Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Retain or Remove

“Don’t worry,” the saleslady told me when I ordered laminate flooring for our main floor, “Our workers will move the furniture as they install. They’ll move everything to one side, do that side then move it all to the other side of the room.”

That sounded wonderful.  I have children and grandchildren who could help, but they all have busy lives.  If the workmen would move the furniture, I wouldn’t have to bother them. 
The first thing I saw when I came home and started imagining the ratty, stained carpet replaced by shining laminate, was the big glass cupboard fashioned by my loving husband, full of dishes—good dishes that seldom get used.  If the workmen tried to move that with the dishes inside, they’d probably not able to budge it, and if they did, the dishes would go for a slide.  Obviously, I will have to take the dishes out.  What if I found other places for those I don’t really need?  That would de-clutter my life and make it easier to keep clean. 

I moved to my office.  As a writer, and a bit of a sentimental pack rat, I have files and files of interesting items I might need some time (emphasis on might and some.)  My bookshelf is full of books about writing and for writing.  Some I use often, others I have barely scratched the surface of the pool of wisdom contained in them.  I have copies of talks given and revised for a slightly different setting.  Oh, they’re on my computer too, but I might need them sometime in the future.  There are CD’s and installation discs for computer programs that have long ago become extinct. I began to sort and decipher which of those items need to be kept and which need to go.  But the flooring people are due to come next week.

Reluctantly, I began to put things in boxes and marking them as to contents, storing them in our garage with the aim to sort when I return my office to working order after the floors are installed.  In the back of my mind I wonder how long that is going to take and fear that some of those boxes may never see the light of day.

This morning as we read or daily devotional and God’s word, it dawned on me how much my life and my mind resemble my office.  In today’s world we are assaulted with information from so many directions.  I love facts about just about everything.  I’m interested in people and love to be able to respond to needs to encourage those going through difficult times, to remember birthdays and anniversaries, and to send cards for different occasions or no occasion at all.  I like to stay in touch with friends from long ago and friends currently in my life.  I am involved in many committees and organizations doing all kinds of good things: when I’m involved I don’t want to be only an observer, so I often chair the committee, take minutes or participate in an active way.  Often my mind feels like my office—books, binders, reference materials, pictures, articles in files and drawers, stacked on shelves and overflowing—a whole pile of information waiting to be filed, and sometimes lost in the plethora, the overabundance of material.

When it comes to my office and my mind, it seems to be not just a question of whether, but a necessary action that must be taken.  I realize I’m not getting younger.  My mind is still active and I want to keep it that way.  However like many machines, if I keep feeding it too much and too fast, it can get overloaded and perhaps my grind to a halt.  I need to discern more closely what is necessary, what is expedient and what is superfluous, what can be left for others to do.  For some people, the super organizers, that may come naturally.  I’ve always had distaste for those who sit back and say “Someone else can do that.”  I fear becoming one of those people, so it’s hard for me to let go.  I need counsel and wisdom to help me know what to discard from my life and what to retain—both in my office and in my mind. 

How glad I am for James 1:5—“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” 

Ruth Smith Meyer is included in the anthology, "Fifty Shades of Grace."

She is also author of two adult novels, "Not Easily Broken," and the sequel "Not Far from the Tree," and a children's book dealing with grief, "Tyson's Sad Bad Day." 


Janis Cox said...

Oh Ruth,
I so do understand you. I have been reading even further into what does God want me to do. Maybe none of this - or all of it. I am still in persistent prayer asking Him to help me to discern where to put my energy.

Thanks so much.
Janis www.janiscox.com

Peter Black said...

So many touché areas, here. Pack-rat with a practical bent, in hope that hoarded items -- whether books or files or other things -- might come in useful someday; also being interested in "just about everything." Thanks.
Hmm, yes, Jan's apropos point on praying for discernment in where to invest energy is well-taken, too. ~~+~~

Kathleen Gibson said...

Ah, Ruth. So many of us share this same habit. Books are the hardest to wean, aren't they? Thanks for this practical reminder that nothing is beyond taking to Father and asking for his wisdom. I needed this today.

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