Sometimes the things that we own end up owning us. Detachment prevents this from happening.
You may have heard of the minimalist movement that focuses on only having the things you need, and letting go of the things you don’t. Most people practice this by decluttering their house or storage, like you would if you were cleaning out a closet. But it’s not so much having a lot of stuff that’s the problem: it’s being attached to those things, and letting them have a sense of control over your life.
This can happen with anything we own, from entertainment resources like books or video games, to things like photos, letters from family and friends, or even notes from your favorite theology course. For some reason, our hearts hold on to certain things, even if we haven’t looked at them in years, just in case we need them someday. Maybe it’s because of sentimental value, or because we find joy in them, but most of the time, we keep these things for a sense of security.
There’s nothing wrong with having things, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with finding joy in the things we do have. But if there are things sitting on our shelves, collecting dust because we’re keeping them “just in case,” maybe the question we need to ask ourselves is, “what does God want me to do with this?” Does he want us to keep it and use it, or give it away to someone who needs it, or just throw it away? But the important thing to remember is that everything we have should be looked at with the idea that we can do something good with it, and intend to use it for the glory of God.
If you still have use for it, then keep it. If it’s done all it can for you, and has more goodness for someone else, then give it away. And if all its goodness is used up, then toss it. But whatever we have, we need to give it to God, acknowledging that he gave it to us in the first place. Letting him decide what we do with the things we own is the perfect way to not only detach ourselves from our possessions, but to gain more freedom in our lives to bless others.
If you want to learn more about what truly satisfies—or share it with a friend—check out The Fundamental Theory of Happiness: How to Find Your Purpose and Be More Joyful by Dominick Albano.
Meet Fr. Mike Schmitz
Fr. Mike Schmitz serves as Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Duluth and as chaplain for the Newman Catholic Campus Ministry at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
He is a presenter in Ascension’s Chosen, Altaration, and The 99 programs, and has a channel on Ascension Presents. He is also the host of the Ascension podcasts The Bible in a Year and The Catechism in a Year.