emotional as well. I’ll share my own similar story soon.
p.s. Have you had to walk your child through something painful recently, because you knew that it was best for them? It’s tough stuff, no?