Originally published Friday, 06 September 2013.
When it comes to what goes and what stays in your house, are you more likely to hold on to things or let them go? For me, I’m all about letting go--if there’s something in my house I haven’t used in a few months, I’m probably going to put it the bag marked for Goodwill and never think twice about it. I love the liberating feeling of “cleaning out” and love the way a room looks and feels without clutter. This had never been an issue for me and was hardly something I even thought about.
That is, until I got married.
Unlike me, my husband is a saver. And while I am by far the more emotional of the two, he is far more sentimental. Every scrap piece of paper, every old CD, every threadbare t-shirt—it’s all got sentimental value, and parting with it is like parting with an extension of himself. Needless to say, deciding what needs to go and what stays can be a tremendous exercise in patience and sacrificial love in our house.
So perhaps I was feeling somewhat vindicated when I picked up Allison Vesterfelt’s new book, Packing Light. In this book, Allison takes a courageous leap to sell all her possessions, quit her full-time job, move out of her apartment and travel across America with her friend. Sound like something you’d never do? Allison didn’t think so either. But she couldn’t get over this nagging feeling that there was something more God was calling her to do with her life- a void that needed filling. And so she and her friend set off to visit every state, discovering what it looks like to live with less baggage—in every sense of the word.
Of course, “living with less baggage” has several meanings. The most obvious is a stripping down to the essentials- what do you really need in life to survive, to thrive? While this type of baggage is easier to see, other types, not so much.
Sometimes this other baggage looks like fear- the fear of the unknown, the fear of what stepping out in faith to take on a new challenge might mean. Fear of really trusting God with our lives. Sometimes it’s insecurity- constantly doubting ourselves. Sometimes it’s even routine—between work, family, social engagements and commitments—the mundaneness of life threatens to keep us from really reaching out to God to communicate with him and remember him as we go about our day.
I may be free from a house full of clutter, but the clutter in my heart is twice as binding.
As Allison makes her way across the country, she realizes the real freedom that can come from letting go of the things we think will make us happy, that we think will satisfy us- and learns to embrace the life of meaning God was calling her to.
I had the honor of chatting with Allison about her book; about the idea of baggage and how the things we think we need in life actually hold us back from really living. Be sure to check out our conversation below!
So, what about you? What “baggage” are you holding onto? If time and money weren’t an issue- what would you be doing right now? Is that thing, whatever it is, worth selling everything to follow? Let’s talk about it in the comments section below!