More or Less?

In the first eight years of our marriage, my wife and I lived in eight different locations. For the last eight years, we have had one address. When we moved from Indiana to North Carolina, all our possessions fit into a 12 foot box truck. Five years later (and one kid), it took a 30 foot truck to move to Ohio. Today, it may take two of those trucks to move our family of four, but I have no plans to find out for fear it would.

Table-Saw-Assisted

Table-Saw (Photo credit: Jóvan Jules ρнσтσgяαρну)

I often walk to our basement, attic, and garage and see tools and other items I have not used for a very long time, if ever. Many of the tools were from my dad after he passed away. I thought I was going to make a lot of items of wood. There are also workbenches, storage boxes, and extra wood from my father-in-law, all waiting around for me to do something with them. Most of it has been sitting around for at least three years, some as long as five or six years. Add to that the kites we flew four Easters ago that have not moved since, a child’s dresser we moved out of her room two years ago, and several items sitting in corners of the attic that have been there since we moved in.

At one point, I thought a lot of the stuff that is just taking up space was necessary to my life. If I were honest with myself, I would admit that most of it is simply in my way and a hassle to work around, especially the stuff in the garage where the car barely fits anymore. Of the three power saws I own, I only use one on any regular basis, the other two are just taking up space. The two extra workbenches just frustrate me because they take up so much space and our bikes which we use regularly, barely fit in the garage.

What would happen if I got rid of the tools? Would I miss them? Likely not. I have not made anything for many years. Most of the things I made with these tools were when they were in my dad’s possession. I enjoyed spending time with him while making a hope chest for my future bride, a clock for my sister, and a few other items. The community and relationships formed around those tools are memorable to me. If I got rid of these tools and needed to use a similar tool in the future, I know I could use a friend’s. And by using that friend’s, I would have the opportunity to spend time with them, just like I did with my dad, building that relationship.

I just completed Jeff Shinabarger’s book, More or Less: Choosing a Lifestyle of Excessive Generosity (affiliate link) and came to this conclusion: I have more than enough stuff. I have too much of some things, and therefore have no need to rely on my community to help meet those needs. I have too much and am robbing myself of opportunities to build deeper relationships with others. I have too much and have an opportunity to bless others by giving that excess away.

Reading Jeff’s book has encouraged me to examine areas of my life in which I have enough. He states “There’s a continuous line that we all must define and redefine at many different points in our lives. Do we meed more, or would we be better off with less?” I have decided that I will likely be better off with less. Now to get rid of a few things!

What is one area in your life where you would be better off with less?

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6 Comments on “More or Less?”

  1. Kat Steiner says:

    As someone who admittedly loves “stuff”, I found this to be thought provoking. As always, thank you for sharing this insight and book reference.

  2. Carol Christian says:

    I watched a financial show on
    tv recently…they suggested to go through your entire house every two years and get rid of everything you had not used in that timeframe. If you donate to Goodwill or another charitable organization, you, also, have the possibility of a tax refund for your savings account!!!

    • Great idea! Could also donate that stuff to other organizations that use it to provide directly to those who need it. I can think of the shoes that we donated to some missionaries who will give them directly to villagers that walk hundreds of miles without shoes.

  3. Cate Brinnon says:

    Right there with you in the reflection stage. Your conclusion is SPOT ON! I witness my parents who cling to things as if these things will add to their lives. Perhaps a generational characteristic…they did NOT live in the “disposable society” we seem to find ourselves in. Be careful not to “fill” your decluttered life with more stuff! It seems our society and our economy depends on you doing so.

    Another good read (yes, I did read,,,MOST of it…is “Secrets of the Vine” by Bruce Wilkinson. Perhaps Carol is right…we should pretend we are moving every two years. By the way, I have some wonderful connections to poeple who collect clothes for migrant workers and their children. This seems to be an invisible community of people here in our area.

    • Great idea, Cate, on helping out the migrant workers in the area. The author began giftcardgiver.com to match up needs with gift cards that only have a small amount left on them, but when combined with other cards, can make a huge difference.

      And in the generational collector category, I remember my grandma collecting bread bags and twisty ties–always had a drawer full just in case she might need them.


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