The following is a guest post by Mrs. Ford. She is a regular contributor at Help Me Travel Cheap. She is a hardworking mother of three and a person with a heart of gold. By the way, she is also my wife.
Before we moved to Papua New Guinea nearly 5 years ago, we had to take a major inventory of our stuff. Since the cost of shipping things here is outrageous, we sold the majority of our things in a garage sale. Most things definitely weren’t worth the astronomical cost of shipping them here – unless, of course, it was an item unavailable here that we REALLY wanted to have..
But there were some things I just couldn’t seem to part with, especially mementos from my former students or special cards and gifts from people.
Then there were other things I was sure that I’d use some day once we moved back to North America. Those things were carefully boxed up and are waiting for us at our parents’ houses. (Our parents can’t wait for our return for many reasons.)
I’m afraid to even look in those boxes in a couple of years when we relocate.
I’m afraid I’ll be embarrassed by the things that were so important to me at the time.
Picture Above: Craig’s once beloved Pocket PC that literally exploded because of the heat. It happened within weeks of arriving in PNG.
Since living here, my idea of what kinds of stuff matters has really transformed.
It didn’t take too many months of living in a tropical climate for our linens to start mildewing. I’ve had two pairs of quality shoes literally fall apart as I walked in them because they just can’t stand up to the heat here, I guess. Batteries go flat quickly. Electronics have a shorter life span. Books and other items have been borrowed, yet never returned. Clothes go through the wash and come out just as smelly as they were before, or so it seems.
Things get taken.
Things fall apart.
At an unbelievable rate.
I’m amazed at the lessons I’ve learned from this experience of losing my stuff. I used to want to hide everything in the house when we had local guests, for fear that it might be stolen or someone might ask to use it or borrow it, which was a reasonable fear. (I admit that I still hide my toothbrush when guests arrive. That’s just something I’m not willing to share with the community!)
Since so much of my stuff has been short-lived, worn out, and ruined, I am realizing how little value those things actually have in my life. It’s liberating in a way to not be so profoundly attached to stuff. When you’re not attached to stuff, it’s not quite as devastating when something happens to it.
As I become less attached to my stuff, it becomes easier to give it to others who clearly need it more than I do. When I first moved here, I had a difficult time parting with things I owned as if I’d be losing part of myself or something.
Slowly, over a few years, I’m learning that those items may be nice to have, but are certainly not critical to my well-being, joy in life, or my mere existence.
My stuff does not sustain me.
Now, it only seems natural that I would give a few of my skirts and shirts to a woman whose clothes were stolen off her clothesline, or send local friends home with a book or toy after they visit us. In that way, it’s a joy to lose my stuff.
I’m thankful that God is teaching me in a very vivid way to store up my treasures in heaven. Not that I’m perfect (because I have a long way to go), but I’m learning that true life is found in Christ – not in stuff that is destroyed by moth and rust and where thieves break in and steal.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.