This is a common thought we have when we want to declutter and get organized. I would bet that if you have a small (or large) problem in your home with clutter that you (or someone in your home) has used that phrase once or twice. This thought can sometimes even paralyze our ability to get rid of anything.
My grandmother was born to a poor family in 1930 and spent her childhood playing with bits and pieces of scraps and junk in the yard rather than the playhouses, swing-sets and electric ride-on cars that her great grandchildren enjoy. Unlike many of her generation, who struggle with hoarding, she kept an immaculate home all of her life.
Before I share the 6 principle I learned from my grandma about how to answer this question, I want to be sure you haven't missed any of Becky's blog posts from December.
Through the years I’ve seen my Grandma go from a prosperous real estate broker to a retired person, to a widow living with her children and everything in between. She has truly learned “... how to get along with humble means, and...how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance (she) learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” (Philippians 4:12)
Though she never purposefully taught me how the answer to the “what If I need it someday” question I have learned several principles and heart-attitudes from watching her, that help me to answer that question well.
1. Live within your means.
Don’t buy things you can’t afford, but rather, make do with what you have. Live frugally, do it yourself, mend it, fix it rather than buy new. This applies not only to your finances, but also to the space you have. She only had the amount of stuff that she had room for weather she lived in a large home or a tiny studio apartment.
Grandma would often marvel. “Garages are for cars. I don’t know why people pay $30,000 for a car and then park it in the driveway while their junk that’s worth $1000 (at best) fills the garage!”
2. Take care of what you have.
If we realized that owning something is a responsibility, we would be less likely to hold onto things. When we simply sore stuff away rather than actively use and care for it then we are not being responsible. When you are decluttering ask yourself when is the last time you used it and how faithful are you being at caring for it. If it has been a while and it is covered in dust or you forgot it existed then you don’t need it!
Grandma was meticulous in caring for her possessions. Getting stains out was almost a game for her! There was a squeegee in her shower to prevent hard water build up. She had a file with every receipt, manual and maintenance record for everything major she owned and when she decided to sell something she no longer needed she got top dollar because of how meticulously she had cared for it.
3. Be Thankful.
This is the key to contentment isn’t it? Thankfulness leads to enjoying what you have rather than hoarding it. It is difficult be thankful for what you don’t use and love. If it is shoved in a corner or a garage or storage facility then you are probably not very thankful for it.
When she sold her home after my grandfather passed away she went from an 1800 square foot home and moved into a 600 square foot mother-in-law suite at my parents house. She was thankful to be with them, she loved making that little space her home and I remember her joy at making a tiny artist studio in the sunny entry porch. She filled a wall from floor to ceiling with her favorite paintings and set up her easel and paints on top of a favorite antique rug. Disciplined thankfulness helps us to live happily in every circumstance of life.
4. Give to Others.
Giving to others gets your eyes off yourself and your stuff and gets it on to others. If you plan to buy a new car, why not give your old one to someone in need rather than trade it in? Do you know how to cook? Teach someone who doesn’t. Are you planning a meal this week? Why not make 2 extra portions and deliver it to an elderly person who isn’t up to cooking any more.
This kind of giving opens your eyes to what you DO have and helps you to know what to get rid of. If Grandma had 2 and someone needed 1, she would not hesitate to give just give it to them. Remember that someone’s current need is more pressing than your possible future need.
5. Work Hard.
It isn’t easy to care for things. You need to expect that if you own it it will need to be maintained. Organizing and decluttering is a daily task not a once-a-year thing. When the mail comes deal with it. When you dirty a dish wash it. Did you spill sauce on the stove when cooking? Wipe it now, don’t leave it for later.
Grandma had a dog once. Every time she would bring it in from outside she would get a little cloth to wipe its feet and legs so that it wouldn’t dirty the carpet. I know that sounds a little over-the-top, but she didn’t have to shampoo her carpets nearly as much that way. 5 minutes of work now saves 2 hours later!
6. It’s God who provides for us.
Probably the heart of the question “What if I need it later?” is that you are worried you may never have it again. I moved a few years ago and got rid of A TON of things in preparation. I have said to my husband “where is that…” and he has said “we sold it when we moved” more than once, however we are still alive! In fact it is so wonderful to find new ways to accomplish things without that thing I am looking for that I got rid of.
Grandma was always getting rid of things. Once when helping her clean out a closet I asked her about how she got rid of things so easily and she told me, “If God gave it to me the first time I needed it, and He will give it to me when I need it again, then I don’t need to hold onto it now.”
“For this reason I say to you,do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on ...Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?...And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? ...for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:25-32)
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