Does it bring you joy? Someone suggested asking this question when paring down my possessions.
After some pondering, I realized that when considering holding onto or getting rid of some possession, I am more apt to ask myself, would letting it go make me feel guilty?
I have been incredibly blessed by generous people throughout my life, and my house has lots of objects I received as gifts. I imagine if I had bought all of those things, it would be easier to let go of them, but so much of what I own has a story and a memory connected to it.
Is it possible to hold onto the memory and the story—and let go of the object?Many years ago, I read a book about holding onto the gifts of retreat.
Retreats can be sacred moments in life, creating space to step out of daily routines, clear my mind of everyday worries, and focus on God and God’s will for me. Retreats offer the opportunity to get some distance and perspective, to look at how I am living and to consider any needed course corrections.
While on retreat, I often talk with God about what in my life needs to go—usually old fears, insecurities, anxieties and hurts.Holding onto those insights from retreat once I am back in my daily routine can be a challenge. Daily prayer helps. Regular meetings with a spiritual director also help. This book suggested asking these questions about everyday situations:
- Is this what I really want?
- Will this matter tomorrow? In ten years? At the end of my life?
- What do I think? feel? need? want?
The second set of questions has been the easiest for me to answer because I can see how insignificant many everyday occurrences really are. These questions have helped me let go of a great deal of hurt and anger. How much energy am I going to give to something that really has very little long-term significance?
The other questions, though, continue to challenge me. Like the question about what brings me joy, asking what I want or need seems somewhat foreign to me. It must be the way I was raised—spend very little time or thought on my own needs; focus more on the needs of others. This is also the message I take from the Bible.
Of course, I know that I do have wants and needs, and over the course of my life, I have come to see how much healthier I am when I get in touch with them.
So, what is it that brings me joy? The objects in my home? Or the memories attached to them?
It is definitely the memories that remind me how blessed I have been.
Last year, I committed to writing a “love” letter every day in February—a note to someone who had blessed my life and brought me joy. I called it twenty-eight days of love. I thank I will do that again.