The Need Met, Epilogue

I wrote last Wednesday about how I have felt compelled to give clothes and shoes to some specific women in need.  Really compelled to action by Jen Hatmaker’s “7,” but I’ve been struggling with this feeling of having TOO MUCH since last August when I went through my 39 Things challenge.  I had to write to share what happened as a result of last Wednesday’s post, but first I decided to share a story.

My parents divorced when I was 12.  We moved from Kansas to Texas at the end of my seventh grade year.  My mother stored all our things, stuffed animals, furniture, etc., in the garage of our rental house as she got us moved and then a friend was going to bring our things down in a trailer a couple of weeks later.  We moved in with my grandparents because we had nowhere else to go.  The landlord back in Kansas got drunk and went into that rental house garage and took everything in it to the city dump.  Or so the story went.  He could have taken it for his own house, we didn’t know.  We just knew that it was all gone.  The last tangible things we had here on Earth.  I remember very little from that time but I do remember this beautiful red stuffed parrot.  Someone had given it to me for my twelfth birthday.  I loved that bird.  It was among the things taken.

That is no excuse for what I have collected, but it’s just a little bit of background on why I am so sentimental about everything.  I keep things for me and my kids because I don’t ever want them to be in a house with none of their furniture or familiar things that give them comfort during a time of needing serious comfort.  As a Christian, I realize that comfort comes from a faithful and loving God, but as a pre-teen, I could have really used that parrot.

After last Wednesday’s post, I found four women in need.  I walked into my closets (yes, both of them) praying that God would reveal things for me to give them.  I truly believed that after giving two trash bags away already, I would not have enough to give to these women.  My heart was racing as I pulled things off of hangers and out of drawers.  You know where I got stuck.  This t-shirt.  This plain navy t-shirt.

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I was in tears.  I felt very clearly that I needed to give it away because I never wear it, but I didn’t want to.  It was a t-shirt I bought while studying comparative law in Oxford, England at Magdalen College.  It represents a time to me.  And the truth is, none of these women probably needed a navy Magdalen College t-shirt.  But I felt so strongly I had to give it away because of what it represented.  I am hanging on to so much STUFF because of the emotion I have attached to things.  But that shirt is not the experience.  It’s not even a photo of the experience.  And with each experience, I hold on to one more thing.  So I added it to the stack.  Then I piled all the items up in the guest room and started praying that I would give just the right thing to the right woman.  To the newly single mom with an infant and a hearing impaired Autistic toddler.  Now she had to get a job.  To the woman who had just this past year lost her husband, her grandfather, and whose daughter had been shot.   Now she had to get a job.

Friends, here is the pile (the bed couldn’t contain it all).  And then the stack for each woman afterwards.  I didn’t only have something for every woman, I had a trash bag full for every woman that included clothes, shoes, a purse, and jewelry.  Not only that, I was able to give the woman with the toddler things for her son.

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But look at my closets.  Clearly more bare than they have been in a decade, but still TWO closets of clothes that have more than I need after this exercise.

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I also had the opportunity to give a couple of bags to a three-year old girl who had been newly fostered and had not one item of clothing or toys.  But even in that process I fought my emotions.  Little bit helped me pull together the bags for the girl and offered me a pink bunny rabbit to add to the pile.  Oh y’all, I did not want to give that bunny away.  It held some sweet memories for me even though I didn’t remember who gave it to little bit nor did any of the kids play with it.  This was going to go to a child with nothing and still I sat there and struggled.

I don’t believe you need to give everything in your house (or my house) away.  I have a big box in the attic filled with mementos from the kids’ infancy for them in the future if they want it.  But when the stuff you collect starts blocking your relationship with the Lord or your need to rely on Him, then it is time for it to go.  It was time.  I have been blessed ten thousand times more than what we had in that garage 27 years ago, and it’s time I let go.

 

Comments

  1. OH Gindi. That is so beautiful. I love your heart, sweet friend. : ) Thank you for being so open with all you’ve been through. I’ve never posted about this (I guess I thought it was better to keep quiet about it)…but when I went through a divorce, years ago, I left a few precious things in the empty house, thinking I didn’t want them to get messed up in the shuffle on the “big moving day”. In between having to go back to work and having two small children and just being exhausted (and probably wanting to go back as little as possible), I got very few of those things out. Very quickly, over the course of a couple of days, an already strained relationship completely fell apart, and because my ex decided to move back into the house, I was totally shut out and never able to get those things. One of those “things”? All of my oldest children’s baby pictures. Yep. Gone. Made me realize the danger of putting things off until tomorrow, “I’ll go back to that house tomorrow, I’m too tired tonight…” but also it’s funny because I don’t often take pictures anymore. It almost made me go the other way…as long as I have the picture in my mind…no one can take it. Now, fast on the heels of 40…my mind is forgetting those pictures though!!! HAHAHA!!

    • Oh Christine – thank you, and I know. But YOU SHOULD TAKE pictures. The wife of that landlord intervened and grabbed a box out as he trashed everything so my momma does have our baby pictures because of that one save. That was the most important stuff in the lot. Just loving sharing our journey together – and you write, publish what you write, do it, you are called!

  2. Beautiful Story GIndi…..My closet is too OVERFLOWING with things I for some reason hang on to….(Mostly they are of a size I can no longer fit in to…but that is another story in itself!) I desperately need to clean out and this has given me the push I need to MOVE FORWARD! Our church is starting a shoe (new and used) drive and heaven knows I have more than I need in that department! Thanks for all the great reminders of where our time and heart belong!!!

    • Thank you Rae – and boy do I know the size conundrum, I offered three sizes of clothes to women, a reflection of my body’s constant changing. There are so many people quietly in need that never raise a hand until they hear, “hey, I have this, do you know someone who could use it?”

      • Rae Sinor says:

        You’re so right! I have connections to The Bridge, a women’s shelter here in our area! I’m calling them today to see what their needs are and going to get to cleaning!! Thanks for the inspiration!!

  3. Gindi,
    Your story resonates with me; I also have issues with stuff. I have a couple experiences that taught me that everything I truly need I carry with me when I walk around…I just need to remember that lesson; hopefully without experiencing the pain of loss over and over….I will be sharing this with my Gayle-she’s got issues too.
    Thank you for opening your heart.
    Peace and good, sister dreaner…

    • Thank you Chelle for sharing – it’s such a hard path to walk, living in a material world but relying on God instead of our things – you would think that would have taught me but I’m still a work in progress.

  4. Inspiring!

  5. Gindi,
    I so appreciate your openness and my heart tugged for you (and the parrot). After “losing” houses and their contents and moving to Texas to live in a trailer park with 3 children so my hubby could finish school,the Lord taught me first hand of God’s promise to provide. It is so hard when going through it, but so valuable to review. Had I seen what we were to go through at the time, I would have run the other way, but looking back I understand that I would only have learned it from experience. I don’t want to go back, but I am grateful for the past as I appreciate more what it means to be given and to give. We have been blessed beyond my imagination and I need a reminder now and then to release “things” as I have the potential to hoard due to the fear of losses in the past. Looking around each day at what God has given me to caretake, I am so grateful and yet feel so undeserving. I remind myself often that it is all His anyway. Any “things” may be taken in a flash and yet His love for me will never ever leave me. Thank you for reminding me once again what is truly important.

    • Thank you Linda. I know you know accutely how hard it can be and especially for kids who don’t quite understand it all yet or fathom how God’s working even in the midst of the valley. I do appreciate things 10 times more now than had I not walked that path….

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