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It’s Just Stuff?

This is the third in a series written by Malcolm Marler and Mary Bea Sullivan, husband and wife, about their journey as Mary, an author, prepares to go to Virginia Theological Seminary.  Malcolm is a director of pastoral care at a hospital in Alabama.

“She Said” by Mary Bea Sullivan

“They have met our counter-offer, but there’s one thing.” Malcolm was standing with the phone in his hand, having just hung up with our realtor.

“What’s the ‘one thing?'” I asked suspiciously. “They want the furniture.” He replied.

I stood dumbfounded. Sure, we had talked about selling the house furnished, but I hadn’t thought about that for a long time.  Besides, these guys were getting a great deal on this house, unfurnished. Not to mention, I was raised by a great negotiator and trained never to leave anything “on the table” in a deal. 

“Well, I want to keep the farmhouse table I bought in North Carolina.” I called to Malcolm who had left the room.  “And those blue chairs in the loft, I LOVE those chairs…And Kiki’s dresser, that is a NICE dresser…what about our bedroom furniture?  We bought that together.”

I began to scan the house in my head, perusing each room for special furniture to exclude from the contract. Malcolm returned to me and smiling said, “This is freedom baby!  Imagine how easy this move will be not worrying about lugging a bunch of furniture with us.  Besides, this is just stuff.”

Just stuff? I thought. This “stuff” is beautiful, we have celebrated Christmas sitting on this “stuff.”  We have come together as a family around the table, I have met with clients in those chairs, that rug was one of the first things I bought for myself after my divorce.  I wasn’t sure Malcolm really “got it,” but we decided to wait to reply to our real estate agent.  We were heading out for church anyway.

When we arrived at church our kind and caring priest, Bob Blackwell asked Malcolm how things were going with the house sale. Malcolm explained where we were in the process.  Bob smiled and said, “You may want to listen to the sermon today.”    Here’s the gist of what I heard from Bob’s lesson, “Let go…trust God will be there when you do…clinging holds you back…”

UGHH! I thought, Yeah, yeah, yeah, blah, blah, blah. I wanted to stand on my pew, turn my face toward the sky and yell, “Alright already I GET IT!”  But of course I just sat there and smiled as if all were well in my little, soon-to-be turned upside down world.

When have you resisted letting go of something dear?

How did it work out? Help me out here!

Thanks and Namaste.

Mary


5 Responses to “It’s Just Stuff?”

  1. That’s some heavy and heady stuff you’re talking about. One of my friends just posted this on Facebook this week:

    “The rich man is not the one who has the most but rather the one who is content with the least.”
    Someone commented, “Very Buddha-like.”
    My friend replied, “You are right. It does sound sort of Eastern. I was actually capsulating these two verses: ‘But godliness with contentment is great gain.’ 1 Tim. 6:6; and ‘Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have.’ Heb 13:5.”

    I myself struggle between “let go and trust” and “You better hang on to that, you may need it one day.”

  2. Malcolm says:

    Charlie, you are so right, it can be heavy and heady when it comes to the stuff we have in our lives. But as we both know, this is ultimately one of the life struggles and challenges we face.

    I do not pretend to have this solved in my own life. But rather, I am trying to experience the freedom I feel even if for a brief time and see what advantages it holds.

    Peace to you my brother,
    Malcolm

  3. Debbie B. says:

    I’m not sure I could walk away from EVERYTHING…like the farmhouse table…but I witnessed my nextdoor neighbor’s house burn down on a Christmas morning (a few years ago). Everyone got out safely, but she lay down in her front yard wailing. She was distraught over all the “things” that were burning.

    My oldest son quietly asked me if I would behave in a similar manner should our house ever burn. I said, “No. That’s what insurance is for. If we all got out okay, I’d be grateful.”

    If instead of being sold, the house and its contents were gone due to a disaster like fire, or the recent tornadoes, life would go on without the farmhouse table and everyone would be grateful just to have each other.

  4. Shannon says:

    I just replied to Malcolm’s post, “Freedom From Stuff.” Oh how I want to be free, but I could FEEL your thoughts as you described looking around your home at the things you love. I cling! I get try to give away things I love, family heirloom types of things, to really ‘let go’ and give meaningfully, but I do not always succeed. There is so much anxiety attached, I end up walking away and keeping the things. I can only describe it as feeling as if I losing something very important or that I will miss it or not be able to pass it to my children…really? Do I want to teach my children to cling to things? Uh, it’s hard. I look forward to reading about your journey. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Kathryn jones says:

    Even as i sit surrounded by boxes & boxes of STUFF that i will be moving in a few days, i’m still conflicted on this one. This stuff IS a burden, but some of it has sentimental value that deems it treasure to me. I know many women who enjoy their well-appointed homes, and maybe nesting instincts play a part in this. In contrast, I know many men who seem to want to “chuck it all” and live on a boat. Literally.

    I’m grateful to love and be loved by a man whose yin is my yang, and for the most part we’ve been able to split the difference between ultimate simplicity and attractive comfort. I wish and pray we all find harmony with our surroundings, whatever they may contain. Peace and joy, Kathryn

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