Moving is hard. I mean, I knew packing up a nine-person-household would take some doing. I expected it would be physically exhausting, and it is. (Those boxes don’t grow legs and walk themselves onto the truck.) I also knew it would be mentally exhausting, and it is. (I have the perpetual feeling that I’m forgetting about a dozen things each day.) But I was not, am not, prepared for how emotionally drained I feel.
For one thing, I’m in complete denial about leaving friends who are really more like family. Any time a wave of sadness swells, I shove it down to the deal-with-this-later part of my heart. And I focus instead on all the stuff we have to pack, because…Wow. We have a lot of stuff.
It hasn’t been easy to decide what to take and what to leave. And since I’m emotionally compromised these days, I am choosing to take the strangest things. For example, a few days ago while sorting a box of old photos, I came across a dead and dusty cockroach. I thought (for the first time ever) Awwwww. He’s kind of cute. And I thought of how roaches will always remind me of Georgia, got a little misty, and left him in the box. I could’ve just bought that Georgia-shaped cutting board from Bed, Bath and Beyond to remind me of my time in the South, but no. A cockroach it is.
And that, my friends, sums up my state of mind these days. Instead of throwing things away, I’m packing all this stuff that I really don’t need: A single crocheted sock for my Cabbage Patch Kid, a broken sand dollar from my best friend, Luke’s crib bumper, macaroni necklaces, 20 year old valentines from Anna and Philip, a driver’s ed manual from Dad, a pink and while golf hat, letters, love notes, movie ticket stubs and dried, crusty corsages.
In the end I’m left with a pile of stuff that doesn’t really fit in any box. But what bothers me more is this: Why do I feel the need to hang on to all of this? Why can’t I just let it go? (Sing it, Elsa.)
I’ve mulled this over with each box I fill, each trash bag I throw and each trip I make to Goodwill. I finally realized it’s not the “stuff” I’m attached to, it’s what that “stuff” represents. I think what I’m really fighting against is the passage of time, aging, and the knowledge that one day I won’t just leave a house behind. I’ll leave the world itself and everything in it I’ve grown to love.
Further mulling has made me realize that, for the Christian, this shouldn’t be a hard truth to come to terms with. It’s really the best news ever. As Grandma Tiefel would say, “Life is like a trip from New York to Los Angeles. Why would I want to turn around and go all the way back to New York when I’ve made it as far as Salt Lake City?” Or if you don’t like Grandma’s analogy, the Apostle Paul says it quite eloquently, “…But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)
Moving forward, growing, changing, and yes, even aging, are all part of the goal we are striving for. Heaven isn’t some consolation prize. It’s something we press toward with eager anticipation. Evidence that time is passing is all around me, especially now as I collect my possessions for packing. But my life’s work should not be centered around saving the stuff I’ve accumulated or collecting more stuff. It shouldn’t be spent bemoaning how fast the kids are growing and how quickly time passes. Instead, my focus should be eternal.
God has gently and graciously brought this truth to my heart. He says, “Do not collect for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
That’s where I want my heart to be. That’s my truest, most treasured possession. No packing required.