Living Forward

Sometimes it’s easy to get stuck in the “stuff.” We hold onto things with sentimental value thinking it means we love someone.

I’m guilty. My family is guilty.

My husband, Gary, is an only child. Our house is filled with furniture, dishes, and knick-knacks after the loss of his aunt and his mom. We have boxes of things from his uncle stacked in storage. The items mean something to us, evoke wonderful memories, but at this point we don’t even know what’s in the boxes anymore.

Tomorrow marks one year since Gary’s dad left this earth and met our heavenly Father. Meredith’s beloved Grandpa. Our courageous “Grandpa.” Just a stone’s throw down the road sets his wood frame home filled with 1,300 square feet of more stuff. There’s a barn filled with the things that he touched, he tinkered with, he made. Grandpa was the great repurposer. He repurposed before “repurpose” became a popular concept. Surviving the depression, he always said, “I might need that.”

Do we feel overwhelmed? Yes.

We love Grandpa and we miss him. We love Micki & Sammy, Gary’s mom & aunt, and we still miss them after 18 years. But it is time for us to look forward, rather than backward, and we’re taking the first step: realizing that the present is the three of us and God has great plans for us. And, we’re striving to take the second step: acknowledging that we can’t keep all of the stuff that holds sentimental value to us.

As I mowed our yard recently, Grandpa’s yellow house stood brightly against the blue sky. With an acre to mow, I had lots of time to think about all the contents sitting in that house, mentally walking through each room. For the first time in a year, I felt no guilt as I pondered the items to remove from Grandpa’s house and place in the first garage sale. To let stuff go. My thoughts wandered from Grandpa’s stuff to the 24 year old baby bed, stroller, and high chair filling up a dilapidated storage building on our property, faded and covered in dust. “Let it go,” God whispered.

That first garage sale was yesterday.

Living forward won. Guilt lost. Our love isn’t in the stuff. It’s in the time we spend together and memories we make while living life in the present. Living forward means living in the now, living for the three of us, loving each other, encouraging each other, planning new adventures and creating memories while we continue to grow in faith, together and separately.

Living forward…that’s what God wants us to do. Holding onto stuff can be stifling and burdensome; love loses when you’re overwhelmed. Stuff won’t make our love stronger. Living life fully will.

Grandpa grew up in the roaring 20’s, survived the Great Depression, went to battle and sailed the oceans in World War II. He lived fully, and loved God and family for 92 years so I know he’d want us to do the same. Love isn’t in holding onto his stuff. His love remains in our hearts and vibrantly lives in our memories; nothing can take that away.

Today we begin living forward. Gary, Meredith & I choose to love God and each other, letting go of the stuff while wrapped in the memories of the love we shared with Grandpa, Grandma, and Aunt Sammy.

How about you? Are you overwhelmed with stored treasures, holding onto the past? Are you holding onto stuff rather than living forward?

Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:19-21, “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.”

Today, look upward. Living forward.