always walking through life with extra bags

Extra Bags

I remember this moment clearly.

I was having my very first garage sale as an adult. I’d helped my mom with countless garage sales during my growing up years but this was the first time to go for it all on my own.

I had my money box. My things were all arranged neatly in our garage. My lawn chair was set up. I had a babysitter at the house for the girls… this was going to be great.

Then, that first customer showed up.

There they were… browsing through my things. our things.

In that moment, it didn’t matter that everything out on display was what we were WANTING to get rid of… in that moment, it was the fact that our lives were on display.

Someone that I didn’t know was going through our clothes, our toys, games, books, movies, kitchen items.

And it felt odd. Odd to have someone going through our things.

And with that feeling, I remembered a quote, something someone told me one time about garage sales and moving. She said, “I hate when people help us move. First they see all our stuff in a garage sale, then they help us pack things and then they help us unpack things. I would rather do it myself so that no one is sorting through our stuff.”

I didn’t understand her strong sentiment at the time she said it.

And even at that first garage sale, I didn’t fully understand the extent of her feelings.

What could be wrong with having people help you? That sounds like a good thing!

But, after moving multiple times in the past few years, having multiple garage sales, packing from one hotel, one house, one city to the next… I understand.

I feel that quote deeply.

The help is still fabulous. I’m greatly thankful for every single helping hand over the past few years.

But I’m weary. Weary of the “garage sale” feeling.

The feeling of having our lives on display.

{and this isn’t even a social media thing… this is just a “we move alot” thing}

The feeling of constantly having the “how much” of our stuff exposed to the world.

And I say this with no malice. It isn’t anything one person did or said.

It is the culmination of a lifestyle lived on full display for all to see.

The people who pack, unload, carry, store, shop, help… we are SOOOO thankful!

But it doesn’t make our lives any less on display. The feeling is still there.

Most people have tons of stuff. It is packed away in their house…

That is their personal information.

Our stuff is no longer personal.

Every time we buy something or add to our belongings or sell something or store something…

Every time we need something sent to us…

Every time we move or need help carrying things from one place to the next… our lives are under a microscope.

And people say things.

A constant run of examinations of our belongings, our needs, our wants, our lives.

And not one person means anything by it… I know they are natural, curious questions! So please don’t feel bad if you’ve said something to us. Really.


The garage sale feeling exists.

For this introvert who is moving yet again. To yet another continent… not even counting all the hundreds of moves from houses to hotels and back over the past 2 years.

The details and the amount of help we will need moving this time… and again in a few months in country.

It makes me want to crawl in a hole with absolutely nothing.

No bags.

No bins.

No packing.

No sorting.

Nothing to be stored or shipped or loaded or boxed.

Not one single thing.

The exhaustion of stuff. The weight of the baggage of life. The deep heaviness of things.

always walking through life with extra bags

And you know what?

One day that will happen. to all of us.

We will go to heaven with not one single belonging.

We will get to enter our heavenly home baggage and box free.

Nothing on earth will be needed or even wanted there.

We will be free from things. Free from stuff. Free from the examination of earthly wares.

Our relationship with God will truly be all that matters.

He won’t be counting our bins as we walk through heaven’s gates. He won’t be charging us shipping for every pound. He won’t be determining what items make the cut into heaven and what items have to be left behind. There will be no lists of things to have, things to leave and things to buy.

Nope. He already made those decisions for us. Nothing comes in but people.

So, I’m learning… that this “garage sale” feeling makes me long for heaven.

I’m learning that the letting go of things is truly preparation for heaven.

I’m learning that the comments, the words, the questions… all come innocently and I need to humbly allow my life to be on display.

There is nothing to hide. No where to stash things or hoard things.

Every time we buy something or sell something it is a pound more or a pound less to move with us.

It causes me to live with open hands, open heart and with eyes turned towards heaven.

This battle of stuff, for us, is fought with many eyes watching.

But in the end, we will all take nothing with us.

We will all be baggage free.

And that sounds heavenly.

*now, please… go back to the top and read how thankful we truly are for every bit of help we have had over the past few years. Our support team is AMAZING!!! Our families have helped us in unbelievable ways. We can NOT say thank you enough!!! This is just an account of a side of missionary life you might not see. A bit of a missionary’s traveling life that you might not have thought about before. A very real part of our lives that can be incredibly difficult and stressful. And the beautiful reminder of entering heaven with not one extra bag.


  1. I just had my first overseas garage sale. I thought I was disconnected from my stuff and that it wouldn’t be hard to see it go, but there were a few items that proved difficult: the rocking horse all three of my kids rode as wobbly one year olds and a few baby blankets I just don’t need (I have kept a few). I’m comforted by knowing I took so many photos of my kids on that horse! And, clearing out the excess in our lives was so good. I feel so much lighter.

  2. Mmmm. yes. I’m fairly new to this whole missionary thing, but I already feel this. The scrutiny is real. But it is so very, very good. EVERY SINGLE TIME I think about buying something new, I automatically think “Do I really want to have to move this?” (Most of the time the answer is no so the item is not bought.)

    It has gone a long way to free me from the tyranny of consumerism.

    1. It is very freeing. And we find more funds in the budget to do fun events/experiences with our girls since we don’t buy actual things. It has been a great experience for our family!

  3. This really touched me… as a missionary who moved across the world with 6 suitcases containing the things that seemed most important from my 30 years of accumulation and the wedding presents that had just been given, I sometimes feel a wave of regret for the things left behind, the things given away. But it’s the comments that give my life that “on display” feeling. My in-laws who were so generous at the time of our wedding to let me store the last 10 boxes of things I couldn’t pack but couldn’t bear to part with… journals, beloved books, pottery I made in college or bought in far off places, things that belonged to my great grandparents… now tell me it’s a lot of stuff and they are thinking about moving. It’s my parents opening my mail to read it to me over skype. In addition, it’s my husband telling me he can’t buy two shirts to replace the four that have worn out because he would lose credibility in the eyes of the young men we work with. Our lives are on display. Future missionaries: count the cost…. but remember the purpose. And that, yes, none of it gets to leave here with us! I love that: Heaven is a baggage free zone.

    1. I completely understand your whole comment! Our families have both been so gracious and understanding! But it still is difficult to live so much in the open. Remembering our purpose with you!

  4. yes!!! We leave for Zambia in a month, and I have been feeling the same way. Three moves this last year while we trained, getting rid of so much stuff, etc. It’s physically and emotionally exhausting! BTW, my brother spent two years in Senegal (he moved back in February). He loved it…most of the time.

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