Keep, Give, or Toss


I’m amazed at how much stuff Jason and I have accumulated over our lifetime. Even more so, I’m shocked at some of the junk I’ve uncovered while delving into the deep corners of our attic. Yes, as it is with so many attics, certain items have been up there since the day we moved into this house nearly nineteen years ago. Why, oh why, did we feel the need to keep so much stuff?

I’ve spent the past week going through the myriad of items in the attic, and I’ve uncovered everything from precious keepsakes to dead rodents (oh, how I wish I were making that up!). It’s been a process to decide what to do with everything. Some things are obvious, but others—not so much. So, day after day, I’ve waded through long, lost items and pondered, Keep, give, or toss?

Obviously, I long to keep things that have a purpose or sentimental value. Then, there are those items that I feel someone else may be able to use. Those, I place in boxes to pass on to family, friends, or even the local thrift store. Lastly, there are those things that need to be discarded. They no longer have a life or a purpose. Keep, give, toss—my motto for the past week or so.

But as I thought on it, I realized it’s an excellent motto to repeat to myself every single day of my life. Not just when dealing with a lifetime of possessions but also when dealing with a lifetime of—well—life. Let’s face it, over time, we all become weighed down by the “stuff” we’ve picked up along our journey. Some of it is good and has helped us in our walk. But some of it we would do well to give away or toss.  

The good things we’ve acquired in our journey may be salvation, relationships, skills, accomplishments, health, or a good job. They serve a purpose or have great value. We treasure them, and rightly so. These are the keepers.

The junk we’ve picked up in our life often includes pain, guilt, negative thinking, bad habits, bitterness, and a critical spirit. These things drag us down and wear us out. They steal our joy and peace, trip us up every step of the way, and create a dark place in our souls. The best thing to do is to throw it out. Cast it away. Junk it! It has no place in our lives, and it’s taking up the space that could be used for something positive and productive. Get rid of it.

The last category is the trickiest because it’s not quite as cut and dry as good or bad. It’s more a matter of good or best. Some things in our lives were good for us for a time, but as seasons changed, we changed too. Now, we no longer need those things, and it’s time to pass them on to someone else. Or, the thing that suited us for a time may have become a stumbling block to us, and the best thing for us to do is to give it over to God.  

As difficult as it is to sort through the stuff from my attic, I’ve found it’s even more challenging to sort through the things in my life, but it’s also more critical.  A junky attic is a mess, but a junky soul can be a menace. My friends, it’s time to do some sorting. I urge you to examine your life today—and every day—and determine what to keep, what to give away, and what to toss. You’ll be glad you did!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to my boxes. Fun, fun!

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. . .A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
— Ecclesiastes 3:1,6

The Bad News About Burnout, Part Two

In the previous post, we discussed the cause of burnout and how Moses found himself teetering on the brink of a total breakdown when he was spending all day every day judging the people and solving their disputes.  Moses thought he was doing a good thing, as we often do when we take on more responsibilities than we should, but Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, told him otherwise.  And Moses' father in law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good. (Exodus 13:17)  Fortunately, Jethro went on to explain his reasoning:  Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone. (vs. 18)

Have you ever had someone tell you you’re doing too much?  Has anyone ever said to you, “You need to slow down”?  Do you ever feel like a rat on a wheel—constantly running but never completing the many tasks set before you?  If you answered “yes” to these questions, then you’re in the same position Moses was in.  Thou wilt surely wear away!  It’s too much.  We have a tendency to take on far more than God ever intended for us to carry, and the problem with this reaches far beyond wearing ourselves out, though that is a serious issue too.  In fact, let’s start with that bad news.

Burnout (and even the steps leading to it) can leave us so tired and weary that we don’t have the time (or the patience) for anyone or anything else.  Burning our candles at both ends can cause us to neglect the things in life that actually matter:  God, our families, our churches, our friends, our health and so on.  It’s so easy to focus on the urgent that everything else simply falls by the wayside.  We don’t have the energy to deal with life’s issues and “the other stuff” too, so something has to be pushed aside, and too often, it’s the wrong things.

Take our health, for example.  I don’t know about you, but when I get busy and stressed, it becomes quite evident in my food choices and lack of activity.  My healthy, well-planned meals turn into fast food runs and microwave pizza.  I trade out my water and herbal teas for energy drinks and sodas because I’ve convinced myself that I need the added caffeine to keep myself going.  My daily prayer walk becomes a run, but not the right kind.  A run to the store.  A run to pick up the items I need for this task or that event.  Running myself ragged trying to tick off everything on my to-do list.  It’s crazy, and the worst part is that it’s a never-ending cycle.  When I’m stressed, I turn to these bad habits which, in turn, perpetuate more stress on my body which leads to more bad habits.  See what I’m getting at?  Without our health, we can’t get anything done.  The more we try to push ourselves beyond our limits, the more limits we’ll find placed on our bodies.  We were not designed to run at warp speed for long stretches of time, and it’s killing us little by little.

Jethro warned Moses that if he didn’t change his way of thinking and daily routine, he was going to wind up in the sick bed or, worse yet, in the grave.  His body couldn’t keep up with the demands of his time, and neither can ours.  If you’re sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, then perhaps it’s time to take a good long look at your schedule and prayerfully consider where you can make some changes.  Don’t allow Satan to distract you by claiming that everything on your list is good because, while that may be true, the combination of all those things is not good.  If it’s ruining our health and making us unusable in the work of the Lord, it’s a very bad thing.  Something has to go, so what will it be?

We’ll talk more about this in the next post and explain how burnout may be keeping us from our calling in life.  Until then, I pray you’ll take some time to consider your schedule and see where you can possibly make some changes.  I know it’s the busiest time of the year, but just think, if you can make changes now, it should be that much easier to do so the rest of the year.  Remember, you can do all things through Christ.  Ask Him, and He’ll show you what to keep and what to give away.  Your life may very well depend on it!

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; - Ecclesiastes 3:1,6