Who’s Going to Take Care of my Stuff?

I have always been a writer and, for much of my life, I have kept everything I have written. In my closet are boxes of notebooks and folders. I have papers written for classes in high school and college, as well as ‘poetry’ from as far back as junior high. When I was a teenager, I imagined that I would be a great writer, and that when I died, everything I had kept of my writing would be gone through to find the hidden gems that had never been published. But Emily Dickinson I am not. I don’t know what God has for my future, but I have made peace with being unknown. I have come to realize these old notebooks and papers only have value to me. When I am gone, someone else is going to have to throw them away. Perhaps I should save them some trouble. 

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Psalm 90:12

Recently we did a study at church focused on identifying people in our lives to pray for that they might come to faith in Christ. I heard there were people who refused to write down the names of family and friends to pray for because they were worried that when they died someone would read it and be upset. This is difficult for me to understand. I am more worried about the burden on my family if they have to clean out my belongings. I don’t expect that anyone will take the time to stop and read the old Bible study books, writing notebooks, or college papers. I suppose other people are worried about what their children will find, assuming they will be snoopy. I helped my father with cleaning out my grandparents house and we didn’t have time to stop and read everything. I acquired some of my grandfather’s books and I love to see his underlines and highlights, but that’s about as snoopy as we got. I certainly don’t think anything I have to say would make much of an impact when I am gone. Perhaps it’s because I can’t keep my mouth shut while I’m alive.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Matthew 6:19-21

I have been trying to clean out my closet because I know that I am holding on to too much stuff. In a box that contains most of my old writing, I found a folder of things written when I was at the Coast Guard Academy. I was surprised to find I even had exam booklets from a few of my classes. Flipping through, I found I had even kept exams and papers that didn’t receive good grades. I am probably forgetting how precious B and Cs became to me in those years. I have stories written for a creative writing class as well as things written just to get out what I was thinking about in those days. Looking through the pages I found a lot that I probably shouldn’t have put on paper, but remembered that I had even let other people read it. I suppose the problem is less about what I wrote down and more about the way I behaved and the things I did which I then documented. It is difficult to explain the mix of nostalgia and shame when I look back on those times.

Further down in my box I found stacks of drafts from the book I wrote. There was no shame there, just disappointment. It was my desire to get my book published which spurred me to start this blog. It is difficult to believe it has been six years, and little in my life has changed. I decided I should shred all of the drafts, but the exam booklets just went into the trash. The box is only half full, now. I still have too much stuff and wonder who might have to take care of it. I worry about my parents being burdened if something happens to me. The primary plan is for the sister I live with to be both the beneficiary and executor of what I leave behind. Outside of working separate jobs, my sister and I are almost always together. We travel together and share our adventures. So we recognize that there is a likelihood that an accident could take both of us. If that happened, our family might be blessed by what we are able to leave them from our retirement accounts, but the work of dealing with our belongings would be a burden. My current will has my father as a backup, and I know that he isn’t up to dealing with the business side, let alone the stuff. For a couple of years I have been thinking about this and trying to figure out who to name in his place. But who do you ask to take on a task like that? It would be silly to hire a lawyer, given my small net worth. I am sure my other sister and her family will help, but they live in a different state.

As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children. . .”

Psalm 103:15-17

I imagine that if there are healthy fellowships of single people somewhere, they might discuss and help each other with the unique difficulties of planning for the future when you’re single. I am enjoying these years of helping my parents as they get older, but I can’t help but feel at loose ends for myself. I don’t know who will help me thirty years from now, let alone who will deal with what I accumulate over my years of life, after I die. On the one hand, I feel as though my life doesn’t mean much. Yet, on the other hand, God is calling me to follow Him and trust Him, so it isn’t supposed to be about me. I know I have an obligation to prepare for the future, but I am not supposed to worry about it. It is God’s job to figure out how to provide for me. I do my part, and I trust Him to take care of the rest. There is simply no other way to have peace in life.

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