She stood in the middle of the living room. Firefighter #1 was running from the living room to the balcony, arms full of household items and throwing them over the railing of the balcony to the ground five stories below.
Firefighter #2 was checking off a list tucked to a clipboard. The woman craned her head to catch a glimpse of that list. She was shocked to see it was a detailed list of all her earthly possessions. As soon as he had an item checked off, the item magically flipped into the arms of firefighter #1, and off he went to throw the item off the balcony again.
She inched toward the floor-to-ceiling windows and caught a glimpse of the action down below. A number of fire trucks were blocking the entrance to her building, their strobe lights warning everyone danger was close by.
She called her daughter’s name. She heard her slowly shuffle through the hallway.
“What is it, mom?” she asked
“Why wasn’t there a fire alarm?”
“How should I know? Is there a fire? There’s no fire in our place.”
“Then why are these firefighters in here, throwing our stuff over the balcony?” she was frustrated.
She could feel the heat spreading under her feet and the floor buckling right where she stood. What was happening here? The woman stopped firefighter #2 and pressed him for info, “Where is this fire? Why are you both here?”
He looked in disbelief at her, “Didn’t anyone tell you? The fire’s in the apartment below yours?”
“Then why are you going through my things? Why is that even necessary? Why would I lose everything because of a fire a floor below?” She questioned irritated.
“What if your apartment were on fire, right here? What would happen if you did lose everything?” firefighter #2 asked.
She looked around the living room. Most of her things weren’t there anymore. “I have insurance,” she mumbled. “They will pay for replacing what I’ve lost today.”
I sat up in bed. It had been a dream, vivid and full of details. There was no fire alarm and no firefighters in my apartment. I took a deep breath and tried to calm down.
What triggered this dream? Is it my parents’ and grandparents’ life stories I’m working on these days? Or is it my insurance bill waiting to be paid in a few days?
What would happen if I did lose everything? – This question hung in the air. What would I do? Would I even want to replace everything? Would I want to fill up my apartment with things that were presently there?
I’m in the process of collecting the fifth load for another trip to the thrift store. With each load I get more radical. Especially since I read a statement by Joshua Becker, author of “Clutterfree with Kids,”
“Owning less is better than organizing more.”
I so wish I had started living according to these words much earlier. Cleaning out my house, decluttering and downsizing have forced me to re-evaluate what matters to me most. I do not want to spend more time organizing “stuff.” I’d rather make memories with my children and my precious grandson, or drive out to visit my parents, or spend time with friends.
This radical approach to eliminate nonessential “stuff” is spilling over to other areas of my life. I’ve scaled down my wardrobe to three main colors, and I love it! This decision has saved me countless hours of choosing what to wear. Even shopping has become a breeze since I go only to the racks and shelves that contain my chosen colors. Laundry is incredibly simple, not many colors to sort. Will I always stick to these three colors? I don’t know. But for the time being it has freed up some valuable time and energy to focus on things that need my attention at this stage of my life.
Jesus taught: “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Matthew 6:19-21 (New Living Translation)
I confess, I’m guilty of not following this command. Jesus, remind me daily to evaluate how I use resources you have entrusted to me! I want my life to be more about loving and caring for people around me. I want my thoughts and energy spent on people, not “stuff.”
Eyes blinded by the fog of things
cannot see truth.
Ears deafened by the din of things
cannot hear truth.
Brains bewildered by the whirl of things
cannot think truth.
Hearts deadened by the weight of things
cannot feel truth.
Throats choked by the dust of things
cannot speak truth.
― Harold Bell Wright, The Uncrowned King