I've moved. However diligent I may pretend to be about culling through my belongings and only moving things I use, really use, that lofty goal makes it through the first five boxes I pack on my own. Then, I surrender to the movers, who just pack it all. I'll sort it out when I get to my new home, I offer to no one in particular other than my own conscious.
Now I'm in my new home and unpacking. A friend who's moved a few times in her military career explained the three box theory to me. Put three boxes in a room. One is garbage, things I have that need to end their lives of use because they are broken or just worn out and have no hope of being recycled. And be harsh, she said, because no one needs your broken answering machine or the cracked glassware that didn't make the move, no matter if it is Lenox. Box two: the things that I definitely don't need anymore, but someone might. Various charitable stores will be happy to take the mismatched dishes I've never really used, books I've read that I don't want to keep, and that tragic printed towel set I received as a gift from a long-deceased great aunt. The last box is the tough one: things that had a place in my last life and home, but just don't seem to fit anywhere in my new life and home. Or, let's be honest, stuff for which I never really had a place, but like keeping, because somehow I decided keeping those twelve dessert cups will ensure my place in heaven. I was advised to live in my new space for a while, but when it's time, be willing to let go of the shower curtain that doesn't match the new bathroom or the picture frames that don't seem to fit anywhere. Let them go to a new, good home or whoever may need them.
As you can imagine, the last box is the tough one. Eventually, almost everything in this box will end up being given away if you engage the process, according to my friend. Getting to that admission, however, takes a bit of detachment. As I looked at a stack of picture frames and a few thousand plastic hangars which seemed to appear out of nowhere, I started that internal dialogue about how I might use these one day, and maybe I'd better save them, just in case.
"Just in case...what?" My sassy pirate-side of my soul asked. Plastic hangars suddenly become a valuable currency? You just happen to need twelve picture frames that are chipped or just ugly? They are taking up space, just like those crutches in the corner.
Oh, yes, the crutches. I broke a bone in my foot a few years ago and somehow ended up owning the crutches. So I kept them. While my bone was healing, they were quite handy. They did their pretty limited task of helping me walk very well. When I couldn't stand or walk on my own, those crutches were quite the amazing presence in my life. Then my bone healed, and I stuck the crutches in a hall closet. I might break another bone, so better to keep them, I reasoned. No matter that the odds of that happening were slim. Or that if I did break a bone or do something that hampered my mobility, I might receive a new pair of crutches that didn't have the rubber grips dry rotting.
Nope. I just kept this old pair for several years, dragging them around as I moved, letting them take up space wherever I lived.
We all have the crutches in the corner, the crutches of our lives we once needed to help us stand or walk because we were injured, physically, emotionally, or spiritually (and if you don't think you have any because you've never been injured, well...). My crutches, at least the ones leaning in the corner, were tangible, but I've got a few of those symbolic crutches, too. We all do - those thoughts, excuses, people, or behaviors that we needed at some point to help us when we were injured, battered, tired, and bruised. Then one day, we realized the bones had mended, the fabric of the soul is rewoven, and our bruises have faded. We can walk, run, sing, dance, or do whatever God is inviting us to do. So we drop the crutches and leave them, right? Like the people Jesus healed who trusted Christ's healing and went on, crutch-free?
Sometimes. But many times, I think we have to drag them around for a while, letting them take up space in our lives, in our homes, and in our selves. We know we are healed, but we keep wondering if the healing took, if we are really living this new creation. Maybe we even try to recycle the crutches. Maybe I can use these in the garden, we think. Yes, a trellis. That will work. And sometimes, crutches do get recycled, but God does that and said recycling feels good and right, not something to drag around that lives in our soul rent free.
Jesus, through the voices of our own soul and the voices of friends, keeps saying, "Really, you're okay. Why are you keeping what you don't need anymore?"
But we do keep what we don't need anymore, just in case. Eventually we come to believe, to know that God will provide new ones, when we need them. Ones that aren't dry rotted. Ones particularly suited to our new injury. But dragging around the old ones takes energy and space in our lives. Oh yes, we remember them and give thanks as we release them, but they don't need to take up space anymore, not even a small corner in a tiny closet.
My foot is healed and has been for some time. So they go, those well-used and appreciated crutches. Now I pass them on to whoever may need them.