To Keep or Not to Keep

Storage Monster
I confess I can toss things away without much concern. I come by it honestly.  My father, who was a chemist, organized his garage like a lab: paint cans, fertilizers, hoses, essential tools, lawn mower, enough room for two cars, and nothing extra.

Inside the house, my mother, the city librarian, had the kitchen spices alphabetized and all our books organized by subject and author. She taught me well: when I was twelve, I created a card catalog of every item I owned. No joke.

Each year in the Kramer home, two weekends were dedicated to SPRING CLEANING. I joined in the fray, weeding out clothes, old toys, books, unworthy stuff and we’d make trips to Goodwill or the dump.  We’d come home, inspect the open spaces, sit back and never consider again what we’d just hauled off.

In God’s awesome way of matchmaking, I met someone who totally didn’t understand this concept. In our thirty years together, I have boxed, moved, unpacked, repacked, shoved, shuffled, lifted, and KEPT many things that in an earlier part of my life would have never made it past SPRING CLEANING.

Buried Treasure
This past summer, my husband built what he termed “monster” shelves. It takes an extension ladder to reach its uppermost regions. Now boxes finally have a resting place. In fairness, not EVERYTHING is his.  I’ll admit some is mine—stuff saved because I was convinced future generations would want it. And some belongs to our adult children who have no room for their treasures because they live in Seattle and Bainbridge Island—places where they sell living space by the square inch.

Like clockwork, each spring part of my past beckons me to open the closet doors and unload the unnecessary. I can also recall some of my worst springtime arguments, which by looking into his eyes, hurt him far more than me. But now I’ve made peace. Somewhere in the middle of all those boxes I learned a critical lesson:

My husband doesn’t toss away anything with disregard. Someone might need it. He respects things too much to toss them. This behavior even extends to more vital areas of his life—like relationships.  He's devoted to his family. He honors his marriage. He appreciates his friends. He cares deeply about people. Often this means finding those in need and then helping them with what he has.

While both my parents were clean and organized, neither one ended their lives with many friends. Neat, orderly and quite lonely. I don't want that to be me. Perhaps that's why I'm married to a keeper. God needed me to understand the difference. Now if I have to choose between SPRING CLEANING or hurting the one who chooses to sincerely care—there’s no choice….I’ll keep boxing things up until someone comes along who needs it. I've come to love this man who keeps his stuff, which thankfully includes me.

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