CHRISTIAN COMMENT: Just stuff

DO you have seemingly useless nuggets of information tucked away in your head?

Me too. And those same nuggets are probably occupying space that ought to be housing the useful info – like where my keys are.

Which is neat because one such statistic I hold refers to storage.

And by “storage” I mean “space in self storage facilities rented or sometimes leased to individuals, usually storing household goods, or to small businesses, usually storing excess inventory or archived records”.

The nugget in question is that before 1958 there were no such facilities at all.

By 2005, there were 41,000 in the US and 700 in the UK.

By 2009, there were 58,000 in the US and I don’t know how many in the UK.

Millions – no, billions of square feet of concrete and metal covered space given over to what?

Spare stuff. Stuff we don’t need. Stuff we know we don’t need but are afraid to get rid of.

Why do we feel we need so much stuff?

I suspect it’s to do with two things.

First, we are sure – in the vaguest of ways – that whatever it is might, just might, be useful at some future point. In practice either we never do need it or, if we’ve no longer got whatever it was we do without. Or buy another.

More alarmingly, stuff actually seems to exert a hold on us.

No, I’m not straying into what we might call ‘clinical hoarding’ which may or may not be form of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Though that’s often just an extreme case of what many of us do.

Rather, I’m thinking of the actual decisions that we have to make to get rid of something. Sometimes it’s too hard, too stressful, to break the tie and we delay the moment.

One reason is that, for many of us, things have emotional associations – “That was my first record”, “We bought that just after we got married”, and so on.

Severing the emotional link is often the hardest part.

If the object belonged to someone we were fond of who has now died, it’s even harder.

Throwing or giving away becomes an act of disloyalty.

The fact remains – as many TV programmes have testified – that doing the deed and de-cluttering is very healthy.

It seems to free up emotional energy. Which would suggest that the reverse, simply having lots of stuff, is bad for us.

Jesus would agree.

On one occasion he said that God’s word wasn’t very fruitful in lots of people.

Even if they knew about trusting God and loving people and making the best of themselves in this world, they often didn’t do it.

Why? A big reason, said Jesus, was that “they hear the word but the worries of daily life and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful”.

He meant that people are often deluded, cheated into thinking that more is better. Just that.

So they end up with too much stuff. And feel worse not better as a result. They’ve been deceived.

Doing the opposite – giving stuff away – releases us to do what God longs to see in us.

It doesn’t matter whether we know him or not. His design for humans will operate anyway – to our benefit.

So today, choose something that you haven’t used for, say, a year or three. Give it to charity.

You’ll feel great!

This week Nigel O’Dwyer has been having a clear-out