Many people won’t remember this, but there actually was a time when special storage facilities didn’t exist. Sometime in the 1980’s a number of companies recognized that people needed more room for their stuff, so, like neat rows of corn, acre upon acre of storage buildings began to sprout up across our land. Soon people began to empty their over-“stuffed” garages and attics as they moved their “stuff” into their personal storage units. People everywhere seemed elated as they purged their home of surplus “stuff,” because now they had more room for more new “stuff.”

I must admit that I have done exactly this same thing. One time I rented a storage unit to store my treasures while I built a new home. I paid rent of about $100 a month for eighteen months—that means I spent $1,800 in total for it. While retrieving my belongings, I had a sinking feeling in my gut because I realized that I could have actually replaced everything in the storage unit for about half the amount I had paid for the storage. But most people have a very hard time letting go of things.

I am always amazed when I watch the television shows that depict professional pickers, people who make a living buying and selling old goods that they find by going through another person’s mountainous collections of stuff. What few people realize is that possessions have tentacle-like appendages that seem to reach out and grab hold of us, pulling us down as they make demands on our time and lives. If you properly steward your possessions, you need to maintain them, keep batteries charged, change the oil, and so on. And if you fail to safe-keep your stuff, then it will just deteriorate into rotten stuff.

I live on the West coast near the Oregon Trail, a route hundreds of thousands of travelers used in the 1800’s in their trek across America. There are stories of how all along the trail people had discarded furnishings and keepsakes because the wagons eventually got too heavy for the oxen to pull. People had to toss out lots of their stuff in order to survive the arduous trip. Amazingly, it seems that little has changed since then.

Why all this talk about stuff? Well, once again I am in the process of moving, which gives me a great opportunity to look at all my things and decide, “Do I really need this?” “Is it worth packing and paying to move?” Having moved three times in the past dozen years, I am blessed that each move has gotten easier—a lot easier—because over time I have really gotten rid of a lot of stuff—I’ve learned to “lighten the load.”

Not only do we tend to accumulate material possessions, we also hang on to emotional and spiritual baggage, things that eventually weigh us down and cause emotional heartbreak or spiritual ineffectiveness. Like pebbles slowly dropped into our backpack, if we don’t take the time to clean them out, the weigh will accumulate and eventually it will cause us to topple from the load we are carrying. Learn to toss the excess emotional and spiritual ballast so you can “lighten the load.”