"It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not
be subject again to a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1
A couple of weeks ago Matthew was rummaging through our pantry trying to find a particular food item, only to turn around, with a look of defeat on his face and say "our pantry looks like a hoarder's!" (major insult to this neat-freak). I retrieved the item he had been looking for, but knew right then and there something had to be done....immediately. Cause you know what? He was totally right. There was a huge mound of baking ingredients in one corner that looked more like a big trash pile than something you'd want to bake a cake with, there were boxes of cereal "attacking" anyone who dared to open up the pantry door, and besides just a general lack of organization, there were way too many multiples of things....things I didn't realize I even had!
It only took me about an hour to wipe down every shelf and re-evaluate and reorganize the pantry...and what a relief it was! Here are a few things that helped me get back on track:
*I relocated my baking "mound" to a nice galvanized pail and put it in our revolving corner cabinet for easy access. This way it was out of the pantry (creating more space) and directly under the baking area of our kitchen. Now when I want to bake something I can just pull out the pail instead of sifting through a pile in the pantry.
*If I had multiples of things, which I did (I actually had 6 bags of brown sugar, some opened, some not and 3 containers of corn syrup! All of which I rarely use anyway!) I consolidated bags/containers as best as possible.
*If it was past the expiration date...it was a goner!
*If I knew I probably wouldn't be using it again....it was a goner!
*If it looked "iffy"....it was a goner!
*Related items were organized in the same area (canning goods with other cans, pastas & rice together, etc).
*Frequently used items were the most accessible (though everything is still very accessible).
As I was in the process of purging and cleaning, I asked myself these two questions that seemed to speed up the process..."is it adding to my life, or is it taking away from my life?" And if the answer is the latter, then how is it taking away from my life?
I know it may sound a little too deep for a simple endeavor such as organizing the pantry, but lately I've really been thinking......what is the purpose of "stuff?" Whether it be foodstuffs, clothing, furniture, toys, home decor, etc etc....what is God's intended purpose for it all? Here in America we are blessed with so much, but at the same time, I know (at least for me) it can sometimes get a little out of hand. If I am spending twice as much time trying to find something just because I have too much, then I am in bondage to my things. If I am constantly cleaning my things, fixing my things, polishing my things, and caring for my things and have no room leftover for relationships with people and with my Lord, then I am in bondage to my things. If I let my things define me (whether to have too much or too little or not the latest and greatest), I am in bondage to my things. If I am making excuses after excuses for reasons why I can't do important things in life (like relationships!) because of my things, then I am in bondage to my things. If I am too protective of my things and am unwilling to let them be used in appropriate ways to bless others, then I am in bondage to my things. The list goes on.
There is a time and place for everything.....and if there isn't...then something has to go. For me, I want the things I do own to "add" to my life, and not take away from it. If we live in a small house for the rest of our lives, I want to be okay with that and "live within our means" and use our things to bless others. And should we live in a big house some day, I don't want that to be an excuse to just accumulate....accumulate.
The answer to these questions will look differently for everyone....there are a million personalities out there and God want to use us all in different ways. I am certainly not saying just because you've been blessed with much means you have to go and throw it all away. Only you know your limits. And I'm not saying all I have it all figured out either (quite the contrary....you should see our garage!). But if you were to ask yourself these questions too, how would you answer them? Are you in bondage to your stuff? If anything it's certainly good food for thought...I know has been for me!