Confessions of a Pack Rat

Digging through my office desk drawer in search of a few pins to stick a calendar on the wall, I came across an old padlock. It’s the first padlock I ever used – for my gym locker in 7th grade.

Maybe I'll need this...
Maybe I’ll need this…

Why is it in my desk drawer? Mostly because I save things, just in case I ever need them. Evidently, I’ve done so at least since I was 12 years old! I always feel like I’m losing out when I have to get rid of something because then I won’t have it if the need arises. But why would I have saved this Master lock for all those years? I remember my new wife asking me that question as we set up our storage closet at our college apartment years ago.

“Just in case I ever need it.” I smiled. (We were newlyweds, so I still could get a little traction out of that grin.) And it turns out, we did need it to secure a few things in a storage space. But now? What am I going to need it for? I don’t know. But it’s nice to know it’s still there if I do. (And just for the record, after all the years spent mostly in boxes and drawers, I still remember the combination somehow!)

I’ve kept other stuff, too.

A notebook full of Sophomore Comp & Grammar assignments from high school… (and several others from most of my other classes)

A piece of the root I saved from a tree that was pushing in the foundation of our first house… We pushed back. And won.

A box of baseball cards from my collecting stint in ’87 & ’88… (about the same time I got that padlock)

A couple cases from old glasses…

A bunch of boxes and manuals from just about every piece of electronic wizardry or software that I’ve ever owned… (Probably not going to need that Handspring Palm Pilot box again!)

A few remnants of a large collection of Jones soda bottles…

I wonder sometimes, if I keep stuff because I can’t keep people. Every spring, there is an exodus that happens in my life as graduation hits and students that I’ve loved and cared for finish their high school years. Every year, the majority of the part of my ‘congregation’ that has had the most time to grow near and dear… leaves. This is one of the difficulties of youth ministry. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to hold them back. I want them to leave. I want them to be launched from our student ministry into lives of ministry of their own. But that doesn’t make it easy to watch them go.

Or maybe I keep stuff because I’m a sappy bag of sentiment and I get some kind of emotional stability from holding on to stuff (which would be a pretty big problem eventually). I moved a lot when I was a kid, so maybe I developed some kind of coping mechanism to maintain some connection with who I was and the people associated with all the stuff. Or maybe I just got really good at packing things and forgot how to stop.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve kept hanging on to?

Why do you think you keep the things you keep?

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