Well, today was go through the garage day. When we moved two weeks ago, we knew there was a very real possibility that we may not get to keep any of our things. We brought into the house only what could be put through a dish washer or wiped down with clorox wipes.
And now that we know for sure that we can’t keep our other things…the garage has loomed before us like a mighty giant for the last seven days. I’ve just felt so completely miserable physically that I’ve dreaded going through a garage full of stuff. And last night’s bedtime didn’t help my outlook on things. How do you tell your sweet six-year-old that every single one of her toys and clothes and books and blankets…needed to be given away or thrown away. The tears poured down her freckled cheeks as I tried to explain yet again why her friends can have her toys…but that her toys are no longer safe for her body. The koala we got her on her first mission trip to Australia. The dress I had just bought her for our Mommy-daughter Christmas date. The beautiful star blankey her great-grandma made. It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around all of this…I can’t imagine what it’s like to view this craziness through a little person’s eyes. But we are currently taking the same supplements they give to people who have AIDS. Our doctor has clearly communicated (the 9 times I asked and then re-asked) that our immune systems are just so completely compromised, that the few mycotoxins that remain on our clothes regardless of endless washing, are simply not safe for our bodies, though to other people, they are fine. Try explaining that to a six-year-old.
And it hasn’t been much better for me. I started to get really angry last night, thinking of selling all of my awesome Anthropologie clothes to total strangers for $1.50. Everyone’s got talent. Some people are good at singing…some people are good at knitting. My talent…is finding the world’s best deals at Anthropologie. I only shop in the sale section, I get 15% off during my birthday month, and I know when all the big sales are. It’s not much of a talent, but it’s mine. And I really liked all of my beautiful, discounted Anthro clothes.
I felt angry. Garage sales are supposed to be so you can get rid of all the things that you don’t like. You’re supposed to feel happy when total strangers walk away with all your old, unwanted things. But this garage sale is for all the things I do like. And I certainly didn’t feel happy. I was angry and sad and snappy last night as I thought about losing all of my favorite things.
And I realized in that moment that it would be way harder to sell my clothes to strangers that I don’t like, than to simply give my clothes to people I do like. So…I texted some of my friends pictures of all my favorite clothes and invited them to go shopping. There were a surprising amount of tears during the process…and none of the tears were mine. I actually found myself smiling. It felt so good to give my favorite things away. We have been completely overwhelmed by the incredible generosity of the Body of Christ this week, and it felt great to actually bless someone with my old things.
And the more time I spent giving the things away, the more I began to look down at every shirt and start to think, “This is just…thread.” The kids favorite stuffed animals…that’s just fur. And the beautiful programs from our wedding that I had to throw away? Well, that’s just paper. Pressed trees actually.
And my life is about so much more than pretty threads and pressed trees.
When you are forced to stand in a cemetery and watch your child’s body being lowered into a tiny grave…you know in the deepest places of your being that nothing, nothing, nothing matters like a person’s life. When you’ve lost the most precious thing that can be lost in this life…it feels like nothing to lose your things.
And the terrible reality is that that kind of loss is coming…to all our lives.
We threw away, gave away, or prepared to sell about 80% of our worldly possessions today. We’re going to vacuum pack a few of our most favorite things (like Charlie’s teddy) and supposedly, the mycotoxins will eventually die. You wait five years and then slowly reintroduce things one item at a time. Then, you wait. You wait to regress, or to get healthy. But I don’t want to spend five years trying to get healthy, just so we can maybe get sick again. When you’re a kid…five years is an eternity. And are we really going to keep everything we own in vacuum sealed bags for half a decade?
It was so painful seeing the kids tears over their favorite things, that we eventually had to send them inside. That worked well, right up until Emma yelled down to us from the window…“Mommy! Why are you getting rid of my Bible…that’s God HOLY WORD!” She is Just. So. Great.
But we made it. And we did it. Like people who stand in the ashes of a house full of burned things…we survived the slow burn of mycotoxins, and stood in the ashes of our things today.
And one thing got me through it.
A story about a suitcase. My senior year of college one of my dearest friend’s lost her mom to cancer. She was a wonderful, deep, godly lady. And she gave her kids an incredible treasure one night, when she called them together around her bed and gave her favorite people her favorite things. She passed out jewelry and family treasures, and then she said, “I also wanted to share with you the most precious thing.”
And that’s when she pulled out the suitcase.
When her friends first found out that she was sick, they flew all the way from Germany just to give her a special suitcase. The suitcase was filled with letters from all of the people who had been loved through her life. And at the end of her life, she opened the suitcase and said to her kids, “This suitcase is filled with souls. Live for the souls. They are the only thing you can truly take with you from this place.”
As we got ready to sell my great-grandma’s antique red chair, all of my favorite childhood toys, and a thousand other paper and thread type things, I just kept thinking of what really mattered. What really makes it into the suitcase I’m packing for Heaven…through Earths’ long days.
The souls of my precious babies I will someday meet.
The souls of the people around me- people like you- as we walk with one another through this long, hard life.
And the souls of the people I have yet to meet.
We each get one suitcase. And I want to fill mine to the brim with what matters. Not papers from my wedding, or love letters from Reid, or stuff from Anthropologie.
But the souls of the the people, whom God has loved through our lives.