“Getting rid of stuff is freeing. It’s so freeing… It’s addictive… It’s empowering…” It’s… it’s… it’s… all of those things, if you’re ready to get rid of stuff. But maybe you like you’re stuff. Maybe you don’t want to get rid of a lot of stuff but still feel overwhelmed organizing and caring for all of it. It’s OK to like your stuff. We (collective we) buy, keep and store many things for many different reasons. Many. Different. Reasons.

We need and desire to have things to assist with our everyday lives and the lifestyles we choose to lead. Some items have memories attached to them and it’s hard to let go because we feel like we are letting go of the moment it represents. Stuff is personal and getting rid of stuff can be hard. Doesn’t sound very freeing when you think of it that way.

In my post The Season We’re In I talked about how we are persuaded to buy frivolously without regard for what it does to our home, but there is a new movement on the rise and that is to have less. I’m all for having less. In fact, I’m a huge advocate for living with less, but nowadays minimal is a word tacked on to everything from clothing style, to art work, to lifestyle, to home decor, to jewelry. Maybe you’ve heard someone say, <insert smoozy tone> “I’m really into minimalism lately.” or “I’m just trying to live more minimal.” Like what does that even mean? Is there going to be a time after lately that you won’t be into having less? Is minimalism just a new trend to try?

Is the minimalism movement convincing people to get rid of their stuff for the sake of freedom or is it a new word that companies have grabbed hold of to sale more stuff?

Minimalism turned me on to the idea that the amount of stuff I used to have was stressing me out. Well honestly I knew that all of my stuff was stressing me out, but it opened up a little hope that I could and needed to do something about it, because on the other side of my piles of clutter was, in fact, freedom. But here’s the thing… If you aren’t ready to declutter, downsize, or donate items – then don’t. I was ready, but if I wasn’t I would have been bitter and begrudging.

I was talking to a dear friend last week about one of our past declutter small groups and she was commenting that she appreciated the perspective of stewardship that she gained from the few months that we decluttered together. Stewardship. I had never thought about my approach to decluttering as stewardship, but she was exactly right.

I knew that I was aiming for a purpose-driven, intentional ideal for my stuff but I believe stewardship encompasses it all. We can’t keep only things we enjoy and it’s quite restricting to keep only the things that we need. Instead of asking ourselves, “Is this something that I want?” or “Is this something that I need?”; how about we ask, “Is this something that will help me reach a means to an end? Will it help me accomplish something?”

So what does that mean? The definition of stewardship is the conducting, supervising, or managing of something, and often times we associate it with acts of service. “Joe was a good steward of his money because he was careful to spend it on worthy causes.” Or “The stewardess did an excellent job to take care of our concerns on the flight.”

When we look at our stuff through stewardship we end up with two categories. First are things we need, and second are things we enjoy, and some items fall into both, but if it is not something we need it HAS to be something we enjoy. If we are not enjoying something we have kept without need, it should go. Both categories of stuff should be utilized for a purpose, interacted with (or kept for a specific purpose at a planned time); for example: decorative items in your home serve you aesthetically, or your lawnmower is kept for the purpose of mowing lawn, but that cute cake stand that has been in a box for three years under the sink that you know you’ll never use needs to go. So keeping good quality items just because you don’t want to get rid of good stuff is no longer ok. Or keeping a whole box of unused blankets just because they were you grandmother’s is not enough of a reason. We should be interacting with our stuff frequently or we should let them go for someone else to interact with them.

If you aren’t using your stuff to steward your life then you are just stewarding your stuff. How we live in relation to our stuff works one of two ways, either you live to take care of stuff or you use your stuff to help take care of your life and the lives of others. Our stuff has no life, only a limited existence. We are the ones to choose how our stuff exists. When it all seems too much to handle, just remember the decisions have been in our hands all along. That cute cake stand can’t move itself to the donation box and nobody else (including you) can set a cake on top of it if it stays in the box under the sink.

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