I am not a hoarder. I am not a pack rat. I AM a sentimentalist.

I have a problem. But so do you.

What is the healthy amount of memorabilia to keep around?
I must say, I am proud of my wife and her influence on me in this arena. If there is one thing since we have been married that Alyssa has helped me heal personally from, it is my t-shirt collection. You know how in movies like “Raider’s of the Lost Ark,” “National Treasure,” “Aladdin,” or “The Mummy,” the hero walks into this massive treasure room with gold and jewels as far as the eye can see? Well, that is an exaggeration of my t-shirt pile… but you get the point. I don’t know when it happened, but like seeing a double-chin or bald spot in the mirror, all of the sudden it was noticed and could not be unnoticed.

The first time Alyssa tried to have me get rid of t-shirts, I had over 100 in my possession. And although I only wore about 8 in a solid rotation, I was only able to get rid of about 5 (which I quickly regained after a few months of accumulation: donating blood, volunteering, running a race, etc.) As the months/seasons would go by, we would find ourselves once again going through the massive pile as Alyssa calmly but sternly, like a hiker warding off a bear, coaxed me to let go of these “treasures” or “memories” that I had been clinging on to for years. There were shirts from middle school basketball teams I was on, bands I was a part of, zoos I had visited, places that my friends had been, family ski team, church trips, brands I liked, thrift store finds, hand-me-downs, yard sale gems, etc.

I was truly disillusioned when it came to this fabric and my growing up. I KNEW that I was never going to wear at least 40% of the shirts I had, but the “concrete” of my head knowledge could never set because my “soggy wet” heart was always stirring it up.

I think I am afraid to get rid of things because I have associated certain tangible things as the only bridge to specific memories. “If I get rid of that movie ticket stub, then I will never remember that time our whole family went to Toy Story 2 in theater the day after Christmas.” These are a few of my favorite “thinks.” Together we have helped me realize that growing up requires us to leave some things behind. Think about a cicada, snake, or caterpillar. Each animal sloughs off its skin in order to grow. When a cicada breaks out of its exoskeleton during molting, it never returns to the empty shell that it left. Sometimes we decrease our ability to make new memories when we hold on to old ones.

Alyssa was convinced that I had gone through this “poser skater boy” phase late in high school that was completely unattractive to her. I liked some shoes, hoodies, and shorts that she thought were just silly. So, I had to button up some khakis, buy some nicer shirts and carry myself differently (even if I disagreed with her on the extent of my “board-dom.”) Turns out I was not too legit, so I quit. POSITIVE CHANGE!!! Thank you Jesus.

I heard a quote this week from my boss: “You should dress for where you are headed, not for where you are.” The thought behind this is not restrictive to clothing, but much more comprehensive. If we are constantly looking back, how can we be preparing for our future and what God has designed us for? The only animal I know that was created to move quickly in reverse is a crawfish or an octopus. But crawfish are bottom feeders and octupi just suck.

So, when you go to get rid of a t-shirt (or anything), make it a POSITIVE experience! Maybe write a letter to the person that is tied to that memory, expressing how fondly you remember that time with them. Then, thank God that you have more than one shirt to keep you clothed. You’ll make more room in your closet and your heart.